Letter to the Editor: Taxpayers also deserve respect
Recently Shenandoah County had two events juxtaposed that I think are worth highlighting. One event was National Teacher Appreciation week. I suspect that we can all remember some great teachers. Two years ago, I visited my old elementary school and high school. Yes, they are still using the same great buildings. They looked unchanged from the outside. My visit was a wonderful time to reflect upon my own education and the men and women who served me so well.
In Shenandoah County (as elsewhere) we have had a great debate over the level of funding for our public schools. The debate has focused on teacher pay and benefits. As usual, our schools have been given a budget increase, and school employees are expecting to receive roughly 6-11 percent more in total pay. Interestingly, senior staff will receive the highest percentage raise even though the main argument for the raise has been the need to attract new teachers. Therefore, with this significant financial victory teachers and others have much reason for celebration. The raise marks a long run of increased public funding (taxes) for education in the county. Funding estimated to be three-fold greater over the last 50 years in inflation-adjusted dollars.
The second event, timing perhaps by accident, the residents of Shenandoah County received their tax assessment – due June 6. A stark reminder that we must now pay for the continued public generosity to our educators.
Perhaps we should have an annual taxpayer appreciation week and a day of celebration for the men and women who go to work to give our schools and other government funding. I suggest that the organizations that advocate for ever-increasing school funding should be at the forefront of appreciation for our citizens. From what I know, the last public acknowledgment of gratitude for our taxpayers was in 2015.
I remind us all that the debate over school funding should never be construed as disrespect for teachers. Likewise, we must never lose sight of those that provide the funding. Taxpayers also deserve respect and appreciation.
Dr. Stephen Curtis, Edinburg