Letter to the Editor on School Board’s proposed tax

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Soon, Natchitoches voters will decide whether the proposed tax that Natchitoches Parish School Board has brought to the table (again) will be passed or failed. The proposed tax would focus on repairing all schools in District 9. These renovations would include rooftops, air conditioning, and better security. Sounds great, right? Well this helpful tax is in jeopardy for being failed…AGAIN!

The proposition is on its third try to succeed with the people. It’s been turned down twice within the last two years. Many, including Dale Skinner say, “…those who don’t support the tax can basically say they don’t support the children…” Dale Skinner’s position is that the Natchitoches League of Voters is a persuasion group convincing people to vote no and preventing the tax from being passed.

Personally, we believe that the tax should be passed because it would be beneficial to all students and teachers. It would provide a better work environment for students and teachers; motivate educators to improve their performance; and provide students with a more comfortable and inspiring learning environment. This could allow teachers and students to work more harmoniously and this would allow higher test scores. It could allow our district grade to improve to an A, which is the ultimate goal.

Let’s look at this in more depth. The tax is only a total of $20 for property valued at $100,000. If your home is valued at $300,000 the property tax for the year would increase $180. Basically, the higher the value of your home, the higher your property tax would be. If you do not own a home guess what? You pay nothing! We asked Mr. Skinner and Mrs. Page whether or not the tax would include commercial property, however at the time of the interview they were unable to answer this question, though they did admit that the assumption was that the tax would include commercial property.

Taking a hard look at the current conditions of our school, NJH-FRJS, the campus still needs major repairs considering the $2 million spent on earlier repairs to the school only did so much (and it was not enough). The restrooms are desperately in need of work, not only for hygienic purposes but also for ease of access, and we need more than one restroom per gender to accommodate all of the student population. The roof is still in need of repairs. The walls need attention. The flooring need to be replaced in some places. Can you explain why in 2018 our school doesn’t have enough computers or any Wi-Fi? There have been too many school shootings in the last few years. We need security. There are no measures of security to protect students or adults on our campus. All we have are cameras and we would need someone hired to only watch them all day…and all they could do is watch as something happened. We are encouraged to participate in sports and other activities; however, the bleachers, track, football field, and play courts are barely holding up. The $18 million the tax would bring in is incredibly needed not only for our school, but all the others.

So, here’s our plea: Go Vote Yes! We need this drastically. We deserve better learning environments. We are your future. We need to be the best we can be.

*Mr. John Winston was not available to speak with us when contacted to find out more about the Natchitoches Voters’ League’s opposing position on this tax.

Jaime Roberson, Liberty Carter, Aniray Augustus

19 thoughts on “Letter to the Editor on School Board’s proposed tax

  1. It’s all just a bunch of talk, an no one really cares about the main goal of educating our kids. That junior high school had roofing work done on it a few years back an no one thought ahead of time about all the major repairs needed to be done inside that building. Maybe it should have remained closed. Parks students should have never been moved. I’m all for having a magnet school. If they wanna vote on raising taxes. A new school should have been on the agenda for the magnet school. It didn’t help transferring students all over the parish. I wish more parental involvement would have been the case but it wasnt. Parents stand up an take a stand. This is our future. Children can’t learn in bad environments . Natchitoches needs to step out of the stone age. Our schools are so behind. Even a small time like Red River parish is managing their school system better. Instead of giving Skinner traveling money put that into our schools. When it’s time to vote where is everywhere at???? Everyone that is in the political ring makes all these promises, but as soon as they are elected they get amnesia . But there will always be plenty of chances to vote an if y’all re elect these people after seeing poor work, ethics , an lies. Then there is really no need to complain when we put them back in these same positions knowing full well its all talk an no positive actions. That’s my take on it. When they show you who they are the first time, don’t allow a 2nd an 3rd time.

  2. Taking a step back, if students can write a letter this articulate, wise and well-thought out, as these three children did, investing in all students by supporting anything that improves their learning environment is obviously going to pay off big. This is not to say, other issues with schools and school board members and superintendents don’t have to dealt with separately. But like one of them said, “the kids are the future.” Indeed. Now all let’s go vote. God bless you.

