Opinions

Opinions

It is the intent of this publication to provide a source of news and information that is factual and without bias. We will not opinionate news articles. We have an opinions column as a forum for readers and the staff of WinnsboroToday.com to express opinions. The opinions expressed in this section are not neccessarily supported by the staff of WinnsboroToday.com.

Tax Protest
Comments From a Concerned Citizen
An American’s Opinion on Immigrants
School on Memorial Day?
TCCA Information
Thoughts on the value of the Parent Teacher Organization

Tax Protest

Dear Sir,

Once again the Winnsboro News has misrepresented the facts. In the past I have made it a point of principle not to respond to Mr. Pendergast’s questionable methods of “reporting news.” However, in this case I feel it is important to set the issue straight concerning the public hearing on the school budget and tax rate on August 19. In the August 22, 2002 edition of his paper, Mr. Pendergast indicated that three members of the audience (Willie Kay Paredez, Grace Pressley and I) asked questions of the school board and that “none of them” publicly opposed the budget or tax rate. I want to clarify this: I certainly did and do oppose the tax rate the board unanimously approved.

This rate is being presented as a “tax decrease” by the school administration and the local paper, while the budget is presented as “very conservative.” It all depends on how you use the figures, doesn’t it? Last year’s total tax rate was $1.50. This amount was broken into two parts: the Interest & Sinking (I & S) amount, which is used to pay bond indebtedness; and the Maintenance and Operation (M & 0) amount, which pays our teachers, operations expenses and facilities maintenance. Last year, during the bond elections brought to our community, the superintendent’s promotional brochure (printed and mailed with our tax dollars-undoubtedly the M & 0 funds) indicated we had 10 cents dedicated to I & S. This left $1.40 of last year’s tax rate for M & 0. Now that the building debts are paid off, the board is essentially rolling over 8 cents of taxpayer money that had been dedicated for I & S into the M & 0 amount. Therefore, even though it is presented as a 2 cent decrease, it really is a 5.5 tax increase. This is legal, believe it or not! You would think that when the voters decided 20 years ago to have their taxes increased, they would have counted on receiving tax relief when they made the last payment. Instead, the school budget is absorbing it into the operating amount and at the same time telling us we have a “tax cut.” They must certainly have learned “government-speak” from the experts in Washington!

My opposition to this is based on a general mistrust of taxing entities. It is not the “nature of the beast” to do with less. Rather, when an entity has the power to establish its own budget and also the taxing authority to “collect” from its citizens, there is little incentive to trim and exercise restraint. The opposite is true: they become dependent on the new amount and build “bigger and better” programs and then the cry is, “More! More!” If you think this is not happening in Winnsboro, think again. The figures gathered from past tax rolls and The Winnsboro News) show otherwise:

* The tax rate in 1997 was $1.24 compared with the rate in 2001 of $1 .50. This is an increase of 21% over 4 years. (For a real eye-opener, the tax rate in 1991 was $1.05. Compared to the 2001 rate, this is a 43% increase!)
* The adjusted tax base for 1997 was a little over $179 million dollars That same base for 2001 was over $256 million. This is an increase of 43% over 4 years.
* The number of properties taxed in 1997 was 10,400. This increased to 10,604 for 2001. This is a 2% increase over 4 years.
* In 1996, the “refined” Average Daily Attendance for WISD was 1,334. In 2000 that amount was 1,297. This is a decrease in enrollment of 3 over 4 years. (Contrary to what was told the community during the bond elections, our student population is not increasing. Admittedly we do have a larger 9th grade class but this is unusual and cost effective accommodations can definitely be made.)

Essentially, our tax appraisals and tax rates have risen dramatically while the number of households supporting this increase have remained approximately the same. This has occurred at the same time the school population has actually decreased. Obviously, the school budget is siphoning an exorbitant amount of money from our local economy. In speaking with the superintendent and board I showed these statistics and strongly asked them to reconsider the rate of taxation. I also asked if they had any intentions of setting any money aside to build the fund balance up that they have depleted. Mr. Bosold indicated there were no plans to do so but they would “save some if they could.” It seems more and more of the local economy is used to build up this tremendous empire and there is less and less accountability and little incentive to be as prudent and financially conservative as possible.

