News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Hartselle City Schools at a crucial crossroads

To The Daily: I am concerned about Hartselle and where we are headed regarding our commitment to education.

I think it is fitting to reflect on how we got to this crossroads. In the late ’70s, Hartselle folks felt they could create a better education and more opportunities by having their own school system separate from the county. The community leaders had a vision and with that vision they started Hartselle City Schools.

They allocated 41 percent of sales-tax revenue to the school system. Through the ’80s Hartselle held steady growth and the school system established itself as one of the best in the state. As the city grew, infrastructure needs grew and other departments were left to manage these needs with few funds.

Over time, animosity began to emerge between city departments and the school system. This culminated into a decision by Mayor Samie Wiley and the City Council, which included Ronald Grantland, to break the percentage of sales tax guaranteed to schools and cap the amount of city funds to schools. The years following saw a decline in percentage of city revenue going to schools.

As Hartselle continued to grow and record revenues, the city’s budget included no increases in school funding. The percentage of sales-tax revenue had dropped from 41 percent in 1980 to about 33 percent in 1996 and is less than 28 percent today.

So here we are at the crossroads. Do we maintain our school system or not? The school board is opting to get a property tax passed for the new school. No proposal has been sanctioned by the council, nor have they put forth any proposed solutions. Yet, all agree, something needs to be done.

We now look to our elected leaders to make decisions, to offer solutions, debate them and then chart a course.

Andy Vest

Imagine a Virginia Tech massacre every day

To The Daily: This dreadful thought came through my mind in the wake of the Virginia Tech massacre that has been occupying our media the past few days. While our sympathy goes out to the Virginia Tech victims, just imagine the innocent civilian killings going on in Iraq, almost every single day, ever since the United States attacked Iraq.

What if similar mass killings happened in this country on a daily basis? One in Blacksburg, Va., another in Eugene, Ore., Lawrence, Kan., Auburn, Bloomington, Ind. for 365 days a year? Today in San Francisco, tomorrow in San Diego, Sacramento, Santa Barbara, Fresno, and on and on and on every single day. It is not too difficult to imagine what the innocent Iraqis go through. In addition to broken social infrastructure, the society is in chaos, and we are not too far off to say that the political and economic system in that country is in a state of anarchy.

So, the question is: What can we do to restore order and safety in that country? Despite the fact that the primary responsibility lies with the current U.S. government, the international community must step up to bring peace and stability to that country. If the whole world decides to come together to pursue this to the best possible ability, I think this seemingly impossible situation can be turned around.

It is our responsibility. We must come together as one as if the planet Earth were under attack by an enemy from outer space. It is time for us to prove to ourselves the power, intelligence, commitment, will, and unity to make the world we live in a better and safer place for everyone.

Haruki Yokochi

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