Letters to the Editor
We support school tax
Editor, The Sun:
Living in Woodford County is a blessing and one we don’t take for granted. The picturesque scenery, small town feel and outstanding school system are qualities that make our community a special place to live and raise a family. As citizens of Woodford County, it is our responsibility to preserve and maintain these assets for future generations.
Currently, our community is facing a facilities tax to build a new high school. As a collective group, we stand united behind our Board of Education’s decision to pass the nickel (5.5 cents) tax and feel strongly it is the right decision for Woodford County. We are thankful for the education our children received in the Woodford County School District and are indebted to all those who made it possible. Now, it is our turn to give back to ensure current and future students are afforded the same or even greater learning opportunities.
Some may think our current high school is adequate and a new facility is not a pressing need. Quite simply, this is not true. The science labs are outdated, there is a lack of space for the performing arts, and the current building is not conducive to 21st-century learning.
Additionally, there is a need for technical programs to prepare students for high wage jobs in our community upon graduation. If a new school is built, the current high school will be utilized for such a purpose. The time is now. If we fail to act, thousands of students will miss the experiences afforded by a new high school.
It’s not hard to see a new high school is needed. Recently, a report titled, “First Impressions” written by an outside group contracted through our Chamber of Commerce conducted a study of all aspects of Woodford County. Their report noted “the high school looks like it needs improvement. There is a bit contrast between the level of care in the community and the appearance of the high school.” Even outsiders can see a new high school is needed and will make Woodford County more attractive to families and businesses looking to relocate. Our entire community will benefit from a new high school.
In closing, we hope you will join us in voting FOR the facilities tax … on June 26.
Pam and Barry Settles
Bill and Anne Hoskins
Ken and Nancy Kerkhoff
Glen and Donna Kelly
Gary and Mary Lee Gillis
Vote ‘FOR’ school tax
Editor, The Sun:
Next Tuesday we will cast a vote to either approve or reject funding for a new high school. My vote will be cast in favor of the funding.
It’s not that I love paying more taxes. It’s not that I have any family members that will benefit from a new high school. It’s not that I will get any financial gain from the construction of a new school. It’s not that I’m particularly happy with the process that led us to this point.
What is clear to me is that a new high school is needed and that our county will be enriched with a school built to the specifications necessary to educate our future high school students.
It was suggested to me early on in my life that when I had a chance to leave my little corner of the world better off than when I found it, I should take that opportunity. This is one of those opportunities.
Not in the ‘60s anymore
Editor, The Sun:
I still remember the August day in 1964 when my classmates and I started our senior year in the brand-new Woodford County High School.
The fresh new facility had up-to-date science labs, a spacious gym, and about anything a public school needed in the 1960s. I am honored to be part of the first class to graduate from that facility. But we are not in the ‘60s anymore. This is 2018.
In the more than 50 years since that facility was opened, at least two renovations occurred. The last major renovation took place in the late 1990s. Much has changed in the world of secondary education in those years. Technology, teaching techniques, and facility needs have all gone through drastic changes. I think our students need and deserve a new state of the art facility for their education.
In this past session of the Kentucky General Assembly, the teachers across the state were treated miserably. The politicians in Frankfort have ensured that it will become more difficult to attract people to the teaching profession. The teachers who do enter the profession will want to be in a community that respects education and one that has the best school facilities. If we want to provide the best education possible for our students, it will be necessary to have the best teachers and facilities.
If Woodford County wants to maintain existing businesses and attract new employers, we need to have a first-class education system. We have the teachers and administration to make that possible, we have the elementary schools and middle school to compete with anyone, but we don’t have a high school facility that stands up to the competition.
While I have a great deal of respect for people on both sides of the issue of increasing the school tax, I’m asking the voters of Woodford County to vote yes on June 26 to keep our community at the forefront of education in Kentucky by building a new high school.
Carl P. Rollins II
Support school tax
Editor, The Sun
Bear with me as I work through what I’m sure some will say is a bad analogy. Youth sports are big here in Woodford County so I’ll go with that...
Your daughter wants to run track but doesn’t have a pair of running shoes. She’s so determined to compete that she runs in sandals.
Amazingly she does really well. She’s the fastest on the team, the region and goes to the state championship meet. She finishes in the top 10 in her events... in sandals!
Next season is quickly approaching. She asks you for some running shoes. What’s your response? Are you going to say, “You were in the top 10 running in sandals, why do you need running shoes?”
“But, parental unit, I could run faster if I had running shoes, I could be better.”
“You were top 10 honey, that’s good enough, no need to be better.”
“But I could be better, faster, maybe even get a scholarship for college.”
“You’ll probably get a scholarship with your current times, no need to be better, faster.”
