I write to urge all citizens of Fayette County to vote in favor of the upcoming bond issue in support of Fayette County Schools. A vote in favor of the bond advances many county interests in addition to the most important interest: The quality of education for our children in Fayette County. Failure to pass this bond will make it more difficult, if not impossible, to finance a needed restructuring in the educational system in Fayette County in the future.

While the benefits of the passage of the school bond appear obvious, the disadvantages of rejection are more subtle but no less important. Failure to pass this bond has the following devastating impacts:

• It puts Fayette County students at an educational disadvantage when job hunting and attending post-secondary programs.

• It discourages businesses from locating in Fayette County because they distrust the educational system. Conversely, it discourages existing businesses from hiring students for the same reason.

• It discourages families from locating in Fayette County because they are concerned about the quality of education.

• It results in families opting out of public education and pursuing other options. The resulting fewer students in the public system reduces the county's overriding share of the state's funding formula.

• The inevitable withdrawal of students from public education threatens the future of public education and the backbone of our democratic ideals which depend upon an educated public.

• As we can all attest, the cycle of population loss, business uncertainty and concerns about our educational system all result in our children and grandchildren leaving this area for greener pastures.

• It will reduce the cultural life and ultimately the quality of life in Fayette County.

If we continue to defund education in Fayette County, we risk higher costs in the future with a lower tax base. As businesses and families choose not to locate in Fayette County, our tax base will continue to erode. As more families withdraw from the system, we will receive less and less funding from the state, which represents something close to seventy percent (70%) of the county's annual educational budget. Clearly, these factors (which have been at work for many years) will continue to make it more difficult to generate adequate funding for restructuring Fayette County's system in the future.

The time has come to take action. We are at a crossroads in a county that has been dramatically changing population-wise and economy-wise for many years but our adjustments as a county have been minor and unremarkable. It is now time to move on, give up the old ways and set a new standard of excellence.

A vote for the bond issue is a vote for the children of Fayette County. It is not a panacea but is a major step in the continuing effort to achieve educational excellence in Fayette County.

Phil Tissue

Lansing

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