Renewal critical for community

Published 6:00 pm Thursday, May 27, 2010

June 1 marks an important day for the future of Butler County.

As voters head to the polls for the Democratic and Republican primaries, they’ll also be faced with a decision on the renewal of Butler County’s ad valorem school tax.

Selection of political candidates to grace the November ballot is clearly an important step in shaping the direction of our community. But when it comes to direct local impact, no other ballot item shares the potential magnitude of the ad valorem tax renewal.

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The importance of public school funding is obvious to those with children or grandchildren in the system. A tangible reminder is tucked in each night, bounced on a knee, dropped off in the carpool line.

Perhaps a little less conspicuous, the issue nonetheless remains vital to all other residents of Butler County. The quality of life in our community is directly proportional to the quality of education afforded our young people.

Better-educated kids means better future citizens, workers and neighbors.

There are strong economic implications as well. Simply put, good public education is good for business. That means a stronger local marketplace and more jobs, which translates into better local opportunities and services.

There’s a reason new superintendent Darren Douthitt has sought out potential opposition to the tax renewal [offering in-home visits to explain its necessity]: the funding provided is a lifeline to Butler County Schools. To cut it would be devastating.

In collecting the required millage, the state provides $15.1 million in funding for education in Butler County. That’s equivalent to half of the total budget for our schools.

Some years ago, Butler County voters overlooked the importance of voting to renew the school tax. A subsequent election to continue the tax was required, tying up local resources and costing taxpayers thousands of dollars.

Let’s not make the same mistake this time around.