Thursday, May 04, 2006

Akron School Levy: Pay Anyway

My friends Brant and Marie, who are much gentler souls than I, have a wonderful idea for channeling their disappointment over the defeat of the school levy. I'll let them explain, then add some points.

In our house, we've decided not to be depressed about the failure of the Akron school levy, Issue 1. We've decided to pay anyway. We are making a donation to the Akron Public Schools in the amount that we would have paid had the levy passed.

The way we figure it, we voted for a tax that we would have had to pay, and the schools need the money whether it comes in the form of tax collections or donations. A donation will be tax deductible, so the tax consequences are the same. We will be in the same position financially as if the levy had passed.

As to the objection that this isn't fair because the family down the block won't be paying their share, we've decided not to care about that. To us, part of the reason we're in this mess is that we have all become too concerned with looking out only for ourselves, for our own children and our own pocketbooks. That's also why we've chosen not to just direct all our giving to the school our child goes to, or to give less because one of our kids goes to a private preschool. For us, the point is to help the Akron Public Schools, not just our own child.

If you would like to do likewise, the Akron Public School District has a form you have to fill out to make a donation--it is available online here.

You can calculate how much tax you would have paid if the levy had passed by using the following formula:

[Market Value of your home] x 35% = Taxable Value
Taxable Value x .0079 x 87.5% = Amount to Donate

As we understand it from talking on the phone to the District Treasurer's office, the .0079 is the millage (7.9/1000), and the 87.5% reflects a credit for payments from the State.

We are writing our check and sending it in. If you are planning to do likewise, it might be fun to keep track of it by sending an email to lawprofsr[at]gmail[dot]com. Also, if you like this idea, please forward this along to others who might be interested.
I can hear the Anonymice tuning up now. "It won't help. You can't raise enough that way. It will be counterproductive."

The last point first. I do worry that some people will say that this is such a great idea that we should only fund schools through private donations. I expect some will make this argument, but that they will prove to be the sorts of asshats that stretch anything into a reason to oppose a levy. And on the other hand, we may be able to put together a list next year of people who are showing their support for the schools in more than word.

As to the first two points, true enough. If this really catches fire, if everyone emails it around, if people talk about it and get excited about it -- if we get 200 donors, that would be huge. And 200 donors at $250 per would raise $50,000. That would be enough to save maybe one teacher.

That’s not the point.

The point for me is that this is a viable Plan C. Plan A was visiting the guy on Rhodes who posts a homemade “Vote No” sign every levy campaign and beating him into a coma. Plan B was renting a sound truck and driving the streets of Ellet and Kenmore, reminding the residents what a bunch of mouth-breathing, knuckle-dragging, redneck morons they are. After reflection, each of these has the potential to be truly counterproductive.

So Prof. W. and I have voted to raise the millage on our own home. If you feel similarly compelled, drop a comment or an email so we can keep track of it.


kj said...

We are in, from the West Side. My oldest daughter will be starting kindergarten in the Fall; 2 more a few years back. Those 600+ votes made me sick to my stomach.

Good blog.


Jon said...

While I admire the intent, I'm skeptical the approach would do much god. Because such a tiny proportion of the population will do this, the plight of the schools will be barely affected. My Yes vote was conditional on the tax being my fair share. A better use of everyone’s “tax” money would be to support candidates for the Ohio legislature in swing districts, i.e. where a few thousand extra campaign dollars could make a difference between getting a Republican and Democrat sent to Columbus. Now THAT I could get behind

Penultimatina said...

A was visiting the guy on Rhodes who posts a homemade “Vote No” sign every levy campaign and beating him into a coma.

Okay, so THAT is what that sign was about.

Next time I'll sneak over there with some gigantic stickers, like two question marks: Vote? No? or maybe just a big W (since we have no need for W in our house): Vote NoW.

TKE House said...

Actually, the problem that I see with this proposal is that if you take it to its logical end, you wind up with a private school. In the public school model, education is provided to the public at the public's expense. The revenue to offset these expenses is collected in the form of taxes.

What is being proposed is to privatize the collection of the revenue to operate the schools. In essence, you are talking about the creation of an educational cooperative. It is an intriguing concept, but do you think it has legs?

Anonymous said...

You could also donate that money to the next levy campaign.

I did that for D candidates when that ridiculous $75 refund came out a few years back.

fansnote said...

As we've all seen, people vote against their self-interest all the time. Bad schools = flight from district = lower market price for your home. Many voters, if not most, are immune to facts, figures, and rationalized reasoning.

The APS levy campaign recognized this, and in my opinion did a pretty good job of framing issues in terms of values; in fact a little patriotism; "Education: It's the American Way..", and fear; "Vote for Issue 1 Before It's Too Late"

Unfortunately, a perception continues to exist that paints the APS as profligate, and reckless with taxpayer money. When pressed to give specifics, a "vote no" taxpayer mouth opens like a dumb slot and perhaps a mumbled story ensues about teachers only working 9 months a year, etc. etc.

What to do in the face of seemingly unrelenting obtuseness? In terms of singling out the proud communities of Ellet and Kenmore, an appeal to pride and exclusivity may need to be employed.

It appears that several schools may rightfully have to be closed. Any such early list of candidates should include one or more middle/high schools from the Ellet and Kenmore clusters. No longer will their children be able to attend their neighborhood school, it's off to some other "rancid cluster warehouse school".

There are real costs to choosing not to fund your schools, and if the Kenmore and Ellet communities prefer that their children be educated in another Akron location, well your "cost" for that is $20 bucks a month in your pocket.

KAM said...

Definitely, cuts should be made in Ellet and Kenmore first and foremost. Schools should be closed and buses should stop running. Then those parents and grandparents will have to spend way more than 20 bucks/month on gas just to transport their kids to a school in another cluster. I feel sorry for any parent in Ellet and Kenmore who did vote for the levy. If I were them, I'd seriously be looking to relocate.