I have some thoughts on the issue of raising taxes for schools. I will not take a position for or against the increase of revenue. Hopefully, my ramblings in this post will allow you to see the dilemma that I have.
Sandra Clark and the E.W. Scripps employees that she supervises out at the Shopper News is all for it. Steve Hunley and the few people of the Focus that work in a phone booth in Fountain City are all against it. So if I am for it, I am with Clark and if I am agin it I am with Hunley. Ugh!
The Support Our Schools organizers have not been forthcoming and transparent about the fact that the primary organizer Virginia Babb is an employee of the Great Schools Partnership. The SOS people like to quote Buzz Thomas the Great Schools Partnership Director. A little bit of transparency and full disclosure of the potential conflicts of interest would make this issue go away.
The Knox County Council PTA is for it. The KCEA (Knox County Education Association) has not taken a position on it, giving the perception that it is agin it. It is an easy assumption that KCEA is agin it in that no new money is being set out for pay increases for teachers (except for any state mandated minimal increase). School officials and board members say that cuts should be away from the classroom, how can you say that when teachers are the classroom? When employees (certified and non certified) that have many years off service never get a pay raise because they top out from any step increase. When non certified (lunchroom, custodial, school secretaries, library assistants, educational assistants and countywide maintainnce employees) top out they receive NO raise.
The Knox Chamber Partnership has endorsed the proposal, I am not sure that helps or hurts the cause. The Public Trust PAC has endorsed the proposal and that is problematic. The reason for being problematic is that the PAC is co-led by former County Executive Tom Schumpert. Schumpert a former Business Manager for Knox County Schools, former Knox County Trustee and former County Executive.
A friend of mine, Jake Mabe of the E.W. Scripps owned Shopper News authored a column that was published in this weeks Shopper News. Mabe was advocating for a tax increase, he detailed how there hasn't been a tax increase and it is time to do it for the children. While my buddy went back to Knox County Ragsdale administration, he didn't go far enough. You see in order to see why some in Knox County is suspicious of raising money for the children, you have to go further back. Go back to the Knox County administration of now Public Trust PAC co-leader Tom Schumpert. You see under Coach Schumpert Knox County imposed the largest property tax increase for a new Justice Center that was never built. The $30 wheel tax under the Ragsdale administration was passed for a new Downtown library that has never been built. Granted they were supposed to move the money to build Hardin Valley High School. So, for this in Knox County that have a longer than most institutional history of Knox County you can surely see the skepticism.
I will defer to the Knox County Commissioners for whether they increase my taxes or have it as a ballot initiative for a sales tax increase. I will live with the decision I elected Dr. Richard Briggs, Mike Hammond and Ed Shouse to do.