Support the Niles Community Schools fund renewal

Published 8:48 am Thursday, October 20, 2016

When you go to the polls Tuesday, Nov. 8, please remember to turn the ballot over and vote “Yes” for the local school district proposal titled: “Niles Community Schools Millage Renewal Proposal Building and Site Sinking Fund Levy.”
If the renewal proposal is approved, it is important to note that this millage will not increase homeowners’ current tax rate.
For example, the owner of a $150,000 home will continue to pay $75 per year.
Once the sinking fund is renewed, the benefits to the community’s students will be great. The millage will help keep schools in good repair, leaving children and teachers with functioning buildings and more time to focus on academics.
Children attending schools in good repair have higher academic achievement, which is what we should strive for in Niles. There is no additional cost to taxpayers, but more importantly, the outcome of the renewal of the sinking fund will provide benefits for our students for years to come.
But what is a sinking fund?
It was created and approved by the voters in 2003 and renewed in 2008, for the purpose of setting aside money to allow the school district to improve facilities through critical projects that are not within the scope of the bond the Niles voters passed several years ago.
After the sinking fund is renewed, the money from the fund will be used for a number of repair and maintenance issues, including but not limited to: roof repair and replacements, repaving of parking lots, Niles High School athletic field and stadium improvements, enhanced lighting, traffic flow improvements, entrance ramp updates, technology infrastructure, and other interior and exterior repairs as needed.
Fortunately, the people of Niles know that educating students is at the very heart and core of our community. They also know that we have to make sure educational facilities are maintained and kept up-to-date and children have everything they need to maintain a stable, positive learning environment.
Keep in mind that updated and rejuvenated schools preserve and enhance property values for homeowners, so even those residents that don’t have a child in school benefit from the maintenance of our investments in the buildings and facilities of Niles Community Schools
Additionally, all of Niles is affected by what goes on in our classrooms and schools, as these children are our future and the long-term success and legacy of our community ultimately rests on their shoulders.
If Niles Community Schools did not maintain a sinking fund, necessary repairs and needed improvements would need to be included in future budgets, which may result in cuts having to be made in other critical areas such as instruction, curriculum and expensive facility maintenance.
We would indeed be irresponsible as voters if we did not vote to renewal the Niles Community Schools’ sinking fund.
This renewal will add nothing to our tax bills. It will allow the school system to save money by making badly needed improvements and repairs without dipping into the taxpayer-financed general fund budget.
Support our students, our schools and our future by voting “Yes” on the Sinking Fund Renewal Proposal.
For full disclosure, I am a trustee of the Niles Education Foundation and a graduate of Niles High School.

A native of Niles, Jack Strayer moved back home in 2009 after living and working in Washington DC since 1976. Strayer has served as a congressional staffer, state legislative press secretary, federal registered lobbyist and Vice President of the National Center for Policy Analysis. He is a nationally recognized expert on federal health policy reform and led the fight for the enactment of Health Savings Accounts (HSAs).