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School board candidates address ballot issue concerns

School board candidates address ballot issue concerns

March 19th, 2017 by Phillip Sitter in Local News

POLL: How do you plan to vote on Jefferson City Public Schools' Propositions J (65-cent property tax increase to build second high school and renovate existing) and C (45-cent increase to operating levy)?

The News Tribune asked the six candidates running for three available Jefferson City Public Schools Board of Education seats in April the following question:

What would you say to members of the community about the ballot issues, if those community members are living on a fixed income of some kind, or have less of a stake in the public school district (i.e. their children go to private schools, or they don't currently have children in public schools)?

Steve Bruce: "When a community's public schools change from being an asset to a liability everyone suffers. Home values decrease. Businesses and healthcare providers can't attract quality people and eventually relocate. Families who can, move away in larger numbers and the snowball keeps growing. This doesn't have to be us. Father Jones has spoken of a rising tide lifting all. Nothing is more true. Friends, if there was ever a time to come together it is now. For our kids, for our community; voting yes on J and C will pay you personal dividends in very concrete ways for years to come."

Paul Graham: "We can pay voluntarily — or have the state force us. The levy is now $3.69 — very low (Columbia is over $6.00). So the school district is now cannibalizing itself to make ends meet — giving up text books to pay teachers, who then have to teach without texts. So parents are now taking their children out of town or into the private schools, and student performance has now fallen into the 70s. When the scores average in the 50s, we become unaccredited. The state increases the levy, takes over, and we pay. All the rest of the good teachers then leave."

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Scott Hovis: "Many older voters/taxpayers without grand children in public schools often feel there is no benefit to themselves for voting to increase school taxes. All citizens benefit daily from previous generations of "yes" voters, who ensured JC has a continuous flow of well-educated public school graduates. The majority of Jefferson City's private and public workforce today — caregivers, EMTs, police, firemen & city workers are JCPS graduates. Our senior citizens, with many years ahead of them, should invest in their own well-being by investing in the JCPS graduates of tomorrow. I hope patrons of Jeff City join me by voting for J+C!"

Lori Massman: "We have the opportunity to improve property values, give our children a better education, and set ourselves on a path of rebuilding a proud heritage of support for our schools. Jefferson City is a giving community. Our community jumps at the chance to feed families and take care of our aging population and at-risk children. Our community supported Helias and Calvary during their building projects because they saw the opportunities it brought families and our city. It's time for Jefferson City to turn that generosity inward; invest in itself. Each day we are presented with choices. This one is easy."

Don Salcedo: "I respect whatever the good voters of Jefferson City decide. If the bond/tax levy passes, I will implement it ensuring that the facilities are equal, the money is well-spent, but if it doesn't, I will immediately figure out why. A school is merely a building unless it is filled with empowered teachers, focused students, curriculum and supplies and overseen by supportive administration. I urge private-school voters to consider all the above factors and unite with us to solve the problems of JCPS. Many of my supporters are on fixed incomes. I encourage them to simply make a sound, financial vote."

Victoria Sterling: "Everyone has a stake in public education — it is the cornerstone of a democracy. Free K-12 education has developed our workforce and enables people to move up the economic ladder. However, I understand the hesitation of people who are on a fixed income and who are not receiving a cost of living increase this year. I would suggest that those voters support the resource request for the schools, and I would urge them to carefully weigh the issues that matter most to them and vote for what they believe is best."