Tuesday, April 26, 2011

PSD - The Intermediate Unit


  Local interest in school affairs is an effort to be applauded. Local interest, I'm afraid, is looking for a
process modification locally that will make a significant change in how our schools function better and how they are more equitably funded. I suggest the true answer lies not locally in process but rather further out, regionally, in a policy change.
  I advocated for a legislative change to remake local districts into countywide districts. I rescind this advocacy here and now. 
  The state legislature in 1971 formulated the Intermediate Unit System which divided the entire state into 29 regions of relative equality. Each region provides support services to the 501 school districts in the state which they serve.
  We should vigorously lobby our legislators to broaden the roll of the existing Intermediate Units by giving them, along with other duties, the power to tax - eliminate the local property tax from that power - and equitably fund schools in their districts. Further, the state would rescind all local school district's ability to tax. The need to regionalize in 1971 was apparent then, now that need to expand the function of scale inherent in regionalization is more necessary than ever. 
  If you are old in Pottstown and on a fixed income while owning your own home your time is running out before you're forced to move because you can not pay your taxes. This should not happen in the 21St Century.
  My idea in Countywide districts was based on a means to spread out the burden of funding education to rich and poor districts where collected taxes would be accumulated and then distributed equally among each district according to their individual student population numbers. In the Intermediate Unit System already exists regionalization and structure sufficient to quickly implement a much needed change. The original thought behind The Intermediate Unit, I suggest, was a legislative attempt to bring schools out of an agrarian model and into a more modern formation. 
  Legislators will react if they realize they are improving on earlier legislation tested through time to be effective though now outmoded. Mergers will probably come and maybe 3000 students is the critical mass necessary to be efficient. In my mind, tinkering with local process is just in the end tinkering ; changing policy at the State level is the key to meaningful education reform.

Ronald C. Downie

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