Making tax investment in the community
PRESCOTT--As the Prescott community explores options for addressing the space needs of the Prescott School District, we often hear a number of perceptions about the recommendations.
In order to fully address the needs in the district--and the entire community--we need to make sure we sort out fact from fiction. My goal over the next couple of weeks is to respond to some of the comments that are surfacing with the facts:
Fiction--Prescott taxes have been increasing every year for as long as I remember. The taxpayers carry the burden, but receive no benefits.
Fact--The truth is an investment in strong schools is an investment is a strong community.
There is a great benefit to developing facilities fostering strong academic programs, team-oriented sports opportunities and enriching extra-curricular offerings. Jana J. Madsen, managing editor at Buildings magazine states, "High-performance schools serve as the ideal location for neighborhood meetings, gatherings and events. They can bring together groups of people for numerous functions. This is important because it integrates the school into the community and, conversely, involves the community with the school. The building becomes more than a school--it's a community center as well."
The Prescott School Board is committed to providing solutions based on community input that will provide a high-performance school. In terms of taxes, the school portion of property taxes actually does not reflect continual increases. In a tax levy comparison over the past four years, there has been an overall decline in the tax levy of -3.3 percent. That decline happened even with the renewal and expansion of the levy cap override in 2013.
Prescott also has the lowest building debt expenditure per student of any school district in the area, with a cost of $658 per student compared to ranges of $818 in Hudson to $1,604 in New Richmond. Creating a solution including the entire community and is fiscally responsible is important to everyone in the district.
The facilities committee recommended an option to provide space for multi-generational learning at all ages, while addressing the immediate and future space requirements for educating our students. By building a new high school, facilities for community use can be included and grades can be reallocated between the existing buildings to provide the space needed for a continued quality education in Prescott now and in the future.
As our community moves forward in considering options for our school space needs, we all need to dispel the myths and seek honest and well-planned solutions based on facts. In the coming months, there will be opportunities for community input and questions. We hope you will join the conversation.
Please take time to seek answers to your questions and provide the input needed to make any solution a true community effort. Information about the recommendation can be found on the school website at www.prescott.k12.wi.us.
Roger Hulne is the Prescott School Superintendent.