Why I am Voting NO on the School Board Bond Package and the Biomed Tax Renewal

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Opinion by John SettleI will vote “NO” on the $108 million bond package on May 2 for many reasons:

  1. The bond package does NOT provide any salary increases for teachers, classroom staff, or the rank and file school employees from custodians to cafeteria workers. Caddo teacher pay now ranks 30th in the state.

  2. The bond package does NOT address Caddo’s totally unacceptable high school graduation rate of 67%. The Bossier graduation rate is 80% and Desoto’s is 95%.

  3. The bond package was developed and put on the ballot without ANY citizen input—only secret meetings by central office staff with school board members.

  4. The bond package includes a $25 million for a proposed new high school for southeast Shreveport (23% of the package) that has NOT been justified by student population nor construction expense.

  5. The bond package ignores the fact that the Caddo student population has declined by 20,000 students since 1970—and it continues to decline—even though Caddo and Shreveport ad valorem taxes are some of the highest in the state.

  6. The Caddo superintendent, central office staff and school board members have been less than truthful on school student enrollments, school expenses, school closures, and future student/school needs.

construction_SillouetteI realize that there are some construction needs—such as a new elementary school for Blanchard—as well as some improvements to existing facilities. However the process for determining this bond package was flawed from the beginning and the extraordinary (and perhaps illegal) tactics utilized for its passage including mandatory teacher and staff meetings for review of the bond package, utilization of school board resources to send letters to parents on the package and using robo calls to parents reminding them to vote is reflective of a dictatorial central office staff.

Caddo citizens deserve better from their school board members, the superintendent and the central office. Voting NO is not only fiscally prudent, but also the appropriate message to send to these public servants that tax paying constituents are not be ignored. I want to improve Caddo’s public schools but at the same time I want tax dollars to be spend wisely.

I will also vote “No” on the Biomed Foundation Tax Renewal for many reasons:NO Votes!

  1. This tax does NOT expire until 2018– yes, 3 years from now.

  2. Biomed utilizes tax dollars for buildings rented to tenants NOT in the medical field– competing with private business landlords. Biomed operated the University Health Shreveport (LSUS) and Conway hospitals at a $700,000 loss over the first 12 months of operation.

  3. Biomed constantly refuse to fully comply with public records request under the Louisiana Public Records law.

  4. Biomed makes exaggerated/misleading claims as to jobs “retained or created”, expansion of tax base and economic diversification.

  5. The Biomed Foundation has always operated under the radar without full public disclosure of its finances, operations, and real economic impact. The transfer of the LSU hospital to Biomed by Governor Jindal jeopardizes the economic stability of the LSU medical school in Shreveport.

Biomed has plenty of time to have this tax renewed. The request for such an early renewal seemingly is indicative of economic troubles that have not been fully disclosed to the public.

John E. Settle, Jr.
Shreveport Resident

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