Wednesday, December 12, 2007

An Educated Guess

As tax season looms, those of us who say “ouch” every year should be pleased that Columbia School District is no longer wasting money suing taxpayers. From: Columbia Daily Tribune.

Janese Heavin of the Columbia Daily Tribune writes:
“Either David Ballenger doesn’t plan to seek re-election or he needs a new campaign manager. Ballenger last night joined the rest of the board in removing the district from the funding lawsuit -- but not before making it clear that he wasn’t doing it for his
constituents. It started when Tom Rose suggested that the board represent its patrons, many of whom have said they do not want to spend any more tax dollars on litigation against the state. Michelle Gadbois raised that same concern to me prior to the meeting, saying she wants voters to trust that board members are good stewards of tax dollars. But Ballenger quickly shot the notion down, saying he will “not be held hostage” by the public. “If we think” getting out of the lawsuit “is best for the district, that’s one thing,” he said. “But I don’t think we ought to make the decision based on whether a levy is going to pass in April.” “I would have never voted to join it in the first place,” Rose countered. Ballenger, who is up for re-election this year, was on the board in 2003 when he and other members voted to join the funding lawsuit.”

Avail yourselves of the democratic process, Columbians, and demonstrate the difference between representing a group of people and being “held hostage” to Mr. Ballenger. Ultimately, though, even he voted against Columbia continuing in the lawsuit.

The vote by the Columbia Board of Education was unanimous that the school district discontinue their involvement in Missouri’s school funding adequacy trial. I think this is the second best move—right next to not having participated in the first place. Many of the board members realized and voiced their concerns about the merit of the case and about using tax money wisely.

Taxes, in my mind, take a backseat to education. But there’s only so much (literally, constitutionally) that you can tax folks. The limited resource of funding forces us to say “is that the best possible use for that money?” If it’s not, then school boards have a moral imperative to examine the issue and redirect the money. Columbia fulfilled that imperative this week, and I can almost guarantee that kids will be better educated if you put the money into the classroom instead of the courtroom.

No comments: