To the editor:

In my 50 years, nearly all of it has been involved with agriculture.

Every day farmers get up with a sense of pride in what they do, a sense of satisfaction in feeding the world and a sense of peace that what they do is not about the money, it is about the pride they take in their work.

The proposed tax increase to help with changes in the school corporation stand to impact the local agriculture community in a way that it may never bounce back from.

For the past several years, there has been additional stress on teachers and support staff in regard to job security and job location with the continually closing of buildings. Teachers and support staff have spent their late winters and early springs fearing for job security as jobs have been cut in an effort to cut costs.

With the recent 2-percent pay increase for all administration, the top 12 administration jobs at Jay Schools will account for $1,057,794. The top position will be paid more than $120,000. This one individual pay rate will be higher than governors of 20 states. Staff and programs have been or are being cut that educate the students every day.

Going forward, the administration has looked at a $20-million project. The closing of Pennville, Judge Haynes and next General Shanks Elementary School, we have been told will save several hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. Yet the next project will cost $20 million. This is on top of the millions recently spent on remodeling East and General Shanks elementary schools.

Recently, the decision was made to consider raising property taxes by $2.90 per acre to help repay the $20 million bond. Consider what this means to one of Jay County’s highest job providers — farmers. Farms of 250 acres to 1,000 acres will see a rise of $725 to $2,900.

The 100 Indiana Department of Environmental Management-approved confined feeding operations, they could see a rise of $4,500.

For a year like we have just completed, even with lower prices, a record-setting yield has allowed farmers to make a slight profit. Consider what farmers made this year, then compare that to a year when yields are down due to weather factors, and land taxes will be higher.

By the end of 20 years the increased tax rate could force many farmers out of business and keep many multi-generation farms from continuing.

The time has come for the entire community to get involved with the future changes within Jay Schools. This is not a matter of whether or not you currently have kids in the school system. The plans going forward will impact every land owner in the county. We must all care and be involved in the education of the next generation. It is time to offer ideas and help consider alternatives to additional spending and borrowing. Cutting staff and especially programs that help the kids is not doing our children any justice. We need to allow the staff all the resources and programs available to prepare all children for a productive life. Approach your discussions with respect and courtesy, but get involved and be willing to speak up.

I joined the Jay County Farm Bureau a year ago, and part of the reason I joined was to be able to help advocate for local and state farming and agriculture. This week, Jay County Farm Bureau will sponsor an event where all local farmers, land owners and concerned citizens will be invited to discuss how the proposed rate increase will affect the farming community. Representatives from the school will be invited, and the hope is for everyone to gather and work together to consider alternatives. The hope is that while we all support our school and the best education possible for kids today and the future, we must take into consideration how this will affect the entire community.

Many of our kids come back and join or get involved on the farm operation here in the county. Let’s make sure that operation is still available for that next generation to come back to.

C. Dru Mercer

Rural Bryant

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Editor’s note: After this letter was submitted, but before it was able to appear in print, Jay School Board was presented with a plan that could reduce the proposed bond from about $20 million to $9.77 million. Doing so would shift the tax increase on farmers from $2.90 per acre to $1.31 per acre.