Our Committee People Make Their Voices Heard!

In a 'Letter to the Editor', Phil Browndeis, Committeeperson in Ward 8, Precinct 3, discusses Democratic proposed tax hike and how it will affect Lower Merion School District.

By Philip Browndeis
For Main Line Media News
Published: Friday, February 20, 2015.

In January, I received a modest increase in my salary, and then I learned that 20 percent of it will go to the school board because my property tax will increase. I keeping telling myself that public education is a public good, but after 16 straight years of taxes increases - it is clear that this School Board has forgotten that public schools are paid for by compulsory taxation not voluntary tuition.

According to the School District website, diversity is valued and celebrated, but year after year tax increases just raises the invisible bar higher for entry into the Township. These tax increases have transformed Lower Merion into the equivalent of a gated community.

We now have a new class of people residing in Lower Merion, which prefers its children volunteer to build a school in Nepal, rather than be junior firefighters in Ardmore. We have raised a generation in Lower Merion which has no rootedness to the place where they were born, but why should they?

Success for our high school graduates now means to move far away as possible rather than return to Lower Merion with their master degrees. But when the romance of the city wears thin and it’s time for our Millennials to return from Portland, Brooklyn or Fishtown to raise a family in a place with good schools, then the irony will set in that our graduates of Lower Merion and Harriton will not be able to return because the taxes that paid for their education are now too high for them to buy a home in the Township.

Superintendent Marseille likes to talk about conversation and engagement with the community. The best way to do so is to allow this tax increase to be decided by referendum as allowed by Act 1 on May 19th, the next Election Day. Although the School District may be eligible for the Act 1 exceptions that does not mean you have to apply for them year after year. Let’s vote on it as the law permits. Imagine the lesson in civics it would be for our students.

They have learned that 2015 is the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act and many have seen the film, Selma about the struggle to obtain the right to vote by African-Americans. Little do they know that their own parents are denied the right to vote by this very School Board. If you are so certain that you have the public support to raise our taxes, then give us the vote on May 19th. If every expense in this $246 million budget is justified, then it should be no contest in a referendum. You’ll easily win.

So let the conversation begin as Superintendent Marseille likes to say, but all I hear is silence - because silence is your power.

Philip Browndeis is a resident of Wynnewood.

 

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