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Can the long-term damage to our public schools and community caused by the Spotsylvania County Board of Supervisors' underfunding schools annually be measured and prevented? Absolutely.
The Washington Post's annual Challenge Index for public high schools measures a community's commitment to the rigors of academic excellence.
It measures the total number of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and Advanced International Certificate of Education tests given at a school each year divided by the number of seniors who graduated in May or June.
The 2013 Challenge Index ranked 178 public high schools in the Washington area. Massaponax ranked 93rd, Riverbend 108th, Courtland 144th, Chancellor 175th and Spotsylvania was dead last at 178th. Stafford County schools graded better than Spotsylvania schools.
The commonwealth's annual Local Composite Index for public school funding indicates that Spotsylvania County can afford to pay more for public schools.
The supervisors' decisions regarding 50 percent of their budget not only ensures that our high schools will remain in the bottom half of the Challenge Index each year, but forced deferred maintenance ensures that taxpayers will pay more in the future.
Vowing to not increase property taxes, coupled with neurotic fear over increasing them, limits options and hinders judgment to make effective school funding decisions by limiting options to raise necessary funds.
Instead of obsessing over not increasing taxes, obsess over providing better futures for our children. It's naive to expect academic excellence to thrive in our schools when schools are underfunded.
The supervisors' long-term measurable damage is to deny our children early competitive foundations for life and self-sustaining jobs.
Ronald N. Fiske