  3. Many problems are identified here. Where are the solutions? Who wants to be involved in order to solve these?

  4. Our parish has one of the highest sales taxes in the nation, but sales taxes hit new households, young people, old people, and the poor the hardest. Paying a high % tax when you’re trying to furnish your first home as a young family, for example, is tough. That’s why economists call them “regressive” taxes. And, because when sales taxes go up, people change their spending habits, sales taxes are also volatile and unreliable, so governments don’t have a dependable source of income from them.

    In contrast, property taxes are stable and they are under local control, unlike sales taxes. They affect people with enough money to purchase property, so they are less regressive than sales taxes. And property is stable, so local governments can plan for income and expenses, providing services while also being in control of the revenue that pays for those services.

    Raising the property taxes (which are some of the lowest in the nation) to support our mediocre schools is a fair way to solve some of the problems we have with education. It won’t, however, solve the problems of ineffective and untrustworthy leadership. Only replacing school board members and leadership can fix those problems. In the meantime, our youth depend on us to help provide them with better learning environments in our local schools.

      • Yes, I do. And I’d happily pay more in property tax than have a discussion of higher sales taxes or some other method of supporting schools that’s inconsistent and affects people who can least afford it.

        My position is that having a reliable, stable, consistent tax basis for local needs is a good thing and benefits our community, and property tax accomplishes that.

  5. I don’t agree with a property tax for any purpose. I don’t think people that own nothing should be able to raise someone’s tax that has bought and paid for something. And there’s very little going to the class room. Seems like most is going to restrooms and basketball goals and not to education. Look at another way to fund and send more to the classroom .

  6. I would be all for a tax increase to improve things at the schools, get more computers for the students to use, and other things needed. However, I have a few issues. First of all the letter says we need this to “motivate educators to improve their performance” and “provide students with a more comfortable and inspiring learning environment.” I have a problem with motivating teachers to improve. Teachers should be teaching to the absolute best level, or not be teaching. Since when do we reward teachers for mediocre performance and use more tax dollars to motivate them to do their job. If they are doing a great job, then let’s talk about giving them more, but don’t try to motivate someone to do a job. If I don’t do a good job, they don’t motivate me, they fire me. As for the students, I agree that they need the best learning environment, but they should also be held accountable for anything they purposely destroy, and I know that destruction is going on in schools. Some are not taught better, and they do what they think is getting back at teachers. Until these kids and their parents are held accountable, are we just buying materials and improving schools so these things can be destroyed again.

    Let’s see some accountability on the part of all involved. Why are we keeping teachers that either not qualified or don’t care about teaching kids. If there are poor evaluations for teachers, principals and administrators, should not the public who would be paying the higher taxes be able to see the names of the poor performing employees of the school system. There needs to be an assurance that more will be done to see that our tax dollars are not going to waste.

    We need to spend wisely. Why do we extend contracts and then have to buy that contract out when we get tired of a superintendent. I am not for extending any contract until it is up, never before hand in order to keep someone that invariably we will get upset with and fire. Maybe the annual salary for any superintendent is more than it should be for this size district.

    Just a few of my thoughts on this tax we are voting on. I still have a lot of questions.

    • I understand where you’re coming from, BUT just like the home you own requires maintenance (not free) and repairs (also not free); our schools do too.
      Also, this was written by three junior high students who care about their education as well as their peers’. Their opinions, while in some cases may be a bit naive, have merit because they spend the majority of their time there.
      As far as students destroying the campuses, that’s true…when you have over 500 students using ONE set of bathrooms that are almost as old as the building, I’m sure there’s unintentional destruction. How do we hold them accountable?
      And should we not care about the bathrooms, hygiene, and students’ biological needs? It should be okay to have water leaks and freezing/extremely hot classrooms? Should it be okay to have to deny yourself using the restroom because you won’t make it to the class in time to greet your students? How well do you perform at your job in those conditions? Most people perform their best when their basic needs are met…which includes having a good environment to work in.

      • It looks s though there was a LOT of poor planning to begin with in the schools as they were designed & built. I’m not sure you really understood my points. I lived in Texas for years, so I’m used to property taxes for better schools, and I’m not against it. I’m just not sure that the school board is spending wisely. If we have problems with buildings needing repairs, new supplies needed for students,and so forth, then WHY are we paying such high salaries & benefits to the superintendent? I know that we need an excellent person to fill this job in order to have a good school system. So far it seems we are failing in our duties there. We pay well for that position, then the teachers, who should earn more in order to attract good teachers don’t make enough. Then contracts are extended for a superintendent before a contract is even up. Then something happens and we have to buy out that person’s contract. We are throwing good money after bad.

        My point in holding students and their parents responsible, was for the intentional destruction of property, not unintentional. You only mentioned restrooms. I am not against having adequate restroom facilities, but if we held people accountable for intentional destruction of things, there would be some funds coming in for repair or replacement of things. I’m not naive enough to think all intentional destruction can be caught, but having lived in one of the better school districts in Texas, I’m telling you there is far too much destruction going on here. It’s a sad situation when we see it and let it go, no consequences for actions.

        I realize people perform better in better working conditions. My point was that you don’t reward poor teachers to try to make them better teachers. I’m all for a/c in schools. But I’m also for wiser spending by the school district. Does the superintendent really earn as much money as he is paid? Can we look at ways to improve spending? Who in the world ever approved one set of restrooms for a school? And by the way, that is like the poor decisions I’m speaking of. I know it’s a done deal now, but poor choices in spending is the reason people continue to vote against a tax increase for schools. Maybe we need to rethink a lot of things here.

        So please don’t take my points out of context, or misread them all together. I do not know the names at the end of the letter, and perhaps I missed something that would tell me they are students at the jr. high level. I admire their concern for their school, and commend their actions to do something to improve their schools.

  7. It always falls on property owners. First, I agree the current SB, led by Skinner, can’t be trusted. And if it’s about “the children” as Skinner claims, let him donate his entire salary back to fix these problems. How about that Skinner, willing to do that? After all, it’s about “the children” right? No? Oh, I see, it’s only about “the children” when it’s someone else’s money.

    And any of you others advocating for this tax increase. Put YOUR money where your mouth is. Take out a second mortgage on your house and donate that to the cause. Liquidate your savings, donate that. Oh, again, not willing to do that? Guess it’s really not about “the children” after all.

    IF, I say big IF, there is to be a tax, make it a sales’ tax. That way everyone gets dinged, and tourists help pay the bill too.

  8. If raising property taxes for school improvements is such a great idea, then why not raise property taxes for road money too?

  9. All anyone has to do is go and take a look at the schools and decide for themselves. The schools don’t magically repair themselves out of thin air. Buildings wear out, equipment wears out, and all of it needs to be replaced or upgraded at some point.

    Whether you like or dislike the superintendent has nothing to do with upgrades and improvements to the school facilities. It has everything to do with the children and teachers.

    • It’s not about the students and teachers at this point, it’s about the stupid decisions that NPSB and School System have made that has affected the schools and used up most of the funds. Dale Skinner says one thing and then when the tax is passed he does another. This parish has wasted so much money on all these stupid ideas that is not and have worked for the teachers or the students. This parish is not big enough for a “so called Magnet School- because the teachers were hand picked n some don’t have Masters degrees or higher) and this parish is too big for the newest stupid idea that all the kids will housed in one school according to grade level. I blame the problem on having so many school board members that have never been in the education setting or even have a college degree.

  10. I don’t think it’s right to name call if you’re not willing to put your full name on a post.

    • I agree with Jim Crow about housing the kids in one school according to grade level. Considering the terrible traffic flow in Natchitoches and some people will have children attending school on both sides of town it will be a nightmare trying to pickup their kids. In my opinion changing the school setup was ill advised.

  11. Dale Skinner is a liar,who would or could trust this man ? This is the same man who took it upon himself to take numbers from a private call list belonging to the school to cold call parents for their votes.

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