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School Board disenfranchising some voters

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Column by Jim Clark

The Marion County School Board has decided to put the renewal of a local tax on the primary ballot in August.
So if you’re a snowbird who will leave to go up north this summer, and you’re registered to vote here, make sure you get information about absentee ballots before you leave.
The issue will be decided before you come back.
There are various excuses given for this move by the board. The main one is that in November, there may be as many as 13 state constitutional amendments on the ballot. After all, this is a Constitution Revision Commission year.
By law, local issues must be placed on the ballot at the bottom of the state issues. Some argue that by the time voters get to the bottom of the list, they’re tired and may be inclined to vote no.
So county voters who happen to be snowbirds, and who don’t get an absentee ballot, are being disenfranchised by the board. Let’s be realistic: The snowbirds consist mainly of people who don’t have children in the school system and are more likely to vote down such a tax. But, remember, they will still have to pay the tax if it is renewed.
The tax is currently in effect. There is a committee that is supposed to make sure the money is being used as intended, and I’m sure it’s a good thing if it expanded music and arts programs. (As an aside, I was a band parent 12 straight years: three boys, four years apart).
But there is really only one thing I want to see increased, and that is teacher salaries. I’ve proposed before, and will continue to do so, a state law that would say that no School Board member may be paid more than the lowest-paid full-time teacher in that county.
I’m sure I’ll get a nasty reaction from School Board members, who might get their public information people to write a response. But there isn’t much they can say that would make me change my mind.
So get ready for the PR onslaught, with board members, their representatives or volunteers who work for the schools. There will undoubtedly be forums at which they will appear. And if you’re a snowbird, or you are friends with some, make sure you ask why certain voters are facing an attempt to disenfranchise them.
The answer could be interesting.
Next week we’ll look  at another ballot issue, elected vs. appointed superintendent.
Jim Clark is the editor of the West Marion Messenger and South Marion Citizen