Letter to the Editor: A double whammy for A-R
Apollo-Ridge school board hit property owners with a double whammy on June 26 and not only by their vote to increase expenditures to $22.9 million, thus setting in motion a 2.1 mill increase for Armstrong County property taxpayers and a 3.3 mill increase for Indiana County residents.
Unfortunately for struggling taxpayers, the board also chose to seek counsel from the National Education Association, an anti-traditional family liberal labor union, on the decision to hike the starting teacher’s salary from $31,000 to $35,000. This move did not reflect the economy of the dwindling Apollo-Ridge real estate tax paying population or its ability to pay.
The NEA is an outside policy driver that will feel no penalty from this decision, but taxpayers will.
To add pain to the taxpayers’ wounds, the adopted budget also includes unaffordable pay increases for administrative employees. This, in conjunction with the taxpayers’ continued debt burden for the elementary school and the noneducational football stadium, does not reflect a blossoming local economy prepared to pay more.
Look around. Not only do we hear that a McKeesport private sector tube company is shutting down due to its inability to compete with Chinese imports, but the Apollo-Ridge district and Armstrong County also have a depleted business and industry job base that leaves a limited population to fund these unjustified wage hikes.
To bring taxpayer relief, call our state representative and ask him to push for passage of House Bill 1722. This bill would help alleviate increasing pension costs since teacher layoffs, when necessary, will not be decided by seniority but by a teacher’s performance in the classroom.