YOUR OPINION: Support the Half Penny Tax

By  //  July 9, 2014

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LAURIE CHALKO: “Study upon study, and experience, show how the quality of the schools in a community affects property values, crime, and economic development.” 

Support the half penny sales tax for Brevard Public Schools (BPS)? To me, looking at the issue from all of the different angles possible, there is only one answer, and that is yes.

EDITOR’S NOTE: SpaceCoastDaily.com provides an unbiased, non-agenda-driven venue for your information and engagement, and welcomes and encourages all points of view. For more information, or to send your comments and columns, e-mail SpaceCoastDaily@gmail.com

EDITOR’S NOTE: SpaceCoastDaily.com provides an unbiased, non-agenda-driven venue for your information and engagement, and welcomes and encourages all points of view. For more information, or to send your comments and columns, e-mail SpaceCoastDaily@gmail.com

First, there are just the basic numbers. Since 2007-08, there has been a 65 percent decrease in BPS capital funding due to a combination of:

• A 25 percent decrease in property tax income (millage rates) by the state
• A recession economy with huge declines in property values

A 65 percent decrease could be related to having your own income reduced from, say, $50,000 to $17,500. For me personally, such a decrease would mean huge losses, reductions, and a nose to the grindstone effort to find a new job and income.

Plain and simple numbers also show that BPS has done just that: cut back, saved money, postponed capital projects that should have been done ( all public record and available to anyone who requests it or just looks on the BPS website), and now, seeking additional income in the sales tax initiative. Audit and standards organizations and businesses that I would rely on for my own investments (such as Moody and Fitch) have ranked BPS as excellent in the area of finance.

Basic numbers also show that despite a loss in income, there has been few, if any, cut backs in programs that affect kids. BPS is still tops in the state in so many academic and extracurricular areas. Who could not well up with pride and be excited about the future over the accomplishments of Brevard’s students in so many varied areas? Who would or could not put them first?

My own daughter is a product of Brevard Public Schools. She benefited from athletics, AP classes, and dual enrollment, programs that are considered “extra” in many places, but which allowed her to thrive and excel, go on to college and law school, and become a valuable, contributing member of society.

Aside from supporting numbers and statistics, fundamentally, I believe that part of the privilege of living in the U.S. is contributing financially to the public good: safety, roads, and education. In turn, the quality of my life and investments are directly related to the value of those services.

Study upon study, and experience, show how the quality of the schools in a community affects property values, crime, and economic development. Without reading a word, I can just ask my husband, a career law enforcement officer, about the effects of schools and education on crime, or ask a realtor about what helps to sell a home, or ask someone in the chamber of commerce what keeps local businesses thriving and moving to our area.

Beyond these numbers and lofty idealism, every day in my job, I observe and experience the significant worth of our BPS programs. Having taught science research for eighteen years, I know that my students, through their participation in this course (an “extra”), have and will go on to make a difference in our world, from brain disorder research at Johns Hopkins to chemical engineering to cancer research at M.D. Anderson.

Many of these same students have also been involved in our music programs. The effect of music education on academics is well documented, easy to correlate in our own neighborhoods, and an important factor in the development of their success.

As the technology specialist at my school for 10 years, I also know that we are preparing students for a completely different world including jobs that don’t even exist right now, and of which we cannot even fathom. To provide bright opportunities for their futures, we must keep up with the tools and continue to transform the way we teach students – irrespective of mandatory state computer based testing with which we must also comply.

As the technology specialist at my school for 10 years, I also know that we are preparing students for a completely different world including jobs that don’t even exist right now, and of which we cannot even fathom. To provide bright opportunities for their futures, we must keep up with the tools and continue to transform the way we teach students – irrespective of mandatory state computer based testing with which we must also comply.

The servers at our school range in age from 6-10 years old. Our elderly print server’s hardware failure is an example. In the spring of this past school year, we went four days without full print services. A majority of the teachers at my school are currently using 6-8 year old laptops, and three of our student computer labs were put together using a hodge-podge of donated computers, monitors, keyboards, and mice. They all work, but are slow, and we all chuckle that at least no one has died during their use. Our students deserve better. They also deserve healthier facilities in which to learn.

Our ceilings leak when it rains. We have resident rodents in them. The AC units in classrooms spring leaks constantly. We slide a bucket or kiddy pool under the leak, live with it and continue to do our jobs teaching children. They deserve better. We want them to go on to make a difference, perhaps curing a brain disorder or cancer or developing the latest technology to make life easier or more enjoyable.

So, from every possible angle on such an important issue that I could consider in a decision to vote and get involved: Support the half penny sales tax? There is no other answer, but YES!

Laurie Chalko

Laurie Chalko

LAURIE CHALKO
• Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist
• Certified Biology 6-12 and Middle Grades Science 6-9 Teacher
• Employed at Hoover Middle School
• Brevard Save Our Students Volunteer Coordinator
• Merritt Island Kiwanis member

 

 

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