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Kids or No Kids: School Board Elections Hit Your Bottom Line

Amy Latta for Francis Howell Forward

Whether or not you have kids in your local school district, the April 2nd school board election hits you where it likely matters most: your money. In fact, every $1 spent on school funding,  yields approximately $20 in increased property values. That’s because a key predictor of an area’s property values is what incoming families want for their kids’ education. Since 71% of families choose their local school district over private or charter schools, Francis Howell competes with our surrounding districts for young home buyers.

SchoolMint (a popular online enrollment/communication platform for public, charter, and private schools) reports young families want an educational experience that prepares their kids for collaboration in a technologically advanced and culturally diverse workforce. One survey from 2022 showed young families ranked teacher quality, safety and security, and convenience as their top priorities in choosing their district.

Young families aren’t looking for basics; they look for better than basics, We all want to give our kids the best—qualified and supportive teachers certified in the most up-to-date educational models, well-equipped schools with technology resources for all students, modern facilities to support learning, and an environment that welcomes and celebrates them.

Unfortunately, our current board members and their endorsed candidates do not recognize the value of investing in public schools. At the recent candidate forum, Adriana Kuhn said:

So right now I don't see a need for a tax levy or an increase in our revenue. Or also, we have, um, a lot of things that bring in revenue to our schools. It is property values, which I, um, the St. Charles County Realtors Association cannot endorse for their policy, but I did receive a financial donation from them because they believe I am the best candidate to preserve property values here in Francis Howell. So that's one thing I wanted to share.

A school board touting fiscal responsibility should lean into our strengths in diversity and promote a culture welcoming of families from all backgrounds. We could be celebrating a brand new high school and sending our teachers to national conferences to stay up to date on best practices in education research. Instead, the current school board has been focused on nothing but culture wars. As formal complaints of racial discrimination in FHSD schools were increasing, the board majority (the FHSD5) made national headlines for rescinding a Resolution Against Racism and Discrimination, and for objections to standards in Black History and Black Literature electives for high school students. 

Recent events, including the death of Nex Benedict in Oklahoma and the doxing of a student by a state school board member in Utah, have intensified concerns for our LGBTQ+ youth, but 

every one of the FHSD5 campaigned on promises to end “indoctrination” and a return to a back-to-basics approach, rejecting social-emotional learning. The use of technology was also questioned when they rejected a resource adoption, concerned it relied too heavily on digital resources. They have even drafted new bathroom protocols (one addressing cat litter conspiracy theories) and questioned the use of preferred pronouns. One board member described teachers as “groomers” and strengthened a policy against teacher “activism” when he learned a teacher invited a student to speak at a board meeting.

Meanwhile, neighboring school boards have committed to funding quality, updated resources/facilities and promoting cultural awareness.

As we prepare to vote  for two new FHSD board members on April 2nd two things are important:

First, vote. Show up for your neighborhood, your neighbors’ kids, and likely your biggest investment.

Second, vote less for the latest social media fight of the day, and more for what incoming families are looking for—a school district providing a diverse and safe educational experience for all kids in the community.


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