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Barnett addresses Referendum Failure 2020

NEW BETHLEHEM (RVO) – Following the recent failure of the Redbank Valley School District tax referendum, Mr. Jason Barnett has submitted a letter to the editor of RedbankValley.org for public consideration in his role as a member of the New Bethlehem area and Redbank Valley community.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, Mr. Jason Barnett, and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any agency of RedbankValley.org.

New Bethlehem PA - TechReady Professionals

New Bethlehem PA – TechReady Professionals

LETTER TO THE EDITOR:

“Dear Redbank Valley community,

Well, it seems the votes are in.  836 yes votes and 1248 no votes.  The referendum question to raise taxes to balance the current operating budget at Redbank Valley was voted down and as a result budget cuts have been enacted.

Elementary students of the Redbank Valley will no longer have an itinerant art or music teacher.  There will not be a librarian or library anymore.  6th grade will be moved to the high school.  Dean of students will be eliminated.  District-funded security will be eliminated (thankfully we did get the security grant which is allowing us to make some facility upgrades and provide some security staff for the coming school year).   Student participation fees will be doubled with no family limit and our Boosters are now required to fund 15% of the entire extracurricular budget (if they can’t raise enough funds we will have to cut extracurricular programs instead).

But after all this, we can still say “We have one of the lowest tax rates in the state” and will spend substantially less on education than the districts surrounding us.   I am not sure someone looking to move back to our area will place that above all else, but I hope they can still see the value in our community.  I hope as a community we can take a moment to pause and ask ourselves the question, “What would I look for in an area if I was deciding where to raise my family?”

During the referendum process, I saw and heard some incredibly troubling things, witnessed behavior that made me shake my head (from both sides of the argument), but I also saw some really awesome people step up and work together for the common good of this community.  I believe it is time for every person to ask themselves, “What have I done or will I do as a service to improve my community?”  Throughout the last 15 years, I have had the privilege to serve in a number of volunteer positions, including serving on non-profit boards, coaching youth sports, church, or some other community initiative.  Throughout the years I have met many new people, but it seems many of same people do most of the doing and volunteers are always in short supply.   I ask you to get involved and be part of the solution to improving our community.  We need to move away from the idea that it is always somebody else’s responsibility to fix our problems.

As I previously stated, whether the referendum passed or failed, I will do everything in my capabilities to ensure we provide the best educational program we can at Redbank Valley with the financial resources we have available.  It may not be ideal or be what we want, but it will be the best we can do with the resources we have.  We as a community made the choice not to fund this investment in our schools with tax dollars, so now we must accept that decision and move forward.  However, it does not mean we move forward and “Do Nothing”.  I ask you to please get informed, get involved, and be part of keeping our community and schools a great place to live and raise a family!

Keep your eyes open for information regarding the Redbank Valley Educational Foundation “coming soon”! To learn more about the Redbank Valley Education Foundation, please visit: RedbankValley.net/rvef

Sincerely,
Jason R Barnett, CPA

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, Mr. Jason Barnett, and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any agency of RedbankValley.org.

Letters to the editor can be submitted to [email protected]