“But I could get more scholarship offers from more and better schools.”
“You’re fine, just run in your sandals.”
Or would you say, “I support you and your desire to improve, if you need running shoes I’ll get you running shoes.”
I know I took some liberties, but this is what comes to mind when I hear “the old high school is good enough, look at their ranking.”
Should we be content with the status quo or should we want the best for our students and community?
A new building would offer much greater opportunities for academics and the performing arts. It would also be much safer, something that seems to get overlooked. Do we say “nothing terrible has happened, so the old school must be ok” or do we want a safer environment for our students to learn in?
Apparently, some think appealing to emotions gets a thumbs down. Shouldn’t we be emotional when it comes to the education and safety of our youth? I say emotions are good as long it doesn’t distract you from the facts. The fact is a new high school will have superior spaces for the performing arts, for STEAM studies and will be much safer all the while. Those are facts that can’t be argued.
I’ll buy my daughter some running shoes ... how about you?
Don’t let debt fears cloud your vote
Editor, The Sun:
In response to the recent articles and statements in the Woodford Sun regarding the additional debt service required to fund a new high school, I offer the following business perspective:
Leverage ratio refers to the amount of debt divided by equity for a given business entity. Depending on the market, it is not uncommon for businesses to operate with a high leverage ratio (where the amount of debt nearly equals equity). For some markets, “equity” is estimated by the actual value of physical assets or, in other business sectors, it’s approximated by various “rules of thumb” such as by calculating 1X annual revenue.
Assuming the high school is built, the worst case leverage ratio would occur in three years near the end of construction prior to the school being built and considered a finished “asset.” Using either of the approximations described above, the value of actual land and building assets (w/o depreciation) for the Board is currently $60 million while 1X annual revenue is equal to $62 million (so let’s assume equity = $60 million, three years from now). The amount of debt near the end of construction will equal the current debt – three years of payments + new debt on the high school construction. The amount of total debt in three years using this approximation would be: ($26 million - $8 million + $45 million) or about $63 million. The leverage ratio just prior to the high school completion would be about 1.1 ($63 million/$60 million). Once the building is completed and occupied as an “asset,” assuming it’s appraised at the construction cost ($45 million), the leverage ratio improves to 0.6 ($63 million/$105 million).
Businesses similar in size (to the Board’s annual revenue) routinely leverage themselves at or above 1.0. Unlike the public sector, this private debt is incurred with significant risks to sustaining annual revenue including: increased competition, changes in market conditions, regulatory changes, etc. From the Board’s perspective, there is little if any risk of declining property values and revenue reduction over the course of the loan.
I urge all Woodford Countians to vote on June 26, but please don’t allow fear of the potential debt service to influence your decision.
Similar-sized corporations navigate much higher leverage ratios with significantly higher risk routinely in the course of everyday business.
Robert H. Williams
School board: Vote ‘For’ facility tax
Editor, The Sun:
As we near the vote for a facility tax that will make a new high school possible, we want to express our gratitude to all those, for and against, who have attended our forums, emailed us, and called us, in order to better educate themselves on this important decision. We also want to thank all of those who have invested the last months advocating for a new high school.
After next Tuesday, we will know if a new high school is in our near future or if the current high school will be home to our students for at least another decade. If the vote is for a facility tax, the process to design and build a new school will begin immediately. Estimated timeline for completion and occupancy of the school is three years.
If the facility tax is defeated, we will have to develop a plan to update the current school. Due to space limitations and the configuration of the school, it is highly unlikely that any new programming such as enhanced fine arts spaces, culinary programs, up-to-date science labs, and agricultural programs could be added.
If the tax passes, the current school would be used for central office, technical pathway programs, adult education, and an expansion of Safe Harbor.
In today’s world, our students must have exposure to and experience with collaborative learning, current STEAM facilities and equipment, and new technologies to be ready for and successful in college. Many students will choose to begin a career immediately upon graduation.
With the proper facilities and instruction, high schools can prepare them to be work ready in manufacturing, medical or other fields. The students of Woodford County deserve these opportunities and advantages that the new high school would give them.
For these reasons and more, we respectfully ask that you vote to better the future of our students and our community by voting FOR on June 26.
If you have questions, please visit www.woodfordschools.org, www.facebook.com/isupportourschools, or contact one of us directly.
Ambrose Wilson IV
Editor, The Sun:
It is time. Time to move Woodford County forward. Time to stop stifling progress. Time to build a school on the land purchased under the leadership of former Superintendent Paul Stahler (who is now against a new high school). Time to provide future students and teachers with a new, safe and modern school. Time to not only prepare students for college, but to prepare them for technical industries (such as welding, engineering, technology, etc). Time to provide adequate and proper facilities for student athletes and performing arts students (the band room and weight room currently flood and theater students perform in a cafeteria).
