Arguments being made for, against bond issue

Published 12:21 am Sunday, April 30, 2017

In just more than three weeks, county voters will determine the future of the public school district’s buildings as the district seeks approval to borrow $35 million for a district-wide building renovation project.

Clearly, the district needs new buildings — few citizens would argue that point.

What is arguable, however, is the timing and scope of the project.

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Critics of the plan ask why should taxpayers fork out more money to improve facilities for the failing district? Should not the district improve scores first, before asking for more money?

School officials counter with two arguments. First, at least one study from several years ago showed a correlation between new school building and improved test scores. Logically, district officials say, new schools then should improve scores. The study’s author, however, also pointed out that having involved parents and gifted teachers was also a big factor to consider.

The second argument is the poor state of the district’s building requires quick action in order to help the district recruit new teachers to work here. That argument makes sense.

Critics also argue the timing is bad for Natchez. Seeking a substantial tax increase when the local economy is already down doesn’t seem wise. Further, critics say, the move may backfire if more taxes cause some businesses to layoff workers or close the doors entirely. In those scenarios, even fewer people would then be paying the taxes necessary to pay the bond.

Those critics suggest simply waiting until the economy improves and jobs are more abundant before asking for more tax money.

Over the next few weeks, we plan to help provide information to help voters make an informed choice on May 23.