New Rothsay School ill-advised and costlyPublished 9:33am Friday, March 7, 2014 Updated 11:42am Friday, March 7, 2014
I believe in paying for a good education for our children.
However, I agree with a sizeable group of landowners who think the vote to build a new school in Rothsay, was promoted with false and inadequate information and that this new, costly building is not the only reasonable choice for the district.
The school levy vote was a huge decision that required only a simple majority vote and passed by merely 33 votes.
It placed approximately 80 percent of the cost of the new $19.4 million school on the shoulders of agricultural landowners.
Only about 150 of the district’s 170 children K-12 attend Rothsay’s school. Open enrollment brings the student body to about 260.
It seems unjust to require district landowners to shoulder the cost of a new facility based on open enrollment speculations.
It also seems illogical to spend $34 million ($19.4 million plus interest) when redistricting or school consolidation in the region could offer Rothsay’s remaining 150 students broader curriculum opportunities.
Currently these students are limited to only basic core classes.
There is minimal business or industry in Rothsay to attract the school board’s projected 10 percent annual student population growth. More likely, K-12 enrollment will decrease.
If the district closes, taxpayers will still pay the $34 million for 30 years.
I own less than two quarters of farmland in the Rothsay school district.
It appears I will be taxed in excess of $132,000 over the next 30 years just for the new building.
As a non-homestead landowner, I had no vote in this matter.
Pre-vote publicity for the new school erroneously predicted taxes on agricultural land would increase $156 annually per $100,000 of land value.
However, the new building levy added $439 per $100,000 to my taxes.
This year my total farmland property taxes rose 88.8 percent largely due to this new school levy.
However, I do not feel I can raise my rent to cover my total tax increase when I see grain prices drop as they have.
Since the vote, multiple promotion statements have been documented as false. Is there no recourse when a vote was promoted with inaccurate and inadequate information?
I would venture that if a vote were retaken today, with all the information now disclosed, that the levy would not pass.
Agricultural land owners are being unjustly required to carry the major tax burden of this expensive school building for a very small student population in Rothsay.