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Letters: Consolidation is costly

Johnson City Press • Sep 13, 2019 at 6:00 AM

Want to have your voice heard? Send a Letter to the Forum. Authors must sign their letters and include addresses and phone numbers for verification. Letters may be no longer than 300 words and will be edited for grammar, style and length. Send your submission to Mailbag, P.O. Box 1717, Johnson City, TN 37605-1717 or [email protected].

Consolidation is costly

I am writing in response to Jamie Freeman’s letter in Sunday's paper regarding school consolidation within Washington County. The theme of his letter is completely off base. He states, “Untold millions would be saved if Johnson City and Washington County consolidated into one county system by eliminating duplicate services.” While many have this opinion, I'm certain they have not seen the budget impact.

State law requires equalization of teacher compensation in a consolidation. It also requires the lower paid system be brought up to the level of the higher with no reduction to the higher paid system’s employees. That would be over $6,000,000 per year. Secondly, there is a requirement to equalize what is termed “maintenance of effort.” Johnson City contributes in excess of $11,000,000 above required funding. The county does not. That's now a $17,000,000 annual increase. Let’s toss in all the hundreds of millions of dollars of city school facilities which would not just be donated to the county.

The “one superintendent instead of two” argument is without merit. A consolidated system would have over 17,000 students. A system of this size would demand superintendent compensation which would exceed that of either of the current directors. The system would also need a second in command whose compensation would be near the current directors’ salaries.

Property owners in Johnson City pay about 65% of property taxes which go to fund all the schools in the city and county. It is obvious the increased annual cost of consolidation will be more than $20,000,000 per year. That’s an over 60 cents increase on the county property tax. While I believe consolidation has its merits, simple math shows why Johnson City is opposed to it. Past Washington County commissions have refused to fund the county schools equally to the city’s. That’s why consolidation would be so costly, not save money.

KEVIN COLE
Johnson City

Make America moral again

Words have meaning. I would like for all that read this to consider two words: “politician” and “statesman.”

It’s sad that in the day and age we live that one would have to go to a comic strip for some reason and truth. I refer to the Sunday issue (Sept. 8) of “Pearls Before Swine.” The way the cartoon is written, the senator is not going to vote for the bill an average citizen would like him to because his big donors would not give him the “moola” to get re-elected, which is everything to the senator.

This is the perfect example of a politician. A statesman, on the other hand, would vote for the bill which is beneficial to the average citizen and the country at large. The statesman is also not swayed by influence bought by campaign donations.

John Adams, this country’s second president, once said, “Our Constitution is designed only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for any other.”

I am fearful for our republic. The age of the government of and for the people will soon ebb into the annals of history unless a return to morality and faith in God is realized.

JOHN AUGUSTAS
Bluff City

Greeks displaced ETSU staff

With the past two months, the Press has published two celebratory articles on the move of two fraternities from beyond campus confines to the ETSU campus. Both articles have emphasized the social and communal benefits the fraternity members will gain from the move, with a nod to the academic benefits of the houses providing "study spaces" for the members. (Sherrod Library contains many such spaces.)

These articles have told only one side of this story; the other side concerns the forced moving of administrative and academic units from Maple Street to hither and yon on the campus. Although rumors about the fate of the Maple Street offices had swirled for a number of years, only in the six weeks or so prior to the July 5 deadline did administrative staff and faculty in one of the houses learn they would have to pack up their offices in preparation for the move. This means that vital academic functions such as advising and teaching students took a back seat to the work necessary for the move to an outdated dormitory building that opened in 1966. The building is not suitable for academic and administrative offices. From my perspective (and only my perspective) as an ETSU faculty member of 30+ years, the staff and faculty in my unit, and the valuable academic work they do for students, matter less than fraternities and their social functions.

MARIE TEDESCO
Jonesborough

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