To the editor:
Community growth, progressive, deserve, data-driven decision making, and tax-neutral, are a few of the words and phrases I have read and heard over the last few months regarding the facilities upgrade.
I am the only school board member that can claim they attended gatherings hosted by the two local PAC’s on the upcoming referendum. I do think it is also important to note that I choose to attend the DCPAC event against the advice of the Indiana School Board Association (ISBA), which to put bluntly, is an Indianapolis based lobbying group. However, the ISBA is only one of two lobbying groups at play in this referendum. The other is the Indiana Superintendent’s Association (ISA). These are very influential groups and deserve mentioning as their ideals and sponsors are hard at work in our community on the referendum and I encourage people to visit their websites and formulate your own opinions.
First, there is no question that both groups of people want what is best for our schools and the community! However, there is a difference of opinion on what that looks like and that is perfectly acceptable and we all need to be respectful of each other’s opinion.
Tax neutral is a phrase that has been used quite a bit and is a short way of stating that your effective tax rate will be relatively unchanged to the amount of tax one is paying today. This is nothing more than a gimmick to divert attention away from the big picture.
Data-driven decision making has popped up in many letters lately (especially after a school board training session with the ISBA), and I am trying to understand what data was used to drive this decision by the prior board. I have not seen any financial numbers or an estimate of the anticipated enrollment increase. Was there a feasibility study completed that analyzed the economic impact to our communities and DeKalb county as a whole? With the total price tag near $60M with principal and interest, I would have thought this would be best practice.
Many letters have also stated that the children deserve these upgrades. There are 14% of children living in poverty in DeKalb county with over 40% of the students in DeKalb Central on free or reduced lunch. Children deserve food, clothing, shelter, and an opportunity to receive a practical education as education is the only proven and repeatable tool that can help lift people out of poverty.
Finally, there have been some that have stated the current referendum is a progressive idea that will drive community growth. They claim that a Fieldhouse will draw people to move to our communities, with no data to back up the claim.
I prefer to use a forward-thinking approach in which we finally decide to launch the school system into the 21st century. It is 2019 and one cannot use a debit or credit card to attend an event at DHS. There are many educational possibilities that can be gained from implementing a point of service (POS) system at DHS.
If we could redirect the money for the fieldhouse to a state-of-the-art Technology and Trade center at DHS to help drive growth. These professions are thriving. Given DeKalb’s geographic location, it would be an ideal opportunity that would be wise to explore.
Regardless of what you feel is best for the community, I encourage everyone to vote on May 7th!
“The philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of the government in the next” Abraham Lincoln
Greg A. Lantz, PMP