Letter to the Editor

Taxpayers reminded of upcoming board decision

Sunday, June 1, 2008

To the Editor:

The time is fast approaching for the taxpayer and voters of the Clay Community Schools Corporation to render their decision as to whether or not we proceed with the corporation's elementary schools renovation project.

I don't know if it is the Marine in me, or the country boy, but my passion is up this morning. I'm sitting here thinking of what has transpired since I became involved in this issue. How the corporation has told me that we need to spend money to enhance security, yet Barbra Nicoson found the "model" school with the security equipment they want to match with the door propped open and Northview had someone walk in because a door was unlocked and unattended by staff.

How people have used the weather and security as an argument for replacing the modular classrooms disregarding the fact that eight students died in a brick and motar building hit by a tornado in Enterprise, Ala., on March 3, 2007, with all reasonable precautions taken and most of our students are more at risk getting to school than they are on school property.

How school corporation officials repeatedly stated that the Capitol Projects Fund was not for new construction until I exposed the truth in the pages of The Brazil Times. How this project is based on the opinion of a few as to what our needs are concerning our schools' needs, the needs of the buildings, the options we have and how we should meet our needs instead of fact based upon to laws we must comply with as to the buildings, what education we must support and the recommendations of organizations concerned with education.

We have an average school corporation in a state that is average in a nation that is above average globally. While we can do little to affect the state or national position, we can do something on the local level. We have a graduation rate of about 76 percent. That means that 24 percent of our students do not graduate. We have an enrollment of about 4,000 students, which means that, over 13 years, about 1,000 fail to graduate. It is said that Indiana suffers from "brain drain," but where do our failures go? We need to make a radical change to improve education here.

It has been said that a great deal of the problem is the demographics of our community, yet, last school year, our school corporation spent more than $20,000 in teacher's salary alone to teach one student French IV and nine students dance. As these classes are not required to earn any of our diplomas, that salary could have been invested in helping students who are struggling to read, write and do basic math while the credits were earned in more cost-effective classes.

I have one vote on this. If we are going to improve our system, it is up to the voter and the taxpayer as the school board has already voted to proceed with the project should the remonstrance fail.

Leo L. Southworth,