CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- "Two roads diverged in a yellow wood." This colorful fall, Kanawha County voters will be looking down two paths with the excess school levy. One path will lead some to vote "no" because the undergrowth of an increase in personal property tax has obscured their view. The other path, however, has the better claim: A better Kanawha County.
The schools provide the very foundation of education for the children, giving them the tools for future jobs and further education. If services have to be curtailed because of a "cap on the levy," the educational advantages to our students will also be capped. With higher costs of maintenance for older buildings, fuel for buses, and utilities, Kanawha County Schools will be forced to cap services.
We are not just capping our levy; we are capping our students and their futures. In a growing world of technology and achievement, Kanawha County Schools must be in the position to move our students right along with it. Kanawha County cannot be asked to provide a world-class education on a bargain-basement budget.
The library is the foundational resource for knowledge, providing access to both the realm of actual books and publications and the universe of the virtual world. Book costs increase each year. Just like the schools, the library's cost of technology continues to rise. The library must keep pace to offer the best community access to the full world of knowledge.
As a book lover, I know that a vote to keep the library and its branches in full operation is a cultural must. As a literature and art teacher for the past 11 years, I know that a vote to keep our schools in the best operational position is an educational must. Both are essential for Kanawha County's future.
Both of these institutions provide for a strong Kanawha County of the future. New businesses -- and old ones, for that matter -- must be able to locate here and to employ an educated work force. People moving here need to find a sound education system for their children. The resources of the library must be available for work, education, and pleasure.
A slight increase in taxes, yes, but keep the vote against the library and schools "for another day."
We cannot allow our children and community to be held hostage for the sake of keeping a little extra change in our pocket each week. A little weekly change is what the increase amounts to.
Let's keep Kanawha County on the grassy way for ages and ages hence, and vote "Yes." Yes, to a sound school system. Yes, to the access of knowledge. Yes, to a stronger Kanawha County. That will make all the difference.
Shamblin, of Charleston, is a teacher at Riverside High School, and a member of the Kids Education Yes Committee as an AFT-Kanawha representative.