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Letter: Proof lacking on need for pre-K program


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Note: The statements, views, and opinions contained in this letter to the editor are those of the author and are not endorsed by, nor do they necessarily reflect, the opinions of The Republic.

From: Larry Jackson

Columbus

Received: Sept. 10

Columbus needs a Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. pre-K program about as much as BCSC needs more land around their administration office at 13th and Central.

Is it really surprising to anyone that a “broad based group of community educators” are giddy about adding a pre-K program at BCSC? I’m sure they can’t wait to get their hands on the additional $1.8 million of taxpayer’s money. It’s like waving a piece of meat in front of a hungry dog. They might not be so happy when they get their property tax statements.

Now when it comes to support of “other community leaders,” you have me puzzled. I’m not sure I know what an “other community leader” is. Possibly someone could send me a definition or, better yet, could meet me at the corner of Fifth and Washington streets to point them out to me as they walk by. I’d love to meet them and ask a few questions. Where do they live? Do they feel like they aren’t paying enough property tax? Have they truly considered what a hardship a property tax increase is on those with fixed incomes or households struggling with budgets that have little or no disposable income? Have they thought about the fact that a property tax hike will force landlords to raise the rent on the very families this program is suppose to help?

“Our 4-year-olds are worth it.” Of course they are worth it. Who says they are not? That is not and never has been the question.

The question is, do we need or want a pre-K program at BCSC. It appears that statement is an attempt to put taxpayers on a guilt trip. Be cautious, while BCSC tugs on your heartstrings with one hand, they are reaching for your wallet with the other. BCSC would have you believe that all our 4-year-olds are doomed if we don’t have a pre-K program at BCSC, that we are all somehow guilty of neglect or cruelty if we don’t approve the tax increase to fund their pre-K program. Nothing can be further from the truth.

What about the federally funded Head Start program? It is my understanding that Head Start fees are income based. Why is BCSC acting like Head Start doesn’t exist? I know it is still operating, I keep seeing their cute little yellow buses all over town.

With over 20 private pre-K programs and Head Start, you cannot convince me that we need a BCSC Pre-K program at an annual budget of $1.8 million. At best it is a case of naive redundancy on their part. At worst, it is a power grab resulting in a BCSC pre-K program that will eventually be the only game in town. Mark my word, if we allow this program to continue, the cost will double to twice that amount in three to five years, as a result of the forced closure of the many excellent private programs.

For low-income families that would be like a private school instead of Head Start, all we have to do is generate some financial aid, possibly vouchers, funded by the many local foundations. How much can that cost? You are looking at maybe $150,000-$200,000 per year versus a proposed $1.8 million boondoggle at BCSC.

Why continue and expand a very expensive and unneeded program at BCSC when there is such a simple and far less expensive option?

Please yell “No” loud and clear with your vote on Nov. 6.

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