Letter to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

Friday, April 1, 2011

To the Editor:

I am a lifetime educator of 41 years, many of which have been enjoyed in Fort Scott schools. You can count on three fingers the number of times I have written a letter to the editor, but my heart and mind have been calling me to write now.

I have taught thousands of kids, coached thousands of young athletes and directed or coordinated countless participants in recreational ventures. I have observantly witnessed the early developmental years, the intermediate maturing years and the golden years of our citizens and have made an informed opinion about what we all seem to desire in life. We compete for a satisfying "quality of life."

Towns like Fort Scott exist in a competitive arena where attracting citizens by offering a satisfying quality of life theme is paramount. Without this theme for its citizens, a town stagnates, disappears or becomes only a bedroom community where people may be housed there but travel outside for their quality of life ventures.

For many years, Fort Scott has fared pretty well by attracting citizens here through offering a good quality of life for them and their families. The things people look at are the school system, the level of medical care, the business and job market and recreational offerings. Each of these are vitally important and interwoven for a healthy town to thrive. I no longer have children in the Fort Scott school system, but I support it as a vital element in our town, now and in the future. I do not use our medical care system in Fort Scott daily, but it is nice to know that I can go to Mercy or Urgent Care, or seek chiropractic care without leaving the city. I do not do a lot of business daily here, but it is nice to know that if I need to buy something, some business here offers it to me without leaving Fort Scott. I do not use our swimming pool or Buck Run daily, but it is nice to know that they are offered in town for me, as well as all citizens whenever the desire or need arises.

I know our national economic picture has affected us here in Fort Scott as well, but to continue any decent quality of life here, we must look toward maintaining and upgrading what we have. To fail to do so will lead to our town's demise sooner than we may think. Cuts are being made in budgets at the national, state and local level, but we cannot afford to ignore quality of life issues.

Schools and cities are both trying to cut budgets to survive, but there is a point of diminishing returns. If we cut things too much, we begin to lose students or citizens who move to schools or towns that provide the things needed for a favorable quality of life. If we lose citizens, we lose what those citizens bring to a city, plus we cannot recruit new citizens if we cannot offer pleasant quality of life features. If a school cuts some popular program like debate or softball to save money but loses enough students to a neighboring school district that offers debate and softball, the savings could be less than what they lose by losing students. For example, a school might save $25,000 with program cuts but lose $55,000 in educational aid after students decide to go to another school to debate or play softball.

If a town cuts important programs or does not offer quality of life features, it loses citizens and their families and hinders new citizens from wanting to relocate there with their families. A town without quality schools, without quality health care, without quality business and job opportunities, or without quality recreational opportunities cannot and will not retain citizens and will not be able to recruit new citizens because they are competing with towns that may offer quality of life features.

Even though we in Fort Scott have good schools and good health care, we tend to lag behind many communities in job and recreational opportunities. Soon we have a chance ot vote for a proactive initiative to help fund some needs in Fort Scott with the aquatic center and Buck Run renovations. My head and heart tell me that this is an opportunity to address a dire need that this town has. Hopefully, in addressing another quality of life need, we can create a more appealing quality of life tenet that makes Fort Scott more competitive in the recruitment venue for new and quality citizens and help our job market. Other area towns have made powerful initiatives to offer a premium quality of life to citizens. My vote is "yes" to improve the Fort Scott appeal through recreational and healthy lifestyle improvements.

Tom W. Davis

Fort Scott

To the Editor:

I appreciate the Tribune covering the candidate forum Tuesday night. However, I would like to clarify my quote used in the paper. I believe a mill levy increase is a tool of last resort, and much of this discussion hinges on education funding from the state. Before we ever consider a tax increase, we must cut every unnecessary item from the budget.

My intention was to convey that we must maintain the great teachers that we have currently, and in the future we need to be able to attract the best applicants. I have visited with several of our local administrators about solutions to the budget issue, and I know they all have ideas which will be examined and possibly implemented. We need to exhaust all of these solutions before proposing a mill levy increase, but I feel it would be irresponsible for me to say that it will never be an option.

Jordan Witt

Fort Scott