It is becoming increasingly obvious that there is little desire on the part of school officials for the average citizen to participate in the “educators’ business.” This is clear from what the assistant superintendent/curriculum director told Grace Pressley immediately the meeting was over. After verbally harassing Mrs. Pressley, she actually told her, “You don’t belong here!” More and more we see the citizens are being closed out of the school business. It is time for this to change.

Again, I want to make my position perfectly clear: I did and continue to oppose the 8 cent tax increase put on us by our school trustees and superintendent. I see this is as primarily a property rights issue-not a school issue. As homeschoolers, we have been fairly content to leave the school issues to itself. However, when the bond proposal(s) were brought before the community and the accompanying information included distortions of both rationale and facts, we felt it our civic duty to become involved-whatever the cost. Be assured that if it were a different taxing entity doing this same thing, they would be the ones I would take issue with.

Sincerely,
Debbie Jared

COMMENTS FROM A CONCERNED CITIZEN

8/15/02

Dear Editor, and Winnsboro area residents:

WE STAND BY OUR COMPLAINTS!

Although this is personally painful, I feel that I MUST reflect on our complaints of unethical and illegal conduct by the W.I.S.D. Board of Trustees, Jerry Murphy, President, and their hired hand, Superintendent Mark Bosold. A wise old preacher once said: ” How are you to know about something BAD, if I don’t tell you about it?” The local newspaper, The Winnsboro News, and its editor: Mr. Tom Pendergast; are unabashedly PRO-BOND. They surely won’t tell you.

Tom thinks that anyone, opposed to unethical or unreasonable behavior by the WISD or it’s Superintendent, is just a TROUBLEMAKER! He will twist the news at every chance he gets, to support the WISD, and defame honest concerned citizens, who DARE voice a contrary opinion or offer a different solution to community problems.

The Board and their employee most assuredly did ADVOCATE passage of the HS BOND election, TWICE, with a string of illegally financed, printed, placed, and mailed PRO-BOND literature and “student newsletter”.

The Ethics Committee CHOSE NOT TO CONFRONT the issue or BUCK an established public institution, our School Board. Our complaints were NOT RESOLVED, nor was the Board “vindicated”. By a clever technicality, The ETHICS COMMITTEE & the WISD Board’s lawyers used a sworn statement by a WISD employee: Mr. Bosold, Superintendent, to side-step the complaint, without ruling on their unethical and illegal advertising to promote the OUTLANDISH Bond elections.

I am deeply troubled by a So-Called ETHICS decision to overlook: clearly unethical behavior, by our sworn Trustees, and Superintendent. The Board was let off the hook, because of a SWORN affirmation of SOLELY independent activity by a WISD employee: the Superintendent. The Board supposedly KNEW NOTHING about his activities. What a CATCH-22: It was a beautiful legal maneuver: Throw out the complaint because it was committed by, and lodged against an EMPLOYEE. What happened to the “Trust” we placed in our TRUSTEES? Who is running the WISD; our elected officials, or a hired Superintendent who apparently can do no wrong?

He has great political savvy, and gets all the legal council and influence he needs; using the District’s money for lawyer fees. If nothing else; the Board is guilty of NEGLENCE in NOT monitoring the spending of PUBLIC TAX DOLLARS, & NOT KNOWING or CARING, about political activities committed by its employee, Mr. Mark Bosold. Spending public money to ADVOCATE an election by a political entity, namely our Board, is ILLEGAL!

If trying to keep our public officials accountable is TROUBLEMAKING, then so be it. AMEN AND AMEN! What have we done to help the school children of Winnsboro, you ASK? Well, we have tried to keep them from inheriting a legacy of DEBT for them and their children. Remember the HS bonds, including interest, were for $35,000,000, for 35 YEARS! You do the math. We have also tried to teach them to boldly work within the system to stop onerous activities by public officials.

