More taxes for schools?

Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
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At a time when many of us support aggressive efforts to get federal and state spending under control, we face a May 24 school-district referendum that would increase our taxes to address school-building needs here in the Eden Valley-Watkins District.

Is this a tax increase we should support? On the face of it, it's a tough call.

We have no children in these schools, and never have. We have paid school taxes for over 40 years on Clear Lake property that we enjoyed in the summers before making this our year-around home eight years ago. Like other retirees, we are resistant to adding to our tax burden, especially in these economic times.

But remembering how others supported such referendums when our six kids benefitted from excellent public schools, we believe we should be open to considering whether this referendum is based on quality and economic issues that deserve our vote. We decided two factors would influence our decision.


We like the idea that this school district is focused on kids and their learning, not fancy new buildings that are not the primary drivers of quality, quality our schools demonstrate each year with their exceptional student test scores, a tribute to the effective Eden Valley Watkins District leadership and its dedicated teachers. Excellence, while containing costs, is the best indicator of quality.


Voting to pay more taxes for our schools should be tested on good investment grounds. How is this vote for the schools in our economic interests as taxpayers? While continuing to assure quality education might be a sufficient benefit for some, others of us will want to know how this will impact school revenues overall.

It is clear that we need school building improvements to support very basic updating and additions to school facilities, but together with the new classrooms in Watkins and in Eden Valley, how are these investments intended to produce economic benefits?

First, because our high-quality reputation attracts kids from other school districts, we can sustain and grow that potential, and they bring money with them, a per-student revenue flow from which we benefit as property-owner taxpayers.

Second, because the building improvements are intended to be accompanied by upgrading technology capacity in the classroom, where such investments are shown to produce more efficient and enhanced quality teaching, thus it potentially reduces overall costs.

And third, as a direct benefit to us as taxpayers, we have considered how high-quality schools have a huge bearing on the value of our property. Families choose their home location, based in large part, on the quality of schools. Studies have shown that when referendums like ours pass, there are measurable economic returns based on increases in property values.


We are proud to be residents of a school district that is efficient in managing the spending it can control, while producing outstanding student results. When we consider all of the taxes we pay on what we earn and what we spend and what we own, we consider this much smaller investment in the education of the kids in our community a privilege and a duty we will enthusiastically support.

We hope our neighbors will too.

Ron and Lemmie Graham

Watkins (on Clear Lake)