Kent Bonacki: Tying Education Funding To Property Taxes

How It Results In Unequal Opportunities For Teachers And Students

Have you ever wondered about the state of our public education and why our children are faring poorly compared to education systems in other countries? The answer lies in the way we fund our schools. It’s less than adequate and more conducive to disparities in society as it limits young people’s chances of building a better future for themselves.

Kent Bonacki is a grant writer and researcher at Park City School District. He has a proven track record as a successful project manager who understands the importance of communication and planning to ensure a project’s efficacy. “The problem with tying education funding to property taxes,” he says, “is that how much resources each school gets depends on its zip code. A child lucky enough to attend a school in an affluent neighborhood gets a better-funded education than another child who grows in a poorer district.”

The Unpopular Taxes

Property taxes have always been a thorn in the side of every homeowner. They are a touchy topic that politicians usually tend to steer away from, whether when they’re stumping or when they take office. Property taxes are considered to be unpopular for a reason. People think it’s unfair to pay taxes for a property especially when that property is unused or doesn’t bring any revenue to its owner.

But if property taxes are not fair to the property owners, their applications have graver and far unjust consequences as well. According to Kent Bonacki, the reason politicians still like property taxes despite its unpopularity is that part of the revenue goes to funding public schools in every district, county, and state. It’s a system that has been in place since colonial times and all attempts to uncouple school funding from property taxes have failed; which leaves us in the kind of situation we are today.

Low Property Value, Less Tax

Since local towns run public schools, they get the majority of their education funding from the local property taxes. You can guess where this is going. If a district has a low property value, that means the town will get fewer taxes. This in effect means the education budget for that same district will be smaller than another district where property value is much higher.

“The impact on our school systems is devastating and far-reaching,” says Kent Bonacki. “Put in simple terms, one school might receive $5,000 in funding per student, while another school in a poorer county might only see $2000 per student.” Is it any wonder that some of our public schools don’t have enough resources to buy student supplies and instead rely on teachers paying out of pocket?

Unequal Opportunities

But it’s not just about lack of student supplies. The quality of education as a whole varies from one school to the next across the country. And it affects everyone in the education system from students to teachers and administrators. “When it comes to teachers,” says Kent Bonacki, “the temptation to find a job at a well-funded school in a rich neighborhood is high.” And it’s not just about financial compensation. Teachers prefer to work in a school where students have got books on their desks, have a functioning gym, and a budget for field trips and extra-curricular activities. A school that has enough resources to provide good quality education has a higher rate of graduation. Its students will have a better chance of getting into college than those attending a public school in a poor neighborhood.

Kent Bonacki concludes that these inequalities that start at school, linger on and affect the future of the young people for generations to come and without a conscious effort to improve the system, nothing will improve.

Kent is a Technical Writer and Project Manager to pay the bills, but also writes creatively when he has the time. Lives in Salt Lake City and a bit outdoorsy.