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Sarasota Thursday, Feb. 18, 2010 5 years ago

OUR VIEW: School tax: a failed proposition

by: The Observer Staff

In most years in Sarasota County, it’s pretty much a given that county voters would support a 1-mill extra property tax for public schools.

But this year, at the end of a severe recession, many Sarasota County voters are questioning and opposing the tax. And for good reason. Columnist Rod Thomson gives four good reasons below. Another reason is illustrated in the accompanying box. And if you look at the county FCAT scores since the tax went into effect in 2002, you’ll see that the $362 million that have been collected from taxpayers and spent by the school district have not resulted in improved performance. Reading and writing scores declined; math scores went up ever so slightly. More money does not mean better results.

Taxpayer-financed education is inherently a failed proposition. It guarantees mediocrity — at best. Think about it: Each child is unique. Thus, the best formal instruction is that which is suited to his own individuality. Public schools can never be fair to all. Besides, in all of history, what union-run, state monopoly has ever excelled?

This table shows the average tuition of 10 private schools in Sarasota County is $6,884, including registration and annual fees. Sarasota County’s 2009-2010 budget shows a cost per student exceeding $18,874. That includes $294.6 million in capital expenditures, $29.8 million in debt service, $38.8 million in federal and state grants and $16.3 million in food service. If only general-fund expenses are counted, the county’s cost per student is $9,732.

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