Mehlville School District citizen speaks on behalf of ‘forgotten taxpayers’

To the editor:

Many proponents have written or spoken on behalf of the Mehlville schools, teachers, students and services, but few have written or talked on behalf of the forgotten taxpayers.

Not everyone can withstand a tax increase. Many struggle financially, many barely survive on fixed incomes or single incomes; many are jobless or work for less wages; many are seniors; many are small-business owners; and many do not have pensions.

A recent letter writer compared Social Security income and school tax-rate increases over the last six years, stating, “… The cumulative growth in Social Security cost-of-living adjustments was 13 percent.” After checking my taxes for the last five years, my average increase was $230 per year. My total increase from 2013-2014 was a paltry $263 —a far cry from his numbers.

In addition, my $263 increase did not begin to enhance my income enough to cover the increases in Medicare Part B, Medicare Drug Program D, supplemental insurance and increasing prescription prices. If this writer has had two household incomes and has been able to amass a comfortable retirement portfolio because of his personal situation, that may explain his zeal to increase taxes.

Another forgotten taxpayer that district proponents fail to recognize are those who “save” the school district millions — parents who sacrifice to send their children to Christian, parochial or private schools. They pay dearly to educate their own children, so should they be eager to bus and educate the children of others as well?

The usual response is: “It’s their choice.” If all the privately educated children enrolled in public schools tomorrow, the present budget would be dramatically increased by many millions, as more schools would be needed, increased demand would be placed on the current system and major tax-rate increases would be required.

Another issue that lacks substance is the value of teachers based on income. District reasoning is educators must be highly compensated to draw good teachers to Mehlville. Parochial school teachers make considerably less in wages and pensions, debunking the myth that teachers’ merit and expertise is based on their salaries.

These teachers are highly competent and are dedicated to teach, despite of the size of their classrooms or paychecks. Statistics bear these schools have higher graduation rates and overall test scores.

A reasonable alternative to raising taxes for all is to specifically assess fees for non-essential services to students benefiting from the system until budgets can be balanced. At that time, a thoughtful approach to maintaining a level spending plan must be a mandate. No longer can this burden be placed on everyone in the district to finance “complete” public education.

We seem eager to openly welcome all kinds of social changes these days, so change to the educational system is currently warranted as well. In these changing times, the circumstances of the forgotten taxpayer must be considered.