Guest Column: Kathryn Lorenz
I’ve been a Loveland school board member since 1991 and just prior to being elected, I was a chairperson of the bond issue campaign that earned us our “new” high school. Over these past 28 years, I’ve seen quite a few operating levies and a couple of bond issues, almost all of which have been supported by our Loveland community. None of them have been small or seemed completely fair. “Why not?” might be the question.
First of all, Loveland has a predominantly residential tax base. This means that the tax burden is mostly borne by homeowners, whether their houses are large or small, whether their incomes are growing or fixed, whether they are employed or retired, whether they have school age children or not. And tax collections, once approved, can’t grow with increased valuation of property or additional homes or additional students in the district. So tax levies and bond issues, which are very big questions for voters, have a lot of inherent inequity, regardless of the number of mills involved. They can seem unfair to taxpayers just as the state funding model appears unfair to the school district.
Furthermore, tax levies are always a big deal. There has never been, in any of the years that I have been a board member, a tax issue that was proposed lightly or without consideration for the taxpayers of the district. Every levy has been considered through the lens of the current economy, the promises made in previous levies, the real needs of the district and the fiscal soundness of the uses proposed for the taxes to be collected.
Questions about the levy/bond issue shouldn’t be feared, nor should there be anger. Some questions are answered by board vote or information on the website. Some questions cannot be answered because they concern actions that the board has not yet been able to consider or take. The board is consistently trying to get information out and into the hands of our citizens.
Each board member is a Loveland taxpayer. That doesn’t make it any easier to ask more tax dollars of our families, neighbors or fellow citizens. We all know what we committed to in becoming a board member and we take our responsibility very seriously. Our job is to oversee the provision of a safe and adequate education for all the children of our community. We strive further for excellence in Loveland education and we believe our community deserves no less.
Over the years that I have been a board member, enrollment in our schools has more than doubled. I imagine that you have seen Loveland schools get bigger and stronger and yes, better. This progress can only be due to the work of our whole community – citizens, parents, teachers, students. We, the community as a whole, expect great things from our schools and we have overwhelmingly supported the district in these past years. During this time, we have seen districts all around us struggle and communities as a whole suffer, often taking many years to recover from failed support of their schools.
Let’s never take for granted what we have in Loveland today. It has taken tremendous effort to get here and will take resources to maintain our place. We are at a truly important moment and there is really no option for us other than to rely on support on Election Day to keep our schools running and improving. An investment is necessary.
This Board of Education has respectfully presented a big picture. A big ask. It is based on needs of space and programs. We are beyond capacity but not beyond our abilities. Please consider carefully the issue that is on the November 5th ballot. Our students and their futures deserve no less.
Kathryn Lorenz is a Loveland School Board member. She is Professor Emerita of French at the University of Cincinnati, and the mother of two Loveland graduates and the grandmother of three current Loveland school students