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Why I’m voting yes on March 10

I am going to vote yes for the school bond millage request on March 10, 2020.

I don’t want to, but I am going to.

It’s not that I don’t want to support the schools. I simply hate the position the schools are in and do not believe schools should ever have to go to the voters for millage requests. But that’s the world we live in, and I know that, to make a change of that kind, it must be done in Lansing.

This issue sure is giving people something to talk about. It is bringing out the uneducated keyboard warriors, too. Whew! I used to be one of the people who felt like schools should operate like a business. Included in that was the thinking that schools should save and plan for capital improvements, just like businesses and responsible homeowners do. Then I allowed myself to learn more about it with an open mind, and realized it isn’t that simple.

First, I read a book that was given to me.

I cannot recall the name of it, but the part of the book that sticks in my mind was the example of an ice cream business. If an ice cream business orders blueberries to go into their ice cream, and they receive a bad batch of blueberries, they do not have to use those berries. They can send them back and demand a better-quality product. Or they can use the bad blueberries, and do the best they can to turn out a quality product but will likely fall short of delivering that.

One of the ways our schools cannot operate like a business is that they must educate every child who comes through their doors. Children come to school with all kinds of history — some from good homes, some from bad, some with learning disabilities, others without. Some come with empty bellies, while others will fortunately never know what it is like to truly feel hungry. Some come with proper clothing for the seasons, while others cannot afford to. Schools cannot turn away students like a business can turn away blueberries.

The example in the book is not calling our children blueberries, but instead paints a very real picture of what our schools are required to deal with.

Second, I spent some time on the school board.

I am not going to go into all kinds of details about the budget, finances, and decisions, but I will give you some general statements. The school board meetings are open to the public. The minutes and budget are posted online for anyone to access at any time. The budget is not a resource you should take at face value. It is something that is best understood by also getting to know the entire education system. To fully understand the budget, we must also grasp where school funds come from, what restrictions schools are legally obligated to operate under, what funding sources are available to schools, union impacts on schools, and so much more.

Anyone can look at a budget and make assumptions based on the numbers alone, but the truly educated person will have sought information on the bigger picture. Although I am no longer on the school board, the lessons I learned during my time there stick with me.

I don’t like paying taxes. I have issues with our entire public education system. I don’t want to vote yes to help fund infrastructure. But I know that those are not good reasons to send our children to schools that are in desperate need of repair.

I also know it is our responsibility to give our local school district what they need to provide safe, warm, and adequate learning environments for our children. It is about more than education. It is also about the health and future of our community.

Like so many of us, I do not want our schools to have to go to the voters to ask for money.

But they must, and it is not the fault of our local school board, staff or administration.

A no vote on March 10 will not change the system in which our schools must operate. We must go to Lansing for that.

A no vote will only allow our children to be held as hostages to the system.

That’s like parents using children as pawns in a divorce. It’s ugly and unfair to the children, and should never happen.

We, as a community, have a responsibility to our children, and March 10 is the date on which we are being asked to make the responsible choice.

Jackie Krawczak is president of Jackie Krawczak LLC. Her column runs every three weeks on Thursdays. Follow Jackie on Twitter @jkrawczak.

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