I've been reading about the school consolidation discussions in the local papers. It's all so disheartening. It's terrible to have to lose a community school. It's a sign that in so many other ways besides just the schools, our community is in trouble.
Much of the discussion has focused on a leaky roof, a broken dishwasher, windows held together with duct tape, and asbestos issues.
It would be nice if the roof could be patched, but that's just a stopgap measure. Asbestos needs to be removed rather than covered up. A worn-out dishwasher needs to be replaced, but it is often a sign that the kitchen needs more work besides just a new dishwasher.
Supt. Katzenberger also described the general condition of the building as needing a redo. I haven't been in the building, but it sounds in general like deferred maintenance. And it sounds as if lots of money will be needed to bring it up to acceptable standards.
The Galena School District is also having discussions about deferred maintenance and what to do when there is no money.
It's amazing, we live in the richest country in the world and there is no money.
The solution for both school districts seems obvious. Get rid of the TIF districts ASAP. And then temporarily raise local taxes, a combination of sales taxes and property taxes.
However, long-term, not just for the schools but for the Palisades, for seniors and the poor, we need to vote yes and switch to a progressive state income tax. It's time for the rich to pay their fair share. And finally, if you're reading this, you probably will not pay more in taxes than you do now.
Let's ask our state reps to do more than simply say no to the tax referendum. They need to reach out across the aisle and say that this isn't a problem unique to Northwest Illinois; this is a statewide issue we need to work out together.
Instead of arguing over the new bus routes, let's discuss what our community could look like with robust school funding, not just the basics, but the whole menu of educational opportunities. And then pay for it. And then young families with children will move here.