Letter to Editor

Staff reports

To the Editor:

We have to endure a lot. The fast-buck guys have left a mess: $70,000 an acre vacant land; $30,000 residential lots; and unprecedented taxpayer grants (giveaways, never has to be repaid). But the issues keep coming.

One issue that looms large is the consolidation decision. Down at the District #201 School House, it is difficult to know what people are thinking. The fear is that you don't know what you don't know. The opposition is pretty much a whisper campaign. No one knows how many support the whisperers.

That brings us to my dilemma. No one who supports consolidation wants to make the chance of passage worse. So one week you think better left unsaid (let the Committee of Ten handle it), but the next week you feel that you need to get up off the couch and say something. This week I am in the latter category.

At District #201, we have gone from 'Let's see what Rockridge thinks. I understand the big picture' (translation: If we are short financially, tax the people more; and 'The future is our children, so what's the problem with increasing the tax levy?') to a unanimous vote in April 2008 to support consolidation. Approximately one year ago the District #201 Board was split on the issue. So I have to believe there is a substantial number of people in District #201 (I hope I am wrong) who do not support consolidation.

Curriculum quality depends in part upon finances. The last known assessment valuations for the two districts are as follows:

District    Tax Year        Total Assessed                                 Valuation

District #201    2007            $ 71,175,882

District #203    2007            $ 36,126,844

TOTAL                $107,302,726

From District #201's perspective, the assessed valuation will increase 50.7 percent upon consolidation. Where are you going to find an increase in the assessed valuation like that? Mr. Entrepreneur cannot create wealth like that.

But the financial argument for consolidation does not end here. Presently, there are 294 students at Aledo High School. Upon consolidation, the number will be 420 students. At the present state student aid rate of $5,959 per student, the annual income in state student aid will increase by $750,834 ($5,959 x 126 more students) if consolidation is approved. Operating only one high school with no increase in personnel will benefit everyone.

Consolidation is a chance to thrive instead of just survive. District #201 is already in a deficit mode for this school year. Without more students, cuts in curriculum are sure to follow if consolidation is rejected.

Dwight L. Shoemaker