Courier Letters to Editor

Saitta weighs in on long-term plan

Dear Editor,

The School District of Pickens County administration presented its long-term plan to the public and the board. While annual revenue is growing at a 4 percent clip, the administration still wants to spend more money than is coming in, so it is proposing two separate tax increases.

The first is a 4.8-mill property tax increase to borrow another $5.8 million each year for building needs, and the second is an 8.5-mill property tax increase over the next five years to fund two extra employee pay raises, more technology spending and boosting supplies. In total, it adds up to a 13.3-mill tax increase.

My take on the presentation was this — if the board doesn’t increase taxes, the only other choice is to cut classroom teaching positions (putting more students in each classroom) and close up to seven schools.

First, taxes have been raised significantly for the building program. The total school tax rate has risen from 128 mills in 2007 to 165.2 mills today. Also, I can’t see how putting more children in each classroom is going to help better educate students. Some of our smaller schools are the best-performing ones. All three are bad choices.

I think there are better choices than that. I’d like to see the board take the administration’s list of new spending wants and needs and scrub it down to just the needs. The board should also focus on cutting low priority, excessive or wasteful spending in the system, which was missing from the administration’s plan. For instance, why didn’t the administration propose cutting the bonuses given to employees who retire or leave and go to another district?

I think the district is aiming for another tax increase and made the other two choices so unappetizing the board is being pigeonholed into raising property taxes again. I hope the board will seek out and pursue these other options.

Alex Saitta

Pickens County School Board Trustee