On Nov. 6, Bartholomew County voters will go to the polls to cast their votes for local, state and federal candidates for a variety of positions in this presidential election year.
But voters who live within the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. district will have another important decision to make. They will decide whether to approve or reject a 5-cent property tax increase that would fund the expansion of an early education program for 4-year-olds.
The continuation of the Busy Bees Academy would be part of that program. Busy Bees, a preschool program for 4-year-olds that prepares them for kindergarten and offers child care before and after school, started a few years ago with a federal grant. However, that funding is running out.
Voter approval also would allow the half-day Title I prekindergarten program to expand to a full-day program for the first time.
The 5-cent property tax increase would mean a resident with a home assessed at $100,000 would pay an extra $16 for the school portion of the tax bill. The change in the bill overall would depend on other factors in the county.
Approval of the rate increase would generate about $1.8 million to fund the education programs for 4-year-olds.
BCSC Superintendent John Quick said referendum approval would benefit private institutions as well.
The Community Education Coalition, Heritage Fund, Cummins Foundation and other private entities have pledged a total of $900,000 to be split among all the private preschool providers if the referendum is passed.
Quick said $200,000 would go toward improving the private providers’ equipment and technology. The other $700,000 would come in $100,000 annual increments and be dedicated to providing scholarships to children who qualify.
BCSC also would offer busing services for the private providers and their students.
While there is a tendency sometimes for taxpayers to automatically reject any property tax increase, they should consider the implications of what this increase can do before making a decision.
First, look at it as an investment in the community’s future.
The purpose is to provide more educational opportunities for children at a young age. Getting an early start builds a strong educational foundation and makes it more likely that children will perform better in school and achieve higher levels of education.
For parents who have infants and children under 4, or couples who are planning to start families, the benefits of expanded opportunities should resonate on a personal level. This also should have the support of voters who are grandparents.
Employers in Bartholomew County also want a highly skilled workforce. That desire won’t change in the future, especially as many jobs require more technical knowledge and advanced degrees. If our community is to have a sufficient pool of highly skilled workers, making sure young children start with a good educational foundation is a wise investment.
Also, a community with many highly skilled workers is more likely to thrive and grow and become a more desirable place for people to live and work than other communities.
When voters go to the polls on Election Day, they should consider these things when voting for or against the 5-cent referendum.
In terms of an investment for the future of our children and community, the decision should be easy to vote in approval.
Think your friends should see this? Share it with them!comments powered by Disqus
All content copyright ©2013 The Republic, a division of Home News Enterprises unless otherwise noted.