I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Monday, February 27, 2012

School District 1/2 Cent Sales-Tax Projects-- Stimulus Good for Escambia County

Opinions vary regarding the 1/2 Cent Sales Tax expenditures that the district is about to begin.

On the one hand you have the Pensacola News Journal, an entity with which I famously disagree often and on many issues, strongly endorsing the school district’s expenditures for rebuilding Ernest Ward Middle School and AK Suter Elementary School.  The PNJ’s Sunday editorial on this subject is rational, balanced, and correct.

On the other hand, Rick Outzen of the InWeekly thinks the district spending millions on facilities for students is an absurd waste of money and that the district is being “fiscally irresponsible.”  His position on this is incredible, and really illustrates his glibness on
district business as well as his acute level of detachment from the

majority of the community that supports these projects.  His disdain for this school district is on display every week as he takes shots at administration and board members individually and misrepresents positions wholesale all the while ignoring the good news that is coming out of our schools and workforce (The re-emergence of Lincoln Park elementary from potential closure by their own initiative and community recruiting efforts, Golden Apple Awards and the fine teachers represented in that competition, Academic All-Star team winning first place in all of Florida and competing in Nationals,  PHS lady Tiger basketball successes, WFHS being named one of the top High Schools in Florida, etc., etc. etc.,)  Ignoring the good news and focusing on speculation, innuendo, and areas of disagreements—I suppose I should not be surprised--Haters will hate.  Luckily and thankfully—the readership of In weekly online, in print, and in all outlets is miniscule compared to the PNJ by every standard.

But here is what is important--I believe that the half cent sales tax expenditures are not only appropriate for the students and taxpayers of Escambia County—I also believe that they are good for the larger community as a whole just by their nature and size.  Two huge, multi-million dollar projects (Suter and Ernest Ward re-build), with contractors and likely subcontractors, architects, engineers, and laborers being put to work, combined with 55 additional projects at all other schools in the county with price tags of up to $100K per location equates to a huge dose of economic stimulus for our local workforce.  Best of all, this money goes to directly and positively impacting the learning experiences of students in our district.  Which is exactly what it is supposed to do.

Of 67 counties in our state, we are one of only 16 that have a taxpayer approved mandate for facilities.  In a year where we will receive $0 dollars from the legislature for maintenance and repair—I thank God daily for the fact that our taxpayers in Escambia County generously approved this referendum.  We are being fiscally responsible, and moreover we are being great stewards of the taxpayer’s resources even if Santa Rosa county resident Rick Outzen believes otherwise.  His voice and opinions have become largely marginalized (self-inflicted by him and his publication) on the subject of our schools-- and I’m thankful for this as well!

No comments: