Patrick Ryan of Niceville says a potential sales tax increase to benefit the Okaloosa School District would go over better with taxpayers if they were given the choice of appointing rather than electing a school superintendent.

After a leadership scandal costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars - and possibly millions more in lawsuits - some Okaloosa County politicians now say it’s more urgent for our School Board to hold a sales tax increase referendum for infrastructure improvements - rather than poll voters about reform via a superintendent selection method referendum. They want that referendum postponed a few years. That certainly won’t go over well with local voters.


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How did our school infrastructure get to be in such bad shape? The obvious answer ... poor strategic planning under an elected superintendent! That’s FAR more likely when the superintendent and school board don’t share the same agenda but must consider electoral politics, as is often the case with an elected superintendent.


What’s REALLY urgent is structural reform so this doesn’t happen again! That’s how to gain the voters' trust so they’ll agree to a tax increase. The board can do it by holding the selection method referendum in August and sales tax referendum in November. But will they?


YES For Okaloosa Schools is not advocating for or against a sales tax referendum. We must, however, point out that voters will be much more agreeable to a sales tax hike if the School Board gives them the opportunity to decide on structural reforms FIRST. Voters rightly insist their tax dollars be wisely spent.


It’s bad enough that politicians in Washington, D.C. refuse reforms like term limits while always finding new ways to spend our tax dollars. Can we afford the same scheme here at home?


Patrick Ryan, Niceville