Breaking with our historic perspective of school levies

For as long as anyone writing for The Vindicator today can remember, this newspaper has always endorsed the passage of additional property tax levies to fund education in Mahoning Valley school districts.

We are shifting our position from one of unconditional support for new school taxes to one calling for voters to take additional time and make the added effort to evaluate whether their school districts need and deserve the additional revenue being sought.

So, where in the past the reader would have seen a darkened box beside the words “For the tax levy” on the sample ballots appearing opposite this page, today neither the “for” nor “against” box is blackened.

A considered opinion

We have not taken this step away from instinctively endorsing additional levies lightly. And we are not joining the increasingly popular “just say no” or “starve the beast” anti-tax movements. Financing our schools involves complicated issues that deserve better than a recycled anti-drug slogan. And we’re not confronting “beasts” when discussing school funding. We’re grappling with the need to educate our children and our neighbors’ children — the young people who will some day determine the future of our communities and our nation.

The reader will find that we have continued to endorse passage of the school renewal levies appearing on the ballots. That is as much a recognition of the economic realities of the day as is our decision to not issue blanket endorsements of additional levies. We don’t believe school boards can work miracles; that is, at time when state support is being cut and costs — especially in energy — are rising, districts can’t sustain cuts in their vital local funding sources.

There is little question that some, if not all, of the school districts seeking additional revenue deserve the support of their voters and taxpayers. However, we are not prepared as a community institution to pick the “winners” and “losers” among them.

These are difficult times in our nation and in our corner of Northeast Ohio. Such times require all of us to re-evaluate how we view things and the principles on which we operate.

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