My unofficial poll on the West Lafayette School Tax Referendum, done mostly on the Hanukah/Christmas party circuit, while walking the dogs, or while outside putting up my Christmas lights, is 51% unenthusiastically “for” the tax increase and 49 % unenthusiastically “against” it.
Most of my friends and neighbors obviously believe in spending money on education. Most believe the referendum will pass easily in fairly light voter turn out. All agree the West Lafayette Community Schools are excellent. Even those with children in the Montessori or New Community Schools. Even those without any children in the schools. Even those whose children are long out of the schools.
But our permanent residents are older and poorer than the rest of the city. Our land values just went up 64% and our total assessed property value 6% (J&C 12/6/09) as the property tax rate in “Purdue Main” was equalized at $1000 a frontage sq.ft. Not everybody’s taxes are going down as much as the school board advertises, and this is not Fishers or Carmel.
Our particular predicament is not acknowledged by the school board. Nothing new there. We have no representation on the school board. Remember Sarah Mustillo’s application to serve on the West Lafayette School Board? (Blogpost “What’s Wrong With Sarah Mustillo?” 8/11/2008) Not even an interview! One of my cleverer neighbors opined that we could be as ignored as we are now for far less money, if we end up in the county school system. If we are going to be invisible, lets do it as cheaply as possible.
Periodically we have been told we should move the high school to imaginary, invisible land. Or close Happy Hollow. Over and over again the school administration has declined to help New Chauncey. It’s all about the children, we were told, who, apparently, all live in the air and not in houses on streets. So we can’t help our friends and neighbors with housing issues in the lower third of this district’s geography; blocks often made uninhabitable for families by rental corporations (now ironically, likely to be called to pay for their “success”). Isn’t the change to all rentals inevitable, we’ve been asked? If that’s so, isn’t the end of the West Lafayette schools also inevitable?
The comments move on from there. Weren’t there only a couple of “SOS” signs in the district? Given the state’s lack of enthusiasm for funding education, can we morally take money from Gary or Otterbein and give it to West Lafayette? Are the county schools really that bad? Isn’t it really all about the parent’s interest in education anyway? Is this plan any better thought out than the impossible “annexation plan” offered earlier by the Corporation? Why not become charter schools within a county system, like some Roman Catholic schools in Indianapolis? Or keep keeping raising money through the foundation, like last year? Why can’t the state raise liquor taxes instead of cutting the schools?
City Council Democrats are still cranky about the machinations surrounding the Board of Works decision to demolish Burtsfield School without debate. (Blogpost: “Burtsfield Demolition”10/30/2008). We will wait for the Republican City Administration to propose a resolution to endorse this school tax increase.
Grudging approval is the best I can give or report.