by Elliott Stonecipher
Facts bubble up...

On the day of its vote, the Caddo Parish School Board – according to a Shreveport Times report (SEE article here) – is finally getting around to releasing a handful of facts about its intention to borrow another $134,000,000 in bonds.

To boot, CPSB has yet to bother to tell the public anything – not one word – about the details of its proposed sales tax increase, a proposal which – in fairness, and possibly law – should not be allowed to come to a vote on today’s first reading.

If the sales tax is considered, will it be for teachers only, or other employees, too?  How large are the raises?  Will they be across-the-board, fixed annual amounts?  If the money haul is the estimated $22,500,000 a year, and IF all 6,000 employees are to get a raise, the average annual raise with benefits would be $3,750.  Since we know, though, that Central Office folk could easily get much higher raises than those for anyone else, is there a cap … $10,000 or $20,000 or $50,000? … or no cap at all?  Will the Superintendent’s lucrative deal get even better, just after his new $10,000 bonus?

Also not mentioned by the CPSB and administration is how much our property taxes could drop if this latest scheme does NOT pass.  That, however, is typical here:  Shreveport and Caddo taxpayers are never given that bit of information by the tax-and-spend, spend-and-tax politicians.  As a result, our property taxes only go up … never go down.

How to Hear Only What You Want to Hear

Dottie Bell gives it to taxpayers

Interesting, too, in this article is the comment to the reporter by CPSB member and sales tax proposal sponsor, Dottie Bell:  “… she has received nothing but calls thanking her for bringing the motion to the board.”  In fairness to Ms. Bell, I don’t know what she precisely said – the reporter does not relate this characterization of Ms. Bell’s comments as a direct quote – but I do know constituents of hers who tried to speak to her in opposition, but Ms. Bell refused any discussion of her own proposal.  That’s the sure-fire way to be able to say everyone agrees with you.

Where Board Members Are, or Seem to Be

Throughout the Times article, Board member Barry Rachal articulates the positions – purely logical – of those who oppose any further taxpayer largesse to the CPSB.  This is not surprising since Rachal has opposed previous bond issues even, in one case, when the Alliance for Education was in support.  He takes most of the criticism (and worse) from the tax-and-spend Board members and the administration for a simple and sad reason:  he does his homework, and operates with and by the facts, including that this system can no longer do what it, very expensively, exists to do.  Mr. Rachal can “turn down” this proposal’s supposed new school for Southeast Shreveport (my home area, and his) because he knows it is only now being offered by the administration and a few Board members as a gimmick to gain his supportive votes today.  That’s an old-fashioned Louisiana political “inducement” of the worst kind:  the kind which proves the political reform train has never stopped at Shreveport and Caddo’s station.

Is the is "Knee Jerk?"

Board members Curtis Hooks, Larry Ramsey and Steve Riall deserve public identification, too, as members with whom I have personally spoken who oppose these proposals as knee-jerk political expressions from the political left … not well-thought-out funding proposals from a responsible public body.

Many residents and taxpayers, to my certain knowledge, are also contacting their Board members in opposition to both of these proposals.  In reports I have heard back from those contacts, it may be that members Bonita Crawford, Charlotte Crawley, Ginger Armstrong, Jasmine Green, Mary Trammel and Lillian Priest are also expressing such opposition.  Knowing the CPSB history, however, means we must await the voting before we’ll know which members actually oppose.

The Rest of the Story

Many Board members and others – notably, the Alliance for Education – know the real cynicism of what a few Board members and the administration are setting-up here:  even if these proposals are voted onto an election ballot, and even if voters approve them,  there will still be a $25,000,000 to $40,000,000 operational deficit for the school system.  These proposals will not fund that deficit.  Thus, “armed” with $134,000,000 in bond money and $20-25,000,000 in new annual sales tax revenue dedicated to employee raises and benefits, a lot – hundreds – of teachers and other personnel will lose their jobs.

What responsible elected official, or “steward of the public trust” – I must put it in quotes, because it seems anymore to be an empty notion – gives hundreds of teachers and others a pay raise which system “leaders” know the person will never get?

Elliott Stonecipher

For any reader who may not know, this and all other such analysis and commentary I forward to you has been done strictly in the public interest. No compensation of any kind has been solicited, offered or accepted for this work.

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