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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Let's be reasonable

When I was a kid, I got pretty good at reading my dad and asking him for a lot more money than I really wanted, knowing I'd get the amount I'd decided on and he'd feel good about having taught me the virtues of frugal restraint. I suppose many kids do that. When I'm in a cynical mood, I ask, "How do you get $100 million out of taxpayers to fix up school buildings?" Scare them with a $500 million request first:

As of the 4:30 p.m. deadline today, the “blue” group, which opposes the project, turned in 1,692 petitions with 33,445 unverified signatures, according to unofficial results from Tera Klutz, deputy auditor for the Allen County Auditor's Office.

The “yellow” group favoring the project submitted 832 petitions with 10,470 unverified signatures.

If we assume invalid signatures will be found at about the same rate on both sides, it seems safe to say that the building project is over, and the major question is what will happen next. Evert Mol, leader of the Blue Squad, says it would be OK with him if FWCS waits the required year, then comes back with a "reasonable" amount for truly necessary repairs, which he puts at $100 million. When I'm not in a cynical mood, that sounds reasonable to me, too, especially if a healthy yearly capital projects fund can be re-established.

Millions of dollars a year have been diverted from that fund to pay for racially balancing FWCS schools, not to mention hard-to-calculate attendant transportation costs for busing. Since the Supreme Court has just ruled that such race-conscious behavior violates the spirit of equal treatment for all, and since no one has been able to demonstrate any substantive educationial value, I know where I would to get the money. That's what seems reasonable to me, but I doubt the school system will see it that way.

Posted in: Our town


Jon Olinger
Tue, 07/03/2007 - 7:22am

The racial balance fund, established by the courts with the active participation of Ian Rolland and Bill Coates is the only fund of its kind in the State, but it seems to be the third rail of education in Fort Wayne. It seems to me that we need to move the Racial Balance Fund back to the Capital Project Fund and find another source for the racial balance fund. As for reasonable... FWCS really is out of touch with the community on many issues, not just the bond. If the board can come together lead the system we may have a chance, but if the leadership comes from the administration it will remain out of touch and likely come back with another 1/2 billion dollar project.

A J Bogle
Tue, 07/03/2007 - 8:07am

A school plan that I think a majority can support must have the following:

Recognise that no one is opposed to improving or maintaining the schools or is against the children- stop this nonsensical rhetoric and lets have a plan that is affordable and makes sense.

Accountability - both for past neglectand mismanagement, and prevention for the future.

A more reasonable price tag, 1 billion, 500 million, whatever - the numbers were just too big for most to stomach on the heals of other tax and utility increases.

Tax fairness - This I believe is the root of most of the opposition and my own personal concern - the board should work with the legislature on finding alternative and fairer sources of funding other than the unfair burden on property taxpayers many of us who do not have children in FWCS and can not afford a $30+ per month tax increase. What about fundraisers and soliciting private donations? Or the lottery - I remember the lottery propoents promising that the money would be used for the schools among other things. At the very least offer a voluntary property tax exemption for the amount of any school building related property tax increase for those not using the school system, or going to an income tax based funding system.

Stop wasting money on consultants, stadiums, advertising campaigns etc. and show the taxpayers that FWCS is spending our money wisely and efficiently.

Make sure that FWCS has recieved realistic and competitive bidding from the contractors.

If a new plan goes thru the board should be required to give regular public progress reports as to how much is spent and where the money is going - they should also periodically report showing the acedemic progress being made as a result of the public investment.

Any new plan that does not include all or most of the above will be destined for failure

Bob G.
Wed, 07/04/2007 - 8:54am

Can't have much "balance", as long as one's finger is on the "scale"....

'Nuff said there.