Letter to the Editor

In response to the article on the Independence Schools operating levy ballot issue

To the Editor:

Given the relative uncertainty in the economy, it is hard to understand how the Independence Schools’ administration and board of education can be asking for an approximate 70% increase in property taxes/operating funds, particularly when $650,000 of these new taxes/funds are directed towards only two new programs/services. Do we really need an additional $2.35 million per year to continue funding programs/services that are already in place?

Per the school system’s own publicly available reports, in 2014 revenue per pupil was approximately $16,250 with expenditures per pupil being approximately $14,000. In 2023, revenue per pupil had grown to approximately $19,100, while expenditures per pupil had grown to approximately $20,100. Over this period, revenue increased approximately 15%, while expenditures grew approximately 44%, far outpacing the rate of inflation. From an outsider’s perspective, it seems that the issue is not that there are enough funds to operate the school system, but rather an issue of not being able/willing to control costs.

There is universal agreement that we need to support our school system in order to help prepare our kids for the future, but the answer cannot always be to continue to ask for more funds. In a tight economy, where citizens also continue to see their overall tax burden increase, there needs to be more focus on spending available funds more effectively and efficiently. If not, at some point in time the “money well” will run dry and a much more difficult day of reckoning will be upon us.

John Dougherty

Sunset Avenue ∞