I would like to address and comment on the Emergency Levy that will be on the ballot this November. As a member of the Shadyside Board of Education I am very much aware of the issues relating to this levy. There have been several letters to the editor debating this levy. I do not wish to comment on these letters themselves since I believe everyone is entitled to their opinion. However I would like to comment on some of the topics that were discussed.
First, it was mentioned that a school district needs to be run like a business. In many ways I agree with that statement. Yes, we have some of the same expenses such as salaries, benefits and utility costs. But since we don't have a product to sell, we can't raise our prices to offset increased expenses. Our major problem is that we are not properly funded by the state. We currently receive less than 50% of our needed funding from the state. It has been over 10 years since the state's system for funding schools was ruled to be unconstitutional and it still hasn't been fixed. We must turn to our community for help. Steps have been taken to reduce costs, but you can only cut so much before the quality of the education being offered will decline.
Secondly, a comment was made that it is the duty of the school district administration to be good stewards of the taxpayers monies. Once again I agree to a point. However I do believe the main responsibility of the administration is to ensure that decisions are made in the best interests of the students. This is the key point about this levy passing. Pass this levy for the students, for the community and for the future of Shadyside. Speaking of the community, one of the letters to the editors, mentioned consolidation as the answer to our financial problems. While there may be merit in that approach if finances are your only concern, it ignores important intangibles like bringing a community together and tradition. I for one want to see the Shadyside School District survive and prosper in the future.
Thirdly, the topic of disclosing the finances of the district was debated. This information is available at the High School and is also discussed at the monthly board meetings. Anyone wishing to review the financial information only has to make the effort to obtain it. Nothing is being hidden from the public.
Lastly as a taxpayer myself, I do not look forward to tax increases anymore than anyone else. But I do realize the necessity of this levy and the dire situation our school district is facing. Please think about the good that you will be contributing to by supporting our school district. Think about the schools, the community and most importantly, the students of Shadyside. They deserve our support. Thank you.