“Quality of life” has always been one of my priorities for the citizens of Independence. On April 7, the voters residing within the Independence School District have the opportunity to maintain and improve our “quality of life” for just a little over 10 cents a day. When this levy passes, Independence will have the second lowest tax levy in the area – between Blue Springs and Fort Osage. All three are great school districts with students living within the Independence city limits.
About six years ago, the Independence School District lost approximately $4.5 million in funding from a variety of sources but primarily because of lower property value assessments in Jackson County. State and federal funding for special programs also fell while the cost of education continued to rise.
The good news was our property taxes lowered with lower assessed evaluation. The bad news is the ISD had to reduce more than 100 staff positions due to the reduced revenue. It is important that each student receives the individual attention they need to excel to their potential.
We must continue to enable our teachers to teach the skills needed for students to compete in the world where other countries are making education a priority. We are asking our teachers to do more and more with students who have special needs and skills. This attention can only be given if the teachers have reasonable class sizes and the co-operation of parents and community.
The district has seen an influx of over 1,300 students in the last six years. Young parents from Blue Springs, Lee’s Summit, Raytown and surrounding areas are purchasing affordable housing offered in Independence. The district has been a good steward of their revenue, but they can only do so much to make a dollar stretch.
The city of Independence continues to encourage business and industry to locate in our community. One of the main factors a company looks for when relocating is the school district and the quality of education offered. We need to make sure our school districts are able to maintain and excel in education opportunities for our students.
As your former mayor of Independence, I know the value of a strong school system. Strong schools are not only vitally important to our economic growth, they are the lifeblood of our community.
Thank you for joining me on April 7 as we make an investment in our community by voting “yes” for students and teachers. It is a quality-of-life issue.