We have offered REPEATEDLY to meet and work with the WISD school administration, or any civic group to develop plans for the District to renovate and expand ALL of it’s facilities. We have pleaded for the Board to develop a logical and financially sound Master Plan: for all of the Districts buildings. We’ve got classroom space just going to waste because the Board wants to build another shiny new HS building, and allows older and solid building to deteriorate!

Just look at the Westbrook campus; with repairs it will last another 50 years, and offers plenty of added teaching space. We could gain another dozen classrooms, & there’s even room to keep and upgrade the Senior Center activity and kitchen area!

Maybe this comment will help clarify some of the misinformation spewed about regarding our complaint.

Thanks,

William Frank Hobin Jr.
WISD resident
409 South Beech St.
Winnsboro, Texas 75494

An American’s Opinion on Immigrants

The following is an editorial written by an American citizen, published in an undisclosed local newspaper.

“IMMIGRANTS, NOT AMERICANS, MUST ADAPT!!” I am tired of this nation worrying about whether we are offending some individual or their culture, here in the USA. Since the terrorist attacks of September 11th, we have experienced a surge in patriotism by the majority of Americans. However, the dust from the attacks had barely settled when the “politically correct” crowd began complaining about the possiblity that our patriotism was offending others. I am not against immigration, nor do I hold a grudge against anyone seeking a better life by coming to America. Our population is almost entirely comprised of descendants of immigrants. However, there are a few things that those who have recently come to our country, and apparently some born here, need to understand.

This idea of America, being a mult-cultural community, has served only to dilute our sovereignty and our nation identity. As Americans, we have our own culture, our own society, our own language, and our own lifestyle. This culture has been developed over centuries of struggles, trials, and victories by millions of men and women who have sought freedom.

We speak ENGLISH, not Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, or any other language. Therefore, if you wish to become part of our society, learn the language! ENGLISH. “In God We Trust” is our national motto. This is not some Christian, right wing, political slogan. We adopted this motto because Christian men and women, of Christian principles, founded this nation, and this is clearly documented. It is certainly appropriate to display in on the walls of our schools. If God offends you, then I suggest you consider another part of the world as your new home, because God is and always will be part of our culture.

If the Stars and Stripes offend you, or you don’t like Uncle Sam, then you should seriously consider a move to another part of this planet. We are happy with our culture and have no desire to change, and we really don’t care how you did things where you came from. Remember, “Delta is ready when you are and they can have you there by nightfall.”

This is OUR COUNTRY, our land, and our lifestyle. Our First Amendment gives every citizen the right to express his opinion and we will allow you every opportunity to do so. But, once you are done complaining, whining, and griping about our flag, our plege, our national motto, or our way of life, I highly encourage you to take advantage of one other great American freedome, THE RIGHT TO LEAVE.

If you agree with this message, pass it on. If you don’t agree, pass it on anyway. What the heck! This is AMERICA, after all!

School on Memorial Day?

Dear Mr. Bosold:

Friday, May 24, 2002

It has been brought to our attention that our children will be asked to attend school on Memorial Day. Now we ask you…is this proper? After all that this country has been through this year, the terrorist attacks, and YOU, the schools, showing this to our children during school. Now we are going to teach them that it’s NOT a concern to celebrate Memorial Day?

While our children, teachers, and other faculty sit inside the schools…we have many men and women fighting for their safety. They deserve the day…the respect…the holiday.

I’m sure that when this school year holidays were “created” this was just another day to be used for a “bad weather day.” But things change. The thousands of people that have fought and are still fighting for this country deserve a lot more than this.

I have no doubt that the school district in Winnsboro has more tact than this. As an educator to this towns children…Surely you understand that morally this is the wrong decision.

