Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Charles Parker: A Little Advice For Our School Board

As I have mentioned before I am a high school teacher.  I am not a member of the teacher’s union and am probably considered more conservative than most in my profession. Hence, I am sometimes somewhat at odds with many at the district offices and in school buildings.
I don’t follow the intricacies of the Brevard Public Schools budget. I get my pay twice a month and as long as that continues I’m cool.  But recently I read the following from the Sunshine State News, “Brevard School Board members are considering whether to ask voters in November to approve a half-cent sales tax to help pay for needed school repairs.”
BPS has people that are in charge of maintenance. I don’t want them telling me how to teach so I won’t tell them how to budget and plan for building needs.  As well I think the superintendent Brian Binggeli is doing a good job (this is not an attempt at getting in good with the boss – I really think that).
However, I will offer some unsolicited advice to the elected school board members about the politics of a half-cent sales tax hike.  It is not a good idea unless a specific strategy is implemented.
You see one problem is that the general public generally has a negative view of schools and teachers and bloated bureaucracies.  Sometimes these impressions are valid and sometimes not.  But they are there.
The initial plan does have merits that will counter this argument against it.
It is targeted.  I am not sure whether the voters will know specific projects, but at least they know basically what it will be used for – school repairs.
It is limited.  The proposed tax hike will have a shelf life.  This strategy has been used in Brevard County before for other purposes and has been successful.
But there is one glaring problem that must be addressed – demographics.  The average Brevard County voter is generally older and does not have school-aged children.  They have been there – done that.
To counter this I have a suggestion. In a very public way, eliminate the BPS vision statement – “To serve every student with excellence as the standard.”  Replace it with – “To serve the community by preparing students to be college-ready and/or job-trained.”  And then actually adopt it.
This will appeal to older voters as they will know that they are being specifically served by public servants with goals that will improve their local quality of life.  Then they may vote to give schools a little extra cash.

You can follow Charles Parker on Twitter @cpbrevard and on BlogTalkRadio from 8:00 - 9;00 pm Sunday evenings - http://www.blogtalkradio.com/the-charles-parker-show/2012/04/30/the-charles-parker-show

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