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+ Why I am voting yes for the school-tax referendum
I am a new Sarasota County resident; my husband and I moved our family to Sarasota from central New Jersey in March 2008. This was a big move for us and we had a lot to consider. We boiled our decision down to culture and school districts. We did a ton of research online with regard to finding the best schools for our children, and Sarasota stood out among our choices in the state of Florida. When we first arrived, we enrolled our boys in private schools. However, once we realized the many programs that were offered through the public-school system, we transferred our son to Sarasota Middle School so that he would have these programs made available to him.
I was surprised to learn about the upcoming school-tax referendum vote and the issues raised. We plan to live here for the rest of our lives, and the children currently enrolled in the public school system will no doubt grow up to become leaders, educators and caretakers in our county. I, for one, would like to know they received the best education possible. That’s why I am voting yes on March 16 for the referendum for our schools.
+ The issue of heart disease and women is critical
In this month’s Health Matters section, the issue of women and heart disease was discussed. It is vital that we talk about this because a recent American Heart Association survey found nearly half of American women don’t know heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women.
I am a strong supporter of the HEART for Women Act, federal legislation aimed at reducing death and disability from heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases in women. The HEART for Women Act aims to improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of heart disease in women by educating women and health-care providers about the most effective treatments for women.
We have to stop thinking of heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases as a “man’s disease.” They are killing our mothers, sisters and friends, and there is much more Congress can do. This Heart Month, I urge our lawmakers to cosponsor the HEART for Women Act and help save lives.
+ Why hold the referendum in March and not November?
News items on the school tax often mention that in two previous referenda the tax was approved but there have been three, not two, school-tax referenda in Sarasota County in the past, and in that first one, citizens had not approved but resoundingly rejected this tax.
The first tax referendum, held in the month of November, together with a general election and its customary large voter turnout, decidedly showed that the tax is unpopular. So the School Board, the teacher union and the merchants benefiting from school spending got together and decided not to hold subsequent referenda during general elections in the month of November when voter participation is high, but in special elections held in March, when practically the only ones showing up to vote would be all the thoroughly mobilized teachers and the employees of merchants who live off the school budget. And, indeed, with around only 14%, pitifully low March voter turnout, the unpopular tax passed in the past.
The additional costs to taxpayers for holding a special voting in March, rather than together with the general election in November, is $250,000, and all those millions of tax dollars that past referenda handed the schools did nothing to enable our children to read and write at minimum state standards.
If you apathetically stay home and don’t go vote “no” on March 16, the well-mobilized school bureaucracy will continue raiding your pocket while children here will continue remaining virtually illiterate. Go vote and teach schools some fiscal discipline in these hard economic times.