Letter to the Editor: Referendum would support community

Published 9:47 pm Friday, September 23, 2022

We strongly encourage support of the upcoming Austin Public Schools levy referendum. As leaders who deeply care about our community, it’s clear that passing this referendum is critical to the future success of Austin.

First, the referendum is critical to the future success of our kids. We are strong believers in fiscal responsibility, and this levy request is both responsible and required to deliver the core services our kids need to succeed. For the last decade Austin has been fortunate that fiscal stewardship, increasing enrollment, and one-time COVID dollars have allowed APS to operate at an extremely low levy level of $42.70 per student. This is 95% lower than the Big 9 average and significantly behind even the next closest district. Unfortunately, this is not sustainable in today’s inflationary environment. If the levy request to increase to $470 per student (an average monthly impact of only $12 per home and still substantially below the Big 9 average of $870) is denied our schools will face a $3 million deficit. This will likely require substantial cuts to classrooms, sports, and arts that will have a devastating impact on our kids.

Second, the referendum is critical to the future of our local economy. The majority of Austin’s workforce comes from the local community, and APS is developing the future employees that our local businesses, service providers, non-profits, and churches depend on. A strong school system is also essential for attracting the new businesses and residents to Austin that expand our tax base. Investing in our students benefits everyone in Austin because it creates better entrepreneurs, police officers, nurses, electricians, mechanics, truck drivers, dentists, and so much more for our city.

Third, the referendum is critical to the future of our quality of life. Reams of research show the positive correlation between a strong school system and positive community outcomes. Educated kids are more likely to be civically engaged and volunteer in their community. Educated kids are also less likely to commit crimes or require government services and resources, so investing today saves taxpayers substantial amounts in the future.

The bottom line is that supporting the APS levy referendum is critical to the future success of Austin. Great schools are one of the pillars of a great city. Voting YES will positively benefit our kids, our local economy, and our quality of life. As community leaders who care deeply about the future of Austin we strongly encourage you to Vote YES on Nov. 8.

City Councilman Geoff Baker

City Councilman Mike Postma

City Councilman Jason Baskin