Over a period of many of my nearly 15 years in the community, I have challenged the Upper St. Clair School Board for its consistent profligacy.
Some have appreciated my efforts. Some have considered me an extremist. Some have adopted the mantra of, “If you don’t like it, do not try to exert your influence with the hope of bringing about change; rather, you should keep your mouth shut and get out.”
I have also been told by some, “If you do not like it, run for a position on the board”: easier said than done for those of us with significant other responsibilities, including ordinary full-time employment with set hours.
The Almanac serves to provide vindication of my viewpoint in its compelling editorial of Oct. 19, “USC Plans Likely to Annoy Taxpayers,” in which it notes the inordinately large boost in real estate taxes this year of 5.66 percent and the board’s plans to earmark millions of dollars of our money, including for sports-related expenses, something which contributes nothing to academic enrichment and is not an “extremely compelling” expenditure.
I believed in 2002 that I was moving into a community which practiced fiscal responsibility, and at one time, it did. Then the $27.5 million publicly funded recreation center palace came along, approved over the stated objections of thousands, and power was seized by school board members whose mantra is, “We hate to increase taxes, but …”.
As the Almanac notes, for some expenditures, there is no choice but to provide funding through the imposition of taxes, but compensation, benefits and “capital improvements” are discretionary.
The composition of our school board does not often change, and residents seem to vote for those whose names they know, including those who have presided over tax increase after tax increase year after year, something about which they have demonstrated little genuine concern. Term limits are never discussed for members of the board.
I have come to recognize what a raw financial deal is dealt to families like mine, in which there has not been and shall not ever be a public school student using public resources. Upper St. Clair is increasingly becoming a community for the wealthy elite, as a largely voiceless middle class is being hit from every direction.
Upper St. Clair