Reader has questions and concerns regarding school bond

Published 5:21 pm Saturday, March 17, 2018

To the editor:

There are issues relative to the proposed tax increase to support the Vicksburg Warren School District where additional information would be helpful to Warren County voters. These include tax policy and history, academic performance, polling locations, maintenance policy, and VWSD plans to fund the difference between monies to be raised by the bond issue and the total, proposed program cost.

VWSD Trustee, Joe Loviza has written that the “VWSD Board of Trustees and Superintendent do not decide tax increases” (Vicksburg Post, March 4, 2018). This is true, as written, but it is not the whole truth. 

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Budget requests submitted by the VWSD are “requests” in name only. They are actually mandates, and must be funded by the County so long as they do not exceed the state mandated millage cap. Statements editorialized by the Vicksburg Post (Feb. 25, 2018) to the effect that there has been no bond issue in more than 50 years, and again by Mr. Loviza (“in almost 50 years”) are also true, but subtly suggest that there have been no tax increases to support public education in that time. This, of course, is not true.

Beginning in 2012 there were millage (tax) increases over previous years for five straight years to support public education. I did not research data prior to that time frame.

Academically the school district is rated a “D.” Trustee members and District Administrators have correctly pointed out that had the standard not been changed the district would have been rated a “C.” Yes, and had standards been low enough when I was in school I would have been a straight “A” student. Regardless, everyone who would be excited to be a “C” – rated district stand up and cheer! 

The 2017 state results for reading and math proficiency indicate a proficiency rating for the VWSD slightly below 30 percent. To me, that indicates that more than 70 percent of students tested, tested less than proficient. More than 70 percent! Voters need to have explained to them how the proposed tax increase will help move the district to at least a reversal of this sad statistic.

Why will there be only two voting precincts out of 22 available? How many people from Eagle Lake or International Paper precincts will bother to drive to Vicksburg to vote? One could easily be led to surmise that the intent is to suppress voter turnout.

Regarding the leaking roofs. Why have annual, budgeted maintenance funds not been used to fix roof leaks as they occurred?

Lastly, the total, proposed improvements are projected to cost $131.5M. The bond issue is projected to raise approximately $83M (Vicksburg Post, Feb. 25, 2018). What are the details for gaining the $48.5M shortfall associated with  “other existing available funding”?

Robert Peters