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School board’s priorities need to be examined

Put focus on education, not a new building

Speaking as a former Dixon School Board member, I ask the Dixon community to give serious thought when going to the polls in November and voting on the proposed sales tax referendum, which consists of a 1-percentage-point sales tax increase.

The main purpose of this sales tax increase is to fund the construction of a multipurpose building for the use of sports, drama and fine arts. The estimated price tag is about $10 million to $15 million.

Shouldn’t the priority of a school board be giving each and every student the best possible educational opportunities it can provide? All we have been reading about in the newspaper the last couple of months is about a new multipurpose building (initially referred to as a sports complex).

A year ago, the board didn’t feel it was necessary to vote against the 12-year extension of one of Dixon’s TIF districts, which resulted in an approximate loss of nearly $1 million in property tax revenue over the 12-year period. This money alone could have helped tremendously in many areas of one-time expenses, such as teaching supplies that, many times, are purchased by staff members themselves, or something as simple as copy paper that is currently being rationed.

In an Aug. 16 article, Dixon’s superintendent stated that the district saved $300,000 in salaries this year by not rehiring to fill the positions left by five retirements. But at whose expense? The students and teaching staff, of course!

In my opinion, staff reduction has taken its toll in many areas. After several years of students being on a modified classroom rotation schedule, fifth grade was once again put back to being self-contained – putting an extra burden on teaching staff who haven’t taught certain subjects for many years.

Parents should seriously be concerned about increased class sizes because of staff reduction. They should also be questioning how a teacher can realistically teach such large classrooms with the mainstreaming of special ed students and do justice to the education of both the regular and special ed students.

Maybe the school board should make giving our students and the teaching staff better conditions for educational purposes its priority instead of building a new multipurpose facility.

Also, Dixon is still trying to heal from the alleged misappropriation of $53 million of city funds by our former city comptroller. Do senior citizens living on a fixed income, unemployed citizens, etc., really need the burden of a sales tax increase, which will never be rescinded once it is instituted?

When people go to the polls in November, I hope every voting citizen thinks seriously about where the priorities of the school board lie. Are they in providing the best quality of education for our students, or in the construction of a new multipurpose building?

Are they considering the impact the sales tax increase will have on all the citizens in this community?

The decision lies in the hands of the people of this community.

Note to readers – Carolyn Brechon served on the Dixon School Board from 2003 to 2011.

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