Avoid moving control of schools closer to Columbus

The Times’ editorial of Jan. 4 concerning local control of school districts struck a nerve and brought up some old, bad memories from Pennsylvania.

And it would seem we are in danger of reliving those in Ohio if the state control of schools is moved even further to Columbus.

The bad memory goes like this. “Your buddy Dave’s parents may not be able to stay in their house.” Those were the words from my parents about their retired friends. Dave’s dad was a mechanic, a partner in a small business and a genuinely fine human being. Dave’s mom had been a teacher. Both retired, living on fixed/limited income.

The powers that be that controlled property taxes, in this case, the Westmoreland County Commissioners, set the property tax rate based on their best judgment of the needs of the local schools.

The voters had little to no input on the decision. The impact on the taxpayers could be devastating leading to losing one’s house or other forced budgetary decisions.

Needless to say this writer is strongly opposed to yet more centralized control of both finances and operations of local schools. What makes any legislator in Columbus think he/she knows better the needs of students in New Matamoras? Locally elected officials excepted. But another reminder needs to be stated.

Legislators in Columbus are, and for two decades more or less, have been, under State Supreme Court orders to more equitably distribute the huge amount of funds already collected by the state and re-distributed among school districts. They have failed to heed those orders.

At the same time, The Supreme Court has not pushed the issue. Districts with large numbers of voters get more money per student than districts with fewer voters.

This, unlike the Supreme Court of Texas who chose to put teeth in their very similar order by threatening the legislators with incarceration (putting them in jail) until the orders were followed.

That action lead to many of the legislators packing razors and tooth brushes and jumping the state line until they got tired of living away from home and did their duty. Perhaps it is time at last to comply with the orders.

Jack Moberg