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Letter: ESPLOST V all about wants instead of needs

Dear editor,

Dr. Eric Mackey, Alabama’s State Superintendent of Education, has declared “Academic Growth and Achievement as Job One.” The Alabama Literacy Act, established in 2019, mandates all students entering the fourth grade read on grade level.

Dr. Mackey looks at three areas of criteria before investing in any expense; 1) Will it help students become better readers?, 2) Will it help students succeed in math and algebra?, and 3) Will it make students more productive and responsible citizens when they graduate from high school? What a novel idea!

Our Troup County School System (TCSS) has the 6th Educational Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (ESPLOST) scheduled to be voted on Feb. 22 through March 16. This special election, intended to guarantee low voter turnout, cost you and all other taxpayers of Troup County $53,800 in wasted money; not good stewardship with our money.

TCSS could have easily placed their ESPLOST VI referendum on the past November general election ballot, but they chose not to do so.

The ESPLOST VI is forecasted to bring in some $82 Million of our money for TCSS to spend; a lot more than “just a penny.” A total of 90% of their projects have nothing to do with improving Academic Growth and Achievement. TCSS ranks in the bottom 42% in the state. That is surely nothing to brag about.

I could possibly support an ESPLOST if TCSS vigorously used the same strategy as Dr. Mackey uses, but TCSS doesn’t. We tend to place new school buildings, giant indoor gymnasiums, and roofing and HVAC replacements ahead of Academic Growth and Achievement, not to mention that TCSS has brushed aside many bullying issues as though they don’t exist at our schools. Well, bullying is a big problem in our schools and little is done to stop it. From the breakdown of project costs, I can only find at best $7.6 million of the $81.8 million, or less than 10%, going towards academics.

$82 Million is a lot more than “just a penny.” I cannot vote in favor of such wasteful spending and ask that you, too, vote against ESPLOST VI.

Tommy Callaway

LaGrange