Letter to the Editor from Macon Resident and Former Board Member, Brent Bernhardt
Dear Editor, July 5, 2018
Over the past several months, most of us have been made aware of the effort to redistrict students from the Clarence area to the Macon Co. R-1 School District.
When I heard of this effort my first and current thoughts were to hope the community in Shelby County would work together and come to some kind of compromise to resolve their differences which would hold their communities and most importantly their school district together. When this did not occur, several individuals followed guidelines set forth by Missouri state law and petitioned Macon and Shelby County citizens to ask for the redistricting to be placed on the August 2018 ballot. Enough names were collected to move forward with the upcoming election. For justified reasons, this has created great controversy in both communities as there are strong feelings in favor as well as against the effort. The information that has been shared from both Macon and Shelby County Schools have been heavily debated, individuals have been defamed, and no doubt emotions have been fueled by social media sites.
There is no doubt if this issue was to pass and an arbitration board authorized the redistricting, the South Shelby School District would suffer financial loss and Macon County R-1 would only stand to gain from it. Whether this effort passes or fails, both Macon and South Shelby Schools will survive.
From information provided by the Macon County R-1 Superintendent and School Board, if this issue would pass, Macon County R-1 would have the opportunity to educate over 200 Clarence area children and monetarily receive approximately two million dollars of extra tax revenue each year for the next 20 years at NO cost to Macon County citizens. With access to the extra tax money, Macon Co. R-1 would have the ability to pay off school buildings that are currently under construction after waiting five years as required by school bond guidelines, complete other facility needs, as well as enhancing already excellent educational opportunities for students. With the new facilities currently under construction, Macon Co. R-1 can accommodate the extra students and ensure small class sizes and maintain a strong educational environment.
Recently, to assist those individuals who do not wish their children to obtain an education at Macon Co. R-1, the Macon School Board approved a measure to pay tuition for current 7th through 12th grade students who wish to attend South Shelby who are from the Clarence area. Ideas are already being shared about keeping the current Clarence school building open for other educational opportunities that would be utilized by several area schools.
Many citizens in Macon County are retired or are on fixed incomes. There is no doubt many feel a bit financially burdened by taxation. With the extra tax income Macon County would receive from the proposed school redistricting, less tax money would be needed from community tax payers to support our school. The impact from that would trickle down and free up more opportunities to allocate current tax income on infrastructure within our community.
I have always held the people in Shelby County and South Shelby Schools in very high regard. I believe they are very good people and the education provided to their students is of good quality. It is unfortunate this matter has become a hot topic issue, but in a country created by democracy I believe the individuals who have stood up for what they believe in and started this effort feel they no longer have a voice of representation and see a once in a lifetime opportunity to be a part of Macon R-1. In my opinion, they have followed the letter of the law and have gone through this process to initiate needed change. Change is hard and comes with sweat and tears.
I publicly wish to acknowledge and thank Macon Co. R-1 School Superintendent Scott Jarvis and the Macon School Board. From the very beginning they too hoped this issue would be resolved within the Shelby County Community, but when given this issue to deal with they have done so respectfully and methodically. Mr. Jarvis is a man of great integrity and has gone the extra mile to ensure he protects not only the school district he serves but the tax payers in his district. His research about this subject matter has taken a vast amount of time in an attempt to only provide factual information to potential voters. Macon is very lucky to have this man at the helm and I am proud to say he is my friend. Many horrible things have been said about Mr. Jarvis and our school board and I can tell you they are not at all warranted.
It is not my purpose in writing this letter to “campaign” for Yes votes for the redistricting, but I do think if it does happen it will be a great opportunity to welcome more people and students to our excellent school district and enhance our wonderful community.
If redistricting does occur, I can tell you the newly acquired students will see many great educational opportunities at Macon County R-1. As a parent of two children who flourished and graduated from Macon R-1, I can say we have some of the best educators in the state. After my two children graduated from college I asked them if they thought attending Macon School had prepared them for the academics in college and both told me “without a doubt”. The students from Clarence will be in good hands.
For those who oppose redistricting, I realize this has many emotional costs. I respect your opinion and do not discredit your position or efforts. I do think all of us need to accept each other’s points of view, be honorable, and most importantly pray about the decisions that are set to be decided on.
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