Second school not in Juneau's interests

Posted: Tuesday, February 03, 2004

I'm against the building of the new high school. Before you start to think I'm a public-education-hating right-winger, hear me out: The proposed new high school will add huge property tax, sales tax and fund-raising burdens to our community.

All of these new costs will particularly burden low-income earners. Property taxes don't just go to land owners; they trickle down to renters, particularly young high school and college graduates like me, with a mobile lifestyle and few roots or financial security. For young, idealistic innovators like myself, it's hard to get a good sales-taxed meal and pay my $600-plus monthly rent.

I talk to some Juneau old-timers who came here during the oil boom in the '70s and '80s. They tell me of those exciting times, and how everyone was young and wanted to try new things. We still have some good things left from those times; KTOO public radio, Perseverance Theatre, the Folk Festival, Public Market ... all bedrocks of the Juneau community - events, art, innovation.

Now those '70s Juneauites have kids and mortgages. They got a little older. The innovation from previous times has turned into a repetitive churning out of new ballots and tax initiatives.

Arguments about booming enrollment at Juneau-Douglas High School and overcrowding was based on the assumption that Juneau would be an attractive, affordable place to live for families. Instead, it's becoming harder with tough housing and rent, local taxes and an aging workforce.

The people who worked hard on this project deserve credit for trying to fill a perceived need in our community. However, a new high school will continue the imbalance of serving those under 18 and over 40, but forgetting everyone in-between. Juneau would leave behind the innovation, talented workforce and economic juice which young groundbreakers provide. Let's serve all of Juneau.

Ishmael Hope


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