Twenty odd years ago, Bureau Valley came into existence and brought with it a huge increase in tax for the area. On March 20, we will again be asked to pass a referendum to tax the property owners at a rate beyond what state allows schools to tax independently.
In my opinion, the last two referendums put the cart ahead of the horses. There is much dissent on what direction the school should head. One camp is for centralizing, and the other camp is community-based schools. Responses to surveys are poor and suspect, in my opinion, but making this huge decision should not be addressed by referendum alone.
The current one board system allows school district voters to effectively change another area of the district’s wishes. There needs to be a better way to be fairer. The current system seems very much like bullying.
The high school referendum has contributed to some degree the demise of this area. The high tax rate hurts new home startups and business retention. If the bond is left expire, our rate will be about 75 percent of Hall’s. Enough to bring back some investment to our end of county?
One route would be to just repair what we have, keep rates low, and let the tax base expand over time to make improvements. BV is far behind neighboring districts on taxable values. In other words, we are quite poor. We need to break this trend.
If it’s truly the desire of people of BV to centralize, which may or may not be, there are cheaper plans to the current plan. One would be to work with the BV Foundation to build an off-site athletics complex. A steel span building for practice can be built for a fraction of brick. This would be not just less expensive, but able to build substantially larger to give even more opportunities. Rather than sole use of brick construction of the school addition, a combination of brick and modular classrooms is more cost-effective and responsible to taxpayers and still allow for a safe, comfortable and equitable education of students.
By keeping costs down, BV will be able to become more competitive with staff compensation for better teacher retention and attractive to new hires.
Another factor is the state of our state. We can expect less and less financial help as well as more responsibilities are put on to local districts.