Letter to the Editor: Think of schools when voting

Editor:

As a parent of children in Shenandoah County Public Schools, I am naturally concerned about what the loss of accreditation for two county schools means for education in this county. As a Realtor, I am also concerned about what this means for property values in this county, and for the home equity that is most people’s largest asset.

W.W. Robinson Elementary and North Fork Middle schools have lost their state accreditation due to poor performance on SOL tests, and if Sandy Hook Elementary doesn’t improve, it will lose accreditation as well.

The quality of schools affects real estate values. When families are looking to buy, they care about the quality of the schools, and in the Internet era, they can learn quite a lot with very limited effort. For many such families, non-accredited schools are a deal-breaker. Home values are driven by demand for homes in a particular area. If an entire large class of potential buyers – families with school-aged children – are driven away from an area, home prices and property values fall.

Shenandoah County would be wise to treat this as the crisis that it is, and to provide the schools with the resources they need to address it. Of course, additional money isn’t the entire solution, but it would allow the schools, for example, to hire the English Language Learner teachers they badly need.

Unfortunately, my supervisor, Marsha Shruntz, has made clear that under no circumstances will she support additional resources to help the schools deal with this. For the owner of a $150,000 home, her “no new taxes” pledge may have saved them $60/year in property taxes last year, but it may cost them thousands in home equity.

Dennis Morris knows that we have to balance our aversion to taxes with an understanding that services – public safety, fire and rescue, and of course, schools – are essential to our local economy. He can also help rid the Board of Supervisors of the toxic incivility and dysfunction that have made our county a regional laughingstock. Let’s all think of our schools, our kids, our economy and our reputation when we vote on Nov. 7.

Abby Walters, Strasburg

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