Katie Phinney
Winnsboro, TX 75494

TCCA Information

May 24, 2002
The Trails Column in this weeks issue of the The Winnsboro News, another instance of “media frenzy”, calls for comment. Although I am not a member of the TCCA Board of Directors, I have been a volunteer working closely with the formation of the Center. I submit the following as my personal response to that column.

1) When comparing the operation of the Northeast Texas Americana Music Festival and TCCA, you might identify someone common to both situations.

2) Al Stillman was instrumental in forming TCCA. He asked a number of people to serve on its board of directors and appointed himself chairman.

3) Having “Grand” plans for TCCA, believing that TCCA needed a “place”, and personally eager to provide a home for TCCA he, apparently doing business as Stillman & Associates, purchased the building at 200 Market Street. He then solicited donations and funds in the name of TCCA for the renovation of the building. When it was repeatedly pointed out to him that this was a conflict of interest on his part, he resigned as TCCA board member and as its chairman

4) Subsequently, Stillman & Associates and TCCA were unable to come to an agreement on a lease arrangement. TCCA was expected to pick up on payments and other expenses for the building. Because of its new non-profit status and lack of funds, it could not assume these expenses. TCCA was then firmly led to believe that it would have to relocate. Georgia Lange was asked by the TCCA board to look for replacement facilities.

5) The depot was suggested to her and she contacted city officials. The building was inspected with city officials and she was asked to have TCCA submit a request to the city council seeking a sub-lease on the east end of the building. The letter from TCCA acting executive director Al Moore was in response to this request.

6) Since TCCA was requesting a “sub” lease from the city, there was no indication that the Heritage Society must be involved. That would have been between the city and the society.

7) On May 13th, upon receipt of a copy of a lease arrangement with the Heritage Society, and noting that all such matters would require the approval of the Society, Mrs. Lange called Maurine Lindsey and was told that no approval would be given. The request from TCCA to the city council was immediately withdrawn on the 13th and the item was dropped from the city council meeting agenda.

8) It is unfortunate that a number of members of the society who attended the council meeting looking for “a problem” had to be disappointed.

9) Removal of tent standards from the depot is another matter and should have been the subject of another column. The implication is that TCCA may have been involved.

10) One last thought….The column lists the Heritage Society as the “owner” of the depot. If they are leasing it from the railroad, is not the railroad the “owner” and the society a “lessee”?

Sincerely,

Rod Lange
TCCA Volunteer
Winnsboro, Texas

Thoughts on the value of the Parent Teacher Organization

Dear Editor,

When you invest your time, as with your money, you expect a good return on investment. I am happy to report that the Winnsboro PTO (Parent Teacher Organization) volunteers had an outstanding return on their wise investment of time. Because of a few hours given through out the year by a group of individuals, the PTO was able to raise funds to distribute to all three campuses. Funds were raised through the football concession stand, pencil and lollipop sales at the Elementary school and Valentine balloon sales and Spring Dance at the Middle school. The PTO was able to contribute funds to help the Elementary school towards their purchase of a marquee sign. Funds were given to the Middle school to help towards the purchase of needed outdoor equipment. The High school received donations for Project Graduation, money for needed supplies, and two
$500 scholarships.

As well as we did this last school year, we need more volunteers for the upcoming year to be able to continue to raise and distribute funds to help our students and schools. There are numerous volunteer opportunities that require only a small time investment. Volunteers are needed to help out at the concession stand at the home football games. Concession volunteers can pitch in either for an entire game or just a quarter or two. We need volunteers to help decorate for the Spring dance, chaperones for the dance, help with photos with Santa, and help with lollipop sales. These are just a few of the opportunities for people to give just a small amount of time to bring a big return to our kids. We also have board positions still available. Please contact any PTO board member including Janie Simmonds at 629-7544 and Lisa Hellyer 342-1019 (email hellyers4@hotmail.com) for volunteer information. Thanks again to all the volunteers who helped this year.

Lisa Hellyer
PTO Reporter