OR CAFÉ did an excellent job of highlighting how excellent our schools are in their recurrent spot in the Oak Ridger last week. However, I fail to see how this meets their goal of promoting informed decisions by citizens and city leaders. Surely they are not crediting money over parent, teacher, and student efforts for the accomplishments they listed.
The unanswered questions remain:
How have the schools spent their (our) money and how do they plan to spend it in the future (specifically, please)?
Has the City Council provided ORSD with the more than, less than or the exact amount of funds they told them they would since enacting their strategic plan 4 years ago?
Have these funds allowed for growth equal to, less than, or greater than the national cost of living index?
Have these funds been in line with, above, or below the Consumer Price Index?
Last week, Tennesseans (including myself) overwhelmingly passed the referendum for property tax relief for the elderly. Those funds will have to be recouped and history dictates that those of us under 65 will have to make up the difference. I bring this up because I recognize that this law of cause and effect will undoubtedly apply if City Council concedes to ORSD demands. If raising taxes is a necessary evil to retain our standards in education, then perhaps that is the price we must pay. But how and when will we know how much is enough? According to the TN Department of Education, ORSD tops all of the states’ 136 other school districts in operating expenditures per student at $9943. How much higher does that figure need to be and to what end? And with roughly 650 employees, our students benefit from a ratio of one employee to every 6.5 students. How much lower does that ratio need to be?
OR CAFÉ has encouraged citizens to submit them questions so that they could research and supply answers to the public. I continue to patiently await their response to today’s questions as well as the ones I posed last week.