Taxpayers need more specifics

Rob Haworth, Vigo County school superintendent, is floating the idea of $7 million operating referendum ($7 million per year for 8 years) in combination with $4 million in ill-defined cuts. School Board president Jackie Lower believes that the referendum would be “minimally hurtful to our taxpayers.” The projected tax increase is not trivial, especially when it follows new taxes and fees imposed by the city and county. Moreover, the tax increase is just a preamble to a bigger bite for new schools.

The school corporation justifies the request by pointing out that 1) state funding has not matched inflation, 2) the tax cap has reduced funds for transportation, 3) enrollment has declined, and 4) additional employees have been hired. Numbers 1-3 were highly predictable. So the question is, “was it wise to increase staff when faced with declining revenues?”

The increase in staff included more nurses (from 5 to 10), school protection officers (from 30 to 38), school counselors (from 38 to 43), and behavioral interventionists (3 to 16). The increase in the number of behavioral interventionists seems excessive, at least for a school corporation confronted with dwindling reserves. However, it is difficult to argue against the importance of safety and well-being.

Other hires are more difficult to justify. The Vigo County School Board recently hired an individual to develop a corporation marketing/communication plan. What is the school corporation marketing or selling? Was this individual hired primarily to sell the need for new schools? The school corporation also plans to hire a director of technology “to bring control of that totally into the school corporation.” Previously Joink supplied the director. What is the added cost of paying for the director’s salary and benefits? Will Joink still provide some services? Let’s not even talk about the aquatic center director.

Stating that a new hire will provide a worthy peripheral service is not a sufficient justification. Does the service justify diverting money from core teaching? Does the service justify a tax increase?

The $4 million in cuts should be clarified. Reducing staff has been proposed. Who is on the chopping block? Restructuring buildings has been proposed. Does this mean closing some schools? Wage freezes have been proposed. Are poorly paid teachers facing a freeze? These questions and others must be addressed openly.

Vigo County citizens understand that the schools have needs. Nonetheless, passage of the $7 million operating referendum will be difficult in the current environment. I encourage the school corporation to forego glitzy marketing strategies and provide specifics to the public.

— Jim Hughes, Terre Haute

Thankless job for border patrol

A recent letter (July 1, 2019) headlines: “Treatment of Kids Appalling,” by the “Justice Promoter.” This letter basically reports of the cruel and inhumane treatment of illegal alien children. It states the majority of these children have a parent or other relative they can be reunited with. Really! How do you know? 

The first time one “child” is released to a relative and is murdered, the liberals will beat the border patrol to death in the press. The letter states we spend $775 per child per day to hold these children, that figures out to $282,875 a year.

Wow, break that down for me, will you? How does Indiana child welfare’s record hold up? They’re always pointing out kids killed because they were released to a parent or relative by child services, I’m sure that wouldn’t happen with illegals.

Lastly, how the heck do you expect the border patrol to change diapers and take care of unaccompanied children? With months of a 100,000+ illegal aliens invading? What about teenage MS13 members?

I am surprised the border patrol hasn’t walked off the job ... the crap they see would give the average person PTSD. 

I would like to see some of these liberals in sanctuary cities and states take in illegal aliens and feed, clothe and pay for their health care ... What? Can’t afford it? Neither can our government ... it can’t take care of our own citizens, look at our homeless, elderly and others. 

The letter ended with contact your members of Congress and tell them how you feel. I agree, tell them to change the stupid laws that encourage and aid illegal aliens and enforce the laws on the books. If our government can’t control illegal immigration and get some kind of fiscal (Hello, Illinois) control we’re gonna look like Venezuela.

— Tom Egan, Paris, Illinois

Goodwin’s vision shows leadership

Our city’s mayor must supervise the city government, oversee projects to maintain and improve our infrastructure, and lead planning for our city’s future.

That’s a complicated job, from day-to-day management of a large organization to long-term efforts to make Terre Haute a better place to live. 

Pat Goodwin knows how to do all these things. His experience as a civil engineer (and city engineer) make him ready to run the technical operations of city government, and his vision for the city — he calls it Terre Haute 2.0 —shows that he is a leader for our plans for the future.

— Samuel J. Martland, Terre Haute

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