Tomorrow is a very important day for the Colonial School District community, as voting takes place for their Operating and Capital referenda. Polls are open 10am-8pm and you can vote at any of the locations listed here. You need only be 18 years of age or older, a US Citizen, and a resident of the Colonial School District. You will need something that shows you live in the District (Photo ID, utility bill with name an address, pay stub with name & address, etc). That’s it.
I could use this post to explain the calculations behind the tax increases being proposed, but at this point I feel that people who are voting no are set in their ways and nothing can sway them to the other side; the same can be said of those who will be voting in favor. (Though if you are interested in the math, feel free to read about it here.) This all comes down to turnout. If Colonial Nation turns out to vote for each ballot measure, they’ll win the day. If you live in Colonial School District, or know someone who does who meets the 3 criteria above (at least 18 years old, lives in the district, and is a US Citizen) urge them to show their support for public education by going out to vote FOR the operating measure and FOR the capital measure.
The reality is this. School districts in Delaware depend on local property taxes to function. Delaware’s an outlier in our region in terms of how we pay for our schools. Our neighboring states rely much more heavily on property taxes than we do to pay for schools. In every district, the State government provides a majority of the funding and property taxes are used to make up the balance. We’re all aware of the budget issues Governor Carney and the General Assembly have to solve this year, and with the ruling out of any State taxes being created or raised, that leaves one option: austerity measures for State spending. There is no doubt education, being ⅓ of the State budget, will be hit hard, anywhere from 5-15% reduction in funding is the scuttlebut. So right now, it’s incumbent upon District residents in Colonial to step up and keep their schools strong and operating at their current levels. The District needs the additional revenue to keep supporting their nearly 10,000 students on a daily basis. The children that walk through Colonial’s doors each day will be the ones working in our community in 10 years. They need and deserve the best education we can possibly give to them.
What are the increases looking like in Colonial? According to the District, after the 2 year phase-in of the increase, the average property will see their taxes increase by ~$25/month. (from $1,302/year or $108.50/month, to $1,587/year or $132.25/month) $1587-$1302= $285/12 months = $23.75/month increase. $1,587 per year for schools is a lot of money, for that matter so is $1,302. But remember, that’s for an entire year. What does that figure look like if you break it down to day-to-day costs? Well, currently in Colonial the average property owner is paying $1,302 / 365 = $0.036 per day. 3.6 cents. Less than a nickel a day. After referendum passage, what would you be paying then? $1,587 / 365 = $0.0434. 4.3 cents. STILL less than a nickel a day. A nickel a day for public education for 10,000 children? This should be a no-brainer!
Still though, it is no joke to vote to raise your own taxes. It is no joke for a district to come and ask you to raise your own taxes. This is taken very seriously by every single School Board and District Administration every single time a referendum is proposed. We can’t budget cut our way to more successful schools in Delaware. We can force Districts to be as lean as possible but there’s no stopping the perpetual rise in costs year after year that Districts have to absorb. It’s the system we have to deal with and it leaves but 2 choices for residents to make: Sustain Student Services, or Cut Student Services. I’m a solid yes voter every time my District asks for a referendum because I recognize how important it is to have our schools be as well prepared as possible for students. I recognize that it will hit me in my wallet when my taxes go up, but that’s part of living in society. You support the systems that once supported you, your friends, and your family.
Until we redesign the school funding systems in Delaware and establish new sources of revenue for the State, Districts have little choice but to continue turning to their communities for additional financial support.
Tomorrow, Colonial Nation. Get out there and vote FOR each ballot measure! Every single student and educator will thank you, and you’ll be thanking yourself about a decade from now.
Remember. LESS THAN A NICKEL A DAY FOR 10,000 SCHOOL CHILDREN!