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Taxpayers Pay Whopping Amount To Send Kids To Public Schools

Ron Williams

At the request of several Packet readers, I’ve compiled a list of cost comparisons for Columbus City and Lowndes County residents as far as paying taxes to the local school boards for both entities. This is local taxpayer money, which would not include the state part of it.
With the help of city/county tax assessor/collector Greg Andrews, the following statistics were developed. In Columbus, approximately 4560 students (Pre-K through High School) attend several campuses throughout the city. City taxpayers paid $13,503,350 in school taxes (not including an annual bond amount of $657,000, which will double to $1,300,000 in 2014. RW). Out of those stats, it can be determined that it annually cost city taxpayers $2,961.26 to send one child to school for a school year.
By comparison, in Lowndes County, approximately 5,000 students attend 3 campuses with 3 buildings on each campus. County taxpayers paid $14,375,760 in school taxes last year. The cost per student to send one child to school for a year in Lowndes County is $2,875.
But in 2014, you’ll have to add the $1,300,000 bond payment to the city annual taxpayer amount, which will obviously increase the annual cost per child average. County residents don’t pay as much taxes as city residents, though city residents generally enjoy more convenient services. The county schools also have 440 more students than the city, and still the cost per child is cheaper in the county.
The Columbus Municipal School District will owe $2,667,100 to pay its way this school year. Though the budgeted amount is only $1,685,000…leaving them nearly $1,000,000 short for the current school year. (I couldn’t get a hold of Greg Andrews before presstime, but I believe he meant for these figures to stand as a final amount at the end of the current school budgeted year, taking into account taxes collected between now and the end of the fiscal year. I spoke with Packet Senior Reporter Brian Jones, who attended Monday night’s CMSD school board meeting. Jones said that CMSD Business Manager Ken Hughes stated that the school district had collected $987,000 in ad valorem taxes in the past 4 months. From that, one could assume another million dollars in taxes could be collected between now and the end of the budget year, which might account for the million dollar shortfall. But Andrews is usually a real stickler on details when it comes to figures. If he meant otherwise, I stand corrected. RW)
The current stats reflect the current tax rate. The City school board has been actively laying off teachers to try and meet its budget amounts. Apparently, it’ll have to find another way to go.

Voter ID Passes Mississippi House & Senate Heads To Committee

Tuesday, the state Senate passed HB 921, legislation requiring voter identification, on a 34-14 vote. Earlier in the session, it passed the House with a 78-40 vote. In both chambers, a bi-partisan majority supported the legislation.
“I applaud the House and Senate for passage of HB 921 and thank Gov. Phil Bryant, Lt. Gov. Reeves, Speaker Philip Gunn and Secretary Hosemann for their leadership on this issue,” Mississippi Republican Party Chairman Joe Nosef stated. “In 2011, 62 percent of voters in Mississippi supported the voter identification ballot initiative spearheaded by the Mississippi Republican Party. For the future of our democratic republic, we must ensure that our elections are accurate and free of voter fraud.”
Sen. David Jordan, D-Greenwood, called the effort “evil” and questioned the Christian values of its legislative backers to which Sen. Gary Jackson, R-French Camp, a supporter of voter ID, vehemently objected.
“It’s wrong,” Jordan said. “I don’t care how you dress it up, put clean clothes on it. It’s Jim Crow.”
The bill is now in the hands of a committee. It’ll still have to gain US Department of Justice approval. Recently, The DOJ, under Democrat President Barack Obama, has struck down similar voter ID legislation coming out of South Carolina.
Sen. Kenneth Wayne Jones, D-Canton, offered a word of caution for supporters of initiatives that limit voting rights.
“We beat you every time. We’re gonna beat you this time,” Jones said.
Leroy Brooks Chosen As Delegate To Democrat National Convention
Lowndes County District 5 Supervisor Leroy Brooks has been chosen as a delegate to the Democrat National Convention. Brooks has been chosen one of 6 that will attend the convention in September representing the Mississippi delegation. The convention will be held in Charlotte, North Carolina the week of September 3rd.

Ron Williams can be reached by email at Ronsings2you@aol.com

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2 comments

  1. Ron, as usual, you’re willing to cover something that others choose to ignore. What I’d like to do is add the total budget numbers to the equation. After all, it’s still all public tax money, no matter where it comes from. I think all taxpayers feel the pain on tax day. So here it is;
    The budgetary money amount quoted here is from information printed by the Commercial Dispatch, which said that the budget the board passed for 2010-2011 was $43.5 million. (source: “It’s official: 68 teachers, staff terminated” – http://www.cdispatch.com/news/article.asp?aid=15897). The student numbers and test scores are quoted from the web site of the Mississippi Department of Education, Office of Research and Statistics (“http://orsap.mde.k12.ms.us/MAARS”).
    According to the MAARS site, the CMSD records for 2010-2011 show 4521 total enrollment in the district, with over half of that total in grades six and under. That means that based on a $43.5 million budget, each student in the CMSD costs taxpayers $9.600. When critics of private education compare dollar figures, to be fair, the totals are what should be compared.
    Where taxpayers are paying for school buses and security guards, parents and donations bear the burden of transportation and expenses at private schools. What people forget is that parents who put their children into private schools, for reasons ranging from curriculum to security, those parents also pay taxes for public school funding. They are not only paying for their personal choice of education for their children, they are also funding the public education system at the same time.
    Parents of children in the public school system should learn to use the MAARS web site. The following records are available for viewing on the site and have been posted on (and immediately deleted from) the Commercial Dispatch web site;
    Columbus High School, Percentage Scoring Proficient or Above, U.S. History (Male: 35%, Female: 29%, Black: 28%, White: 81%), Biology (Male: 36%, Female: 46%, Black: 36%, White: 83%), Algebra I (Male: 60%, Female: 75%, Black: 66%, White: 88), Engl II MC (Male: 48%, Female: 57%, Black: 49%, White: 81%). Gender and race references and percentages are not mine, they are as listed exactly as they are on the MAARS site.
    There is something disturbing about these numbers for an education that costs $9,600 a year.

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