News writing is supposed to be simple and easy for anyone to understand. I love what I do as an editor precisely because news writers don't always get this.

My job is to take what they give me and, if needed, cut out the fat. I throw out the extra details, the semblance of a writer's opinion, the editorializing, the rambling. When I'm done, if I did my job correctly, you're left with facts spoken as simple truth, as unbiased as whatever the opposite of Fox and CNN are.

I've taken my skill set on the road and applied it to every argument made about the nickel tax Christian County Public Schools is hoping to levy.

But before I get to that point, let me clear the air. A lot of people who disagree with me on this subject are people I heavily respect. One of the more prominent voices on either side of this debate is a family friend. More than that, he's a man of integrity whom I admire as a human being.

When I told my mom what I'd be writing this column about, she ranted at me for a good two or three minutes about how wrong I was. I have no need to pen how much I love and respect her, even if the glint in her eyes seemed murderous when I mistakenly asked what she thought.

So while it pains, the truth doesn't much care for familial bonds. It doesn't care who my friends are, or whether my mom finds me and beats me for writing this.

Christian County, I'm writing to speak to you a simple truth, and it is this:

We do not pay enough for our schools.

Regardless of how you feel about CCPS Superintendent Mary Ann Gemmill, Hopkinsville High School is falling apart.

Regardless of how you feel about the school board, its actions, inaction or anything else, we do not pay enough in tax to build the facilities our students need to have a chance to compete in a global economy.

Regardless of whether you think the next school should be in Oak Grove -- a town that, so far as I can tell, feels ignored by its lack of a public educational facility -- it doesn't change that no matter where the next school should be built, the district can't afford it.

Regardless of whether you think you could have done better long-term planning than the board and its past iterations (and honestly, for the situation to have gotten this bad I may even agree with you), it doesn't make any of our schools age more slowly, nor does it reverse how dilapidated some have become.

Regardless of how you feel about how the board has spent the money you've been giving it the last few decades, it's not about them. Their records are public, and you can elect a new board. Our students can't elect not to go to a school that's well past its sell-by date.

Regardless of how you expensive you think school already is, how much the big exams cost, each year that passes means more expensive maintenance on buildings that should have been replaced a decade or more ago.

Regardless of whether you think public schools are "socialist" and favor the privatization of education, no such school is currently forthcoming, and our current private schools can't hold everyone.

Regardless of how you feel about more taxation, we are the 11th most populous county of 120 in the state, paying the seventh lowest amount in school tax.

Throw out the fat in these arguments and let's get down to the nitty gritty. So what? You fire the superintendent, replace the board, gain an understanding of where the money is going and … what does any of that change?

The part of this story you can't edit out is that some of these schools should have been replaced already. They haven't been, for one reason or another, but a big one is because we haven't done our fair share. We aren't doing right by our students.

It's time to change that.

If Christian County is going to make progress, if it's going to produce young adults that thrive in economy we're tossing them into, we need to invest now. Those schools are more than just buildings you have to pay for, they're our future. If we can't make them palaces as our children deserve, then let's at least do the best we can -- and let's do it right now.

Jesse Jones is the editor of The Eagle Post, a member of Paxton Media Group. To reach him, email jjones@kentuckynewera.com.

(2) comments

Catdaddy

You're right about one thing, the schools need help. But not until the school board looks at other ways to conserve and cutting back to create revenue without taxing. It was reported in The Kentucky New Era that out of the 8,706 students in the CCPS that 6,001 of those students qualify for free or reduced lunch. That’s nearly 70% of the students. It was also stated in an article several months back in the New Era that in some Hopkinsville neighborhoods, the rental ratio exceeds 70%. Currently, 53% of residential properties in Hopkinsville are identified as rental; Hopkinsville is one of the highest rental cities in Kentucky. Since this is a property tax, this information insinuates to me that 40% - 45% of the population are the ones that are paying the property taxes and that percentage is probably becoming smaller. Maybe that's why we're the 11th most populous county paying the 7th lowest amount of property tax. I wish you would research and find out how many times the Christian County school board has taxed or increased taxes since the Kentucky legislature give them the power to do so. That is why there should be a referendum for each time a school tax comes up.

9182

i agree 100% with Catdaddy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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