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OPINION: Don’t listen to the dark money group attacking school levy

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Opinion writer Charlotte Caldwell argues that a dark money campaign attacking a proposed Athen’s school levy is fraught with misinformation, and that the levy is important for the school district.

On July 31, 2018, the Athens School Board voted to put a levy on November’s ballot that would build all-new schools in Athens, a feat that seems a little daunting and apparently not worth it to a group called Students for Athens Education.

The website created by this group states that it is paid for by Heartland America, Inc and accurately reflects their attitude on bettering the future of education for Athens children, which includes only one page with bland text, a few pictures, and appalling statements.

The first paragraph of the website boasts that “There are better plans for Athens education. Better for you, too” and from there lists things that stereotypical college students could be buying instead, like pizza and beer.

Not only does this not describe the majority of college student’s budget, but the site also never lists the “better plans for Athens education” that could result from voting no on this levy that they stated so confidently in the beginning. In fact, the site contradicts itself in the end by saying that if students vote no, then “that will encourage a smarter [plan] to come along,” even though it was implied that there already was a better plan.

This selfish group of individuals even have the audacity to write at the end, “Citizens for Athens Education is not against a levy to better our schools. Just this levy,”  as if that improves the blanket statements they just laid out on the rest of the page. These people have no consideration for the children in Athens trying to receive a proper education in crumbling school buildings and the many dangers associated with them, only how much it is supposed to cost them in “rent.”

Many Athens City School facilities are in disrepair, as reported by The Athens News in September. The pictures taken by the reporter on the tours of the buildings clearly show tricky problems like flimsy partition walls to separate classrooms, water damage, and a broken HVAC system, to name a few. The conditions of the buildings are unavoidable and cause distractions to students forced to be in the buildings five days a week, pushing the move for the levy.

The Athens School Board is trying to do everything they can in order to make the levy cheaper for Athens residents, but if this levy is put off any longer, the problems of the schools will start to require immediate attention, ultimately costing the district more money than just building a new school.

Currently, $206 for every $100,000 in property value per Athens renter seems like a lot, but it may decrease once the levy takes effect, and is a small price to pay for a child’s education. If these students would take a second to stop and look at how their previous education got them to where they are today, they would see the value of this levy, and how it is only trying to provide for our nation’s future leaders.

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