Archived Story

Vote YES for our schools

Published 7:29pm Friday, February 7, 2014

When Tallapoosa County voters go to the polls Tuesday, we will be considering an issue that is critically important to the future of our county’s school systems and to the future of all county residents.

Tuesday’s vote will determine whether the current 7.5 mils ad valorem tax funding schools in our county will be renewed. The 7.5 mils tax is made up of three parts: a 1.5 mils and a 3 mils tax that goes to all the schools in the county, and a second 3 mils district-specific tax that Alexander City residents pay to fund the Alexander City Schools and Tallapoosa County residents pay to fund the Tallapoosa County Schools. These taxes are not new. In fact, the last time the tax came up for a public renewal was in 1986, when residents voted to continue funding the schools. A vote to renew the taxes means we will pay the same amount of taxes next year as we did last year.

That’s exactly what we need to do again on Tuesday. This is a reasonable and worthwhile property tax. As an example, the owner of a $150,000 house currently pays $1,125 per year for this tax. That’s equivalent to $3.16 per day.

“It’s critical to the basic functioning of the school system,” said Alexander City Schools Superintendent Darrell Cooper, who said that a vote to not renew the taxes would be “devastating” to the schools and would require cutbacks in education quality.

Tallapoosa County Schools Superintendent Joe Windle echoed the same thoughts.

“For our county system to exist as we know it now, these funds are critical … This is an investment in our children and their future.”

Windle said if the taxes are not renewed Tuesday, county schools would have to “close buildings and look at personnel cuts.”

I think our public schools are some of the best, most important assets we have here in Tallapoosa County.

My children all attended school in the Alexander City system. One is now working on a master’s degree in Germany, and one is a senior at the University of Alabama who is working to attend medical school in the future. All three of my children excelled at the university level, and all three are products of our public schools.

As a parent who has lived in another community that did not have high quality public schools, I can testify in no uncertain terms that we are much, much better off here.

When I lived in Mississippi, sending my children to the public schools was not an option. Instead, they attended a Catholic elementary school. Today that school charges $5,100 per year for classes, or more than $61,000 for 12 years of school. By comparison, in-state tuition for an undergraduate degree at the University of Alabama costs about $38,000 today.

Because we have high-quality public schools in our community that are basically free to our residents, we have a better chance to bring in new businesses and new jobs. We have a stronger and better-educated community. We have a better sense of community because most children of a similar age grow up together.

A cut in the quality of our public education could send affluent local students to private schools located out of our county, which would harm our local economy in many ways for years to come.

The fact of the matter is that quality schools are one of the driving forces in any community, and here in Tallapoosa County, we’ve got terrific school systems that need and deserve our support. I will vote for the renewal of our school tax on Tuesday – which again, will not increase current taxes one cent.

I strongly encourage you to go to the polls Tuesday and to join me in voting to renew the 7.5 mils ad valorem tax funding our public schools.

Boone is publisher of The Outlook.