by John Settle
I am voting “no” on Saturday May 4th on the 3 tax renewals for the Caddo Parish School Board (CPSB), – – – and I am urging other Caddo voters to do the same. My reasons are simple, – – – to send a message to the highly dysfunctional Caddo Parish School Board. Here are my reasons for a “NO” vote:
1. None of the three renewals will have any affect on the next year’s school budget; two mileages expire at the end of this year and the third at the end of 2014. If all three fail and are not renewed at a later date, the tax deficit would have no impact until the 2014-2015 school year.
2. One third (1/3) of Caddo schools are rated “F” under the state accountability system and could be taken over or closed by 2014. A state school take over means local tax dollars go to the state for that school’s student population.
3. Caddo parish taxes are the second (2nd) highest in Louisiana – 20 mils higher than Baton Rouge.
4. The Caddo school system is in a leadership void – Dr. Dawkin’s contract was not renewed and thus he is a lame duck until the end of his contract in August of this year.
5. The Caddo Parish School Board has failed to manage its finances prudentially; what was once a budget surplus of $40 million when Dawkins became superintendent will mostly likely be exhausted at the end of the upcoming (2013-2014) school year.
6. The School Board has failed to acknowledge the impact of Magnolia Charter School opening this Fall; its 500 students will bring with them state funding for each child.
7. The Caddo Parish School Board ignored the reality that at least three high schools should be closed due to student populations less than 500 and continuing academic under performance – – Booker T. Washington, Fair Park and Green Oaks School. Minority schools in minority neighborhoods can no longer be justified on the basis of history, neighborhood unity or racial rhetoric.
8. The tax renewal campaign is false and misleading – -due to increased values in real estate, new assessments will result in the payment of more taxes over the life of the ten year rental term.
In summary, the Caddo School system is a slowly sinking boat – and has been for the last five more years. Presently the system has no real direction, severely declining income, and no plan in place for the future. A ten year tax renewal is being requested when the school system lacks a twelve month vision – much less a ten year plan of action.
The current School Board is in office for three more years; and the only way to send a message to this dysfunctional group is to vote “NO” on May 4th. A defeat of the tax renewals would be a loud and clear message by taxpayers. The tax renewals are, in effect, a referendum on Caddo public education. Need I say more?