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School tax forum: Where were the parents?

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Column by Jim Clark

For quite a while, I’ve been pretty much identified as a “no new taxes” person. I think that government bodies ought to operate within their means, just like many families in America have to do.
But there’s a proposal for a property tax to help the schools floating around, one that would help fund things like art, music, etc., and I find myself leaning toward supporting it.
There was a forum put on last week by the League of Women Voters and the Marion’s United For Education to kick off a push to pass this property tax. It was an informative evening.
But there was one major thing that bothered me, and that was the makeup of the crowd. For the most part, the heads had gray hair or, in cases like me, little or no hair.
In other words, there were few people there who likely had any children in the public schools. So I have to ask, “Where were the parents?”
It would have seemed to me that if this proposed tax is as important to the education of children as backers seem to think, there would have been a bunch of parents and some school-age children there.
Instead, they were conspicuous by their absence.
Is it that the parents don’t care? Were they too busy to spend an hour at a forum that was signing up people to push for something that could result in providing a better education for their children?
If that’s the case, how can these groups who hope to get this levy passed win over the voters, when a forum like this is held and parents don’t show up?
I know that this won’t be on the ballot until November, but still, this meeting was being used to sign up people to help. Hopefully for the children, there will be a gain in momentum from the parents.
One of the questions that came up was why the groups were seeking a property tax and not a sales tax. You can thank a ridiculous state law for that.
Florida law says a sales tax can only be used for buildings, acquisition, etc. It can’t be used to enhance programs in the schools.
This is a silly limitation that legislators should change. If the people are willing to impose a tax on themselves, the schools ought to be able to use that tax to help, without restrictions.
So it would behoove the backers of this proposed tax to get out and enlist the parents of local public school children. This tax is for the benefit of their youngsters … at least they should show some interest in getting it adopted.
Jim Clark is the editor of the South Marion Citizen.