Thursday, August 18, 2005

Seattle Schools Suffer Withdrawal

I'm shedding a tear for Seattle schools.
This fall, Ballard High School students will pay twice as much — $50 — for activity cards. Dances at Chief Sealth High School will cost more. And Rainier Beach High School may not have a yearbook.
"It's going to devastate us. It's going to absolutely devastate us," said Rainier Beach Athletic Director Dan Jurdy.
Why are all these horrible, unspeakable things happening to our schools? Well, thanks to a recent school board decision to ban the on-campus sale of junk food, schools have been denied access to the $315,000 per year teat of Coca-Cola. And just like a hungry baby pulled away from its mother's milk, the schools are throwing a bit of a tantrum.

Since the Seattle Times utterly failed to do so in their article, let's see if we can give this a little perspective. You know full well that if Coca-Cola was willing to bribe the school district with nearly 1/3 of a million dollars per year that they were making quite a pretty penny on their exclusive vending contract, probably in the millions of dollars. Where do you think Coca-Cola's profit was coming from, the snack-food fairy? No, it was coming straight from the kids' pockets, that's where.

how sadKeeping that in mind, let's do a little math. According to the Seattle School District's own website, there are 44,650 students enrolled in Seattle schools. Washington law requires 180 school days per year across the state. Therefore, if each student brought just four cents with them each day and put it in a jar instead of a vending machine, the schools would collect $321,480. Four lousy cents per day, $7.20 for a whole year. That'll break the bank, right there.

Of course, Coca-Cola's sugar and caffeine-stained money wasn't funding activities that all school children participate in, so that wouldn't really be a very fair arrangement. More fair would be to require the students that actually participate in the extra-curricular activities that are losing funding to *gasp* pay for them. Or maybe just cut back *gasp* programs that aren't popular enough to fund themselves.
Chief Sealth principal John Boyd said his school's yearbook needs to meet its budget this year, even if it means scaling back or including more black-and-white photos. He's also anticipating student dances and athletic banquets will cost more to attend.
Heaven forbid that students have to pay to participate in things that cost extra money and have nothing to do with—you know, education. Of course, one thing I've totally ignored to this point in the discussion is the issue of property taxes. What do property taxes have to do with Coca-Cola money? Property taxes are where the schools get most of their money in the first place. Have you taken a look at home prices around here lately? The Seattle real estate market is sizzling right now, with home prices making huge gains every year. When home prices go up, property taxes go up. When property taxes go up, schools get more money. I have a sneaking suspicion that the increases in tax revenue for the schools this year compared to last is a number much larger than $315,000. So where is the investigative reporting to find out what they're doing with all that extra money? Hmm.

Please join me in shedding a tear for Seattle schools.

Source: Seattle Times
image sourceCategories: News, Local


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