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Community Forum: City schools should limit tuition students
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Lately there has been talk about raising the student tuition rate at Gainesville schools due to the deficit, just as the school board raised the tax mill rate on city properties.

Although we have some great families involved in this program, tuition students are costing city taxpayers money. The tuition rate should be increased to cover the cost of educating tuition students, not the city tax rate.

As of 2006, the last study done on tuition, the city schools had 408 known tuition-paying students attending (there are a lot more that are not accounted for). Although we can't get an accurate number on the cost to the system, we can use the cost per student numbers that the school provides to get an idea of the impact on our system.

The city spends about $8,200 per student. The state and federal government contributes about $4,200 per student. If you subtract that and the tuition ($450 per student), we are left with $3,500 per student for city taxpayers to cover. With 408 students, that is just under $1.5 million per year!

This is not what the central office would have you believe. They like to leave in the local taxes, so it looks like the system is coming out ahead. Very misleading, since local taxpayers are not responsible for these students, their own district is.

We have had tuition students for a very long time, but our city has grown too large to accommodate them. I am not saying kick them out, but now would be the time to put a cap on the number of students we have coming in, possibly even a freeze on any new enrollment until we get our budget under control and get an accurate count on the number of out-of-city students in our system.

I should point out that these numbers do not include any of the teachers' children. We need to provide their children with the opportunity to come to our schools so we can attract and retain good teachers.

For those of you who live in the city, you have just had your taxes increase by 12 percent. This increase is to pay off about $1.7 million a year of a $6 million deficit. To add to our problem, the state is withholding $600,000 from our schools due to shortfalls in state revenue. Since this was announced after the budget was complete, that money will need to come from our deficit reduction plan. So to pay off this deficit in a timely manner, we either have another property tax increase or we reign in our spending by making significant changes in the way our system is run.

I don't have a problem with people paying to come to our schools. I do have a problem with paying higher taxes so other people can send their kids to our schools instead of their own, especially when every government agency is talking about raising taxes because their revenue is down.

What about our revenue? Does everyone in the city have the money to cover the cost of the tax increase? If someone doesn't want to pay a tuition increase, they can go to their district school. If we don't pay our taxes, we will lose our home.

I urge Gainesville residents to contact the school board to let them know how you feel, even if you disagree.

Kellie Weeks

Politicians' focus: Buy votes, point fingers
Are you going to vote? We constantly hear about our rights being violated. Yet we throw them away by not exercising them. But don't vote for voting's sake. Become informed and think.

Definition: Hypocrisy; a feigning to what one is not or to believe what one does not. Another spelling: politician.

Our government has imposed itself on a number of issues because they need to be fixed, including Social Security and education. Let's talk about energy, the banking industry and also one of the major components of GNP, and the building industry. On the horizon is medicine.

How did we get there? Our government is reactive, not proactive. Of course, fault must be found so fingers can be pointed and then harp on it.

Everything that one party does not like and seems to benefit the people must go away. It can be undone. Look at the actions and the discussions about items like the Kennedy and the Bush tax cuts.

Those were populist goodies. So it's obvious that if you can get rid of the goodies, why don't they get rid of the "baddies" rather than harping? The main reason for harping is to create a villain for the future. If they can't do this right, then they can't do anything right.

Let's go back to hypocrisy and apply it to the military, those wonderful people who serve our country and give their lives. And how about that terrible party that sent these people into battle with less than the best weapons?

Now a shot of hypocrisy serum: When hostilities end, the military budget is cut, not decreased, but rather chopped almost to nothing. Yet politicians need that money to buy votes, make people indebted to them and gain power.

But weapons continue to change. The result is that if hostilities occur, we make our people endure while we play catch-up. In other words, those people are expendable. if Jimmy Carter's dismantling of our military had not been undone, what role would we have played as a peacekeeper around the world?

After all Congress can tell us, "no that won't work" when a proposal is made. If they can tell us what not to do, why can't they correct what we do? I could carry on with examples about our economy, about "loaded" bills put up for vote, etc.

Please think! Please get informed. An intelligent man once said, don't believe anything you hear and only half of what you see.

George Koesters

Many will be praying for nation after election
I am writing this letter to give all the Bible thumpers and regular churchgoers advance warning to expect larger than normal attendance during your Nov. 9 Sunday morning worship services. I base this prediction upon the increased church attendance observed on the Sunday after Sept. 11, 2001.

Barring a supernatural or some natural disaster of the nth degree, the American people will participate in a most historic lose-lose presidential election. Regardless of who wins this election, Americans will be forced to abandon capitalism and embrace socialism. For those of you who don't know the difference between capitalism and socialism, I suggest you check your dictionary. And as Elmer Fudd would say, "Be very, very, afraid."

Is there any good news? Yes! For those of us who have seen the light, so to speak, we are confident and proclaim that the governing powers are still being ordained by God and therefore continue to sleep safe and sound from all alarm.

William P. Clark
Flowery Branch

McCain's policies sound a lot like Bush's
If John McCain is as different from George Bush, as he insists, then he ought to explain how he plans to keep stringing out the abysmally costly war in Iraq while nursing our economy back to health. Those two promises of his are plainly oil and water.

Under McCain, this country will simply be injected with more jingoistic steroids. Through some eyes, that may make us look stronger, but in reality it will continue to kill our economy, our alliances, and not to mention our fellow Americans.

Al Daniel