Iredell County is fortunate to have two excellent public school systems- the Iredell-Statesville Schools and the Mooresville Graded Schools. Both rank very highly compared to other schools in the state and region. Both are populated with dedicated, motivated professionals working in schools that offer an environment that is conducive to learning. The fact that we have such great schools is noticed by many who are considering a move to our area. Particularly important to all of us is that current and future employers know that good quality employees demand good quality schools for their children. So, even if you don’t currently have kids in our schools, you enjoy the benefits of our good schools through maintaining a healthy local economy, either directly through your employer or because those employes and businesses spend much of their money locally.
I point all of this out because earlier this week at a meeting in Mooresville, I heard Dr. Kenny Miller of the Iredell-Statesville Schools talk about the challenges our schools face now and in the future due to reduced tax revenues that pay for their operations. Dr. Miller noted that Iredell-Statesville Schools some years ago were only middling in performance, but have in the intervening years become one of the top systems in the state. They’ve managed to do that while their spending is among the lowest levels per student in the state. He asked all at the meeting to keep this in mind when the various governmental bodies talk about how taxes should be spent and where to make cuts, or even if taxes should be increased in order to maintain our schools’ performance.
It’s ironic that if we reduce spending on schools to help balance the budget, the eventual result could be to cause businesses to leave or not move here. By doing so, that would reduce our local tax revenues and put us in worse shape than before. Sometimes you have to focus beyond the short term to keep from “shooting yourself in the foot.”