Lighting the fire

[John P. Flannery appeared before the BOS on St. Patty’s Day to argue for full funding -

John P. Flannery appeared before the BOS on St. Patty’s Day to argue for full funding

There was an Irish poet, William Butler Yeats, who wrote that education is “not the filling of a bucket but the lighting of a fire.”

What should we spend as a government to spur a child to learn, and perhaps to “catch fire?”

Last year, we had a public discussion about full funding for our schools, and yet, here we are again, after an election, seemingly surprised that it’s going to cost us more again to get it right, and we are debating, once more, “Should we fully fund our schools?”’

Of course, we should. Spend the 2 cents!

We are prepared to fully fund everything else in the budget, at $1.15, but we’re hesitating about spending the funds on education, at $1.17, begrudging the 2 cents.

Our County invited families from far and wide to come to live with us in Loudoun County, and promised services if they did so.

Are we now going to say, forget it?

We have a “huge” inventory of real property. We started with $65.7 Billion in 2014, added 4.6 Billion by 2015, and we’re going to add, we estimate, another 2.9 Billion dollars in real property this year.

We’ve got lots of people tied up in that inventory of property.

We are now about 364,000 Loudounians. But we increased by 50,000 from 2010 to 2015, and will grow another 50,000 people by 2020

Among all these people on all this property, we have school age children, and that’s why operating our schools is 57% of our County’s entire budget.

Some partisans insist it’s a core value, a matter of principle, not to increase taxes.

Tell your phone service your bill is greater than you expected, and you expect to pay less.

The principle here is, as a government and a people, that we meet our obligations. Or we lose trust at home and for those we would wish to join us in Loudoun, commercial and residential.

It doesn’t help that we have “representatives” going to Richmond who talk about home rule here, but down by the James River they would give Richmond bureaucrats control over our charter schools (I’m talking about Delegates David LaRock and Randy Minchew).

They also proposed a gimmick that would put our public schools at risk – “parental choice education savings accounts” (again, Delegates LaRock and Minchew)(HB 2238).

Their shenanigans should have nothing to do with the action as a governing body of the Loudoun Board of Supervisors.

During this year’s discussion of the budget, several Members of the Board asked, in words or substance, “how did we get our projections ‘so out of whack.’ ”

Forecasting is often inductive and, by definition, doesn’t account for what’s never happened before.

Of course, we did know enrollment increased by 33% in the last eight years, and special programs have required a lot more services.

How is it that some members of this Board are seriously considering funding every other function in the County fully at a rate of $1.15, but won’t give 2 cents more to fully fund education?

We must pay those 2 cents because, while education costs, it also pays, in the quality of life for each of our children, allowing them to contribute more generally to the common wealth, by the gifts education may nurture and the fires it may light today.

Edward Abbey said, “Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul.” The Board can save it’s soul. If it makes the rate $1.17!