As the old saying goes, “It’s time to stop kicking the can down the road.” It’s time to be responsible citizens, wise adults and vote “YES” for a new high school, a valuable asset to our community. It’s time to tell the students of Woodford County they are worth it.
WCHS Class of 2012
Spending tax dollars to raise taxes
Editor, The Sun:
There seems to be a lot of confusion about the amount of money that it will cost the taxpayer to conduct a special election for the Facilities Tax.
The fact is that we now have a definitive estimate of the cost to conduct the special election of $75,250. This estimate has been provided to both sides of the issue by the Woodford County government. In addition to this cost to the taxpayer, there are the legal fees paid by the Woodford County Board of Education (WCBE) of $8,504 (and counting) for special legal advice. The WCBE also allocated $5,000 to fund the “FOR” campaign, primarily in the form of yard signs. Moreover, $1,100 of the WCBE communications budget was spent on brochures to support the need for a tax to build a new high school. This is all taxpayer dollars.
Do you see the irony in this? The WCBE is spending taxpayer money ($89,000-plus) to raise our taxes. In the final analysis, we, the taxpayers, are funding their campaign to raise our taxes.
Paul B. Stahler
Whose wasteful spending?
Editor, The Sun:
I am a Woodford county resident and business owner, and I have some concerns regarding the upcoming special election for the nickel tax and the subsequent construction of a new high school. After reviewing some of the comments made by people who are in opposition of the tax, one of their primary complaints is wasteful spending by the Board of Education, specifically the amount of money needed for the special election on June 26 to decide whether or not to enact the tax. Ironically, it should be noted that this special election wouldn’t be taking place at all had the opposition not pursued a petition signing against the tax; a tax, mind you, that is a normal tax passed by many Boards of Education to build new schools. However, here we are due to a petition spearheaded by this opposition and their subsequent hypocrisy when they complain about costs that they, themselves, have created.
Here is where my concern lies: the original estimate provided to the Board of Education for the special election was approximately $50,000. In a matter of months, the estimated cost for the election has risen to more than $75,000, a new estimate provided by Judge Executive John Coyle, an outward opponent of the new tax. When you look at recent primary elections in Woodford County, or other special elections held in other counties, this new estimate is substantially higher than expected, with no explanation as to why.
Upon talking to my magistrate, I was told this was only an estimate, but no reason was given for the drastic increase in cost, other than this was a budget year, and any possible cost increases needed to be considered. The primary election that just took place had a total expenditure of $43,324. Special elections need the exact same amount of voting machines, delivery of those machines, and people needed to work the polls. Even if you figure in a 10 percent increase due to some unforeseen expense, that still only leaves a total cost of approximately $47,656; a number that is still below the original $50,000 that was provided to the Board. I would love an honest answer as to why the estimate from Judge Coyle is ridiculously inflated, and hope that those numbers weren’t thrown out there in an attempt to inaccurately place fiscal irresponsibility at the feet of the Board of Education.
Critical of schools budgeting
Editor, The Sun:
I see that the Woodford County School Board is taking another trip to “The Bakery.” Yes, you read this correctly – the bakery owned by the tax-paying citizens of this county. If you have ever looked at a pie chart of where our taxes go, the school board appropriates the biggest chunk of the pie, by far.
I do not mind paying my share of the taxes, but I have to budget the heck out of my income to make sure I can pay my taxes in a timely manner.
Most find that every year the budget must be scrutinized more carefully. Unlike the school board, I do not have a bakery to go to. I must depend on our Social Security system to give me a raise. For several years, these was no increase at all. This year my raise was a whopping nine dollars a month. I tried to protest, but Social Security would not budge.
My suggestion to the board: Take the money earmarked for the Special Election and have Dave Ramsey come to town and present his wonderful ideas on budgeting and staying out of debt. How long have we known that we needed a new high school? Has there been any contingency set aside to do this?
This brings up the subject of repairs and maintenance. This is a big part of my budget plan - it has to be since it is my largest expense and investment. Our board puts this off until a crisis is reached where something has to be done. A prime example of this is the old middle school. The mold in the basement did not appear overnight. An early remedy was bypassed in favor of a study to see how much the mold could multiply on a yearly basis. Part of the history of this county is now sitting in landfills. When I drove by that Sunday, my heart broke to see the first swings of the crane.
If and when the new school is built, I hope a competent construction manager will be onsite so we do not encounter the problems we did at the new middle school and the renovation of Simmons.
In conclusion, I believe this tax increase would have been more palatable if a designated time frame had been used.
Marjorie G. Evans