By Wayne William Cipriano
Like you, I buckled my seatbelt and returned my seat back to the fully upright position and then read the school board article in the Jan. 30, 2014 edition of the Douglas County Herald.
I was dismayed to learn Superintendent Brian Wilson is leaving Ava. I have met with him only two or three times discussing controversial issues and always finding him extremely well-prepared to respond to any question I might ask, and demonstrating in each of our encounters, a deep dedication to advancing the level of educational excellence in our public school system. I’m not sure what draw Hollister has over Ava, but I am sure this is Hollister’s gain and Ava’s loss.
There is a silver lining here and that is the superintendent we get in exchange. Dr. Nancy Lawler is an exceptionally aware and committed educator whose insight and direction shared with us over time has the potential to advance our schools’ educational horizontal horizons. This is Ava’s gain.
Another significant aspect of the article was noted below the headline and found at the end of the article… the proposed property tax increase supported by all the school board and placed, I believe, on the upcoming April election ballot. It was reported that this proposal would increase student safety and security.
Like you, I find myself waffling between– a) a bleeding heart liberal prepared to embrace any technology, forward any idea, spend any amount that could in any conceivable way marginally, hopefully promote the safety and security of our students; and– b) the staunchest, most adept actuarial conservative realistically evaluating the tiny, almost infinitely small probability that some of these costly provisions will ever serve any purpose at all.
How can we know which way or which combination is best?
Where can we find reliable data uninfluenced by the benefits collected by involved parties having nothing to do with student safety and security and much to do with commercial profit or extreme philosophy?
We are truly ignorant here, aren’t we?
Who can see the future?
And, being equally ignorant as to what the future holds and what if anything we can do or should do to meet whatever challenges may arrive, should we all not have an equal voice in our collective response? And we do, when we vote.
Does the student, teacher, parent, lawyer, law enforcement officer, social worker, psychologist, carpenter, businesswoman or rancher have the inside track on these decisions? Of course not. Each has concerns and responsibilities. Each makes known their druthers. None can foresee for sure. So we vote, trusting in the collective power of our society.
It is this necessity to offer our collective will, collective understanding, collective treasure, collective experience, collective abilities that requires each of us to consider the issues, discuss issues, decide the issues and vote. We choose the best course we can, consider as many possibilities and probabilities as we can, then mark “Yes” or “No”.
For all these reasons and many more, all voters and citizens should help decide what we will do. And, it is particularly important when we address ourselves to the issues of our children’s safety and security.
Thus, how can the school board defend placing such an important, expensive issue on the ballot of an election that so few citizens attend?
We all understand the strategy of scheduling tax increases for elections over-weighted by beneficiaries of these issues, and under-attended by those adverse to the issues and often those providing the taxes themselves. It is politics.
But when a political entity like our school board is convinced of the necessity of such action, sure in the knowledge that the utility of the action far outweighs the cost, that the need is serious and imminent, why not offer such action to the largest group of voters –– citizens who parent those student, pay taxes benefit directly or indirectly from a safe secure public school system that educates those to whom we will pass the world?
If this were an emergency that could not wait for the next general election where many more concerned voters will present themselves, then April it will have to be.
But, if this is not an emergency, if there are long-standing issues that need the attention of a long-lasting payment schedule, as all tax increases are then this issue should be offered to as many of us as possible for our collective judgment and collective financial agreement.
This measure should be examined under the magnifying glass of a very well attended election. That is the basis of the constitutional republic in which we live: we decide as many of those things as we can together.
That decision should be made in November, not April.