To the Editor,
While residential building is increasing across our county, to the delight of many in the real estate and construction industry, the cost of the public infrastructure required to support it is increasing as well, Education is a large percentage of that cost, but, un-like many government expenditures, providing an attractive educational environment creates value both inside and outside the classroom. Scholastic achievement, program choice, diversity in school size and location increases demand for housing, which raises property values and tax revenue without increasing the tax rate but in order to realize this benefit to the property owner, schools must be constructed, maintained and staffed in the first place and, unfortunately, our education system remains under-funded.
To their credit, the County Commission saw fit to increase teacher supplements by .5% in the current budget, but much more needs to be done, both to support our teachers and improve facilities.
Beverly Hills Elementary, currently under threat of closure, and the other small schools in downtown Concord are in dire need of replacement. Residents in the established communities these districts serve have subsidized school construction and other costs of growth throughout the county for years, so replacing their schools, not consolidating them or sending their students to a school outside of their district, is well deserved.
We can have great teachers, great facilities, great educational options and build a place where people want to live and businesses want to locate, but it takes public investment and support. Tax rates aren’t everything: Low taxes coupled with under-funded infrastructure, poor educational opportunities, limited educational choice, and the lack of capacity to build a skilled work force is not sustainable, and if Cabarrus County decides to compete on price rather than quality, it is a race to the bottom.