, Port Arthur, Texas

September 18, 2012

Vote for Tax Ratification in PAISD

Mary Jean George
The Port Arthur News

PORT ARTHUR — I write to ask you to vote FOR the Tax Ratification at the special election on September 25th.  

The PAISD is making progress on all fronts, including academic performance, facilities and professionalism.  To continue this progress we must provide the necessary resources.  Teachers must be paid, including periodic raises, because it is the right thing to do and to be competitive with neighboring districts. We have completely replaced or renovated all of our facilities and we thank the voters for their support in that endeavor.  Facilities are now state of the art, but will not remain so without constant maintenance.  Our bus fleet is aging and some replacements must be made for safety.  Costs for many necessary items such as utilities, insurance and fuel go up.

In the last session of the legislature the decision was made to decrease school funding rather than raise state taxes.  The PAISD lost four million dollars last year and another million this, so that our state funding is decreased by five million this year.  Federal funds are down by one and a half million dollars.  The thirteen cent tax increase that the citizens of our community are asked to ratify on September 25 will replace part of that decreased revenue.  Without this money we are looking at increased class sizes, a  smaller choice of electives, postponement of needed maintenance and an ever aging bus fleet as well as unlikely pay increases for our hardworking staff.

The district has already made many cuts, including eliminating fifteen administrative positions.

While no one likes to increase taxes, this is an investment in our community’s future.  The cost for nearly all homeowners will be only pennies a day and the rewards are immeasurable.  Those persons over the age of 65 will have no increase as their taxes are frozen.

This is not another bond program.  The bonds were (and must be) used for the construction projects.  That work is finished and was at or under budget.  Those monies by law cannot be used for salaries or other ordinary expenses.  Similarly, the monies raised by the tax that is to be ratified will not be used for construction projects.

Early voting is from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through September 21st, and is located at the Port Arthur Public Library and at City Hall. (To vote on Election Day, September 25th, please check where your precinct votes as some locations have changed.)

 I hope that you will vote FOR the tax ratification, vote FOR our children and vote FOR the future of our community.

Mary Jean George

Port Arthur