City or Schools?

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    There is no doubt that the incorporation of the City of Central was fueled by this community’s desire to form a school system.  It is also clear to me that the ability of both our City’s elected officials and our School System’s elected officials to work cooperatively with each other is critical for the long-term success of both entities.
    The relationship between the Central Community School System and the City of Central itself can be confusