October 2, 2008

School District Also Has A Bridge For Sale

The Buffalo News is reporting that the Lockport City School District is planning to spend millions on renovations to bring the high school into the 21st century at no burden to property owners. The improvements include complete renovation of the school’s technology wing, the creation of a performing arts center, including the renovation of the school auditorium and surrounding music rooms, the addition of about six special-education classrooms, the creation of a new fitness center, and the upgrading of science laboratories, windows for energy efficiency and kitchen facilities, in addition to other renovations.

According the the News, the board was told by its consultants that even under the current worst-case economic situation, the district could spend $21.5 million on renovations to bring the high school into the 21st century at no burden to property owners.

They said that if the board does everything it’s thinking about, including creating a new football stadium complete with artificial turf and renovating campus softball fields, the project could run up to $29.5 million.

The board expects to borrow $18 million to pay for the project at the low end, along with $3 million from its capital reserve fund and about $544,000 in state Expanding Our Childrens Education and Learning funds, which it is entitled to use. The state would reimburse the district to the tune of 80 percent of the cost.

Reading the above, did you catch it? Did you catch the statement that these are "renovations to bring the high school into the 21st century at no burden to property owners"? I did. And I heard it said on the radio this morning too.

If the district is borrowing $21 million, and using $3 million from its capital reserve, how is there no expense to the taxpayers? And the statement that 80% of the expense would be reimbursed from the state? Ummmmm, where is the state going to get that 80% from? The taxpayers.

This is the epitome of what is wrong with our school districts; a complete and blatant disregard for the taxpayer. To attempt to convey this renovation package is not impacting taxpayers is tantamount to perpetrating a blatant fraud against those same people.

There IS an expense to the taxpayer, whether it's directly through the school district's taxing jurisdiction or through the state's reimbursement, the taxpayer is paying for this project.

Do I want to see the district have updated facilities? Of course, I have two children in the district. But do not attempt to sell it to me as a "no cost to me" plan. It's bullshit and it's insulting to my intellect.

It's amazing that a week or two after the Tax Foundation's finding of Niagara County having the highest taxes in the country as a percentage of home vales this announcement of this multi-million renovation is announced, and not a single criticism will be found in the local rag.

Why? Because it's for the kids. Please. Stop the propaganda. We all know that the overwhelming majority of the reason for our ranking is our school taxes, but the idiots at local editorial boards are too stupid, too ignorant or too afraid to call it the way it is.

If you the district wants to make improvements, go for it. But while doing it, please don't tell me that the emperor is fully clothed. We know he, and you , are standing there completely naked. And if you're on the school board and don't know what that's a reference to, go back and re-take 6th grade English.

1 comment:

Paladin said...

Thanks for that post, Hobbes. I recently read that roughly two-thirds of the local property tax burden is...you guessed it! School taxes. Amazing. The county government, the city government or town government--they repair roads and bridges, maintain vital records, administer huge social programs...and yet, the schools that aren't educating our kids are eating up our tax dollars.

I wish those of us who actually work past 3 o'clock and don't get summers off could just pick the taxpayers' collective pocket.