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Tax revolt may produce unintended consequences

First of all, I wish to disclose that I am a retired teacher, having worked for 33 years in a local high school. To supplement my huge pension (no health care provided), I worked as an adjunct at a community college for laughable wages (and no benefits) for the past 12 years. I do have a bias, but nevertheless would like to address Donn Esmonde’s column about what he portrays as a tax revolt in Clarence.

Am I incorrect, or didn’t families with children, many of whom are living in houses that are among the most expensive in this area, choose this location because of, among other important reasons, the quality of the schools? Of course, some of Clarence’s residents transport their children to private schools and many senior citizens flock to expensive patio homes or condominiums so they can pay less tax. Are these the people balking at the tax increase?

“As many as 100 of whom [teachers] in Clarence make upward of $90,000 a year,” is another of Esmonde’s reasons for why people have voted down the school budget. Really, what is $90,000 after 25 years in a profession? Especially when you live in a community where hockey and football players make millions, and bank presidents are paid more millions in severance to leave their positions. Aren’t the senior people who educate the future leaders of this country worth the money they are paid? Don’t residents think that some of the teachers at least could afford to live in their midst? Of course, they have a right to expect the teachers to be excellent, so pay them accordingly.

The reactionary group in Clarence may have won a victory in its effort to curb educational property tax. There are effective measures that could cut costs and I am sure the Board of Education will come up with a viable alternative. In a few years, will Clarence still be one of those communities that people point to with pride in its position as a leader, or will it start falling by the wayside because its schools have been decimated by deep cuts? The revolt may achieve more than it bargained for.

Ronald J. Cohen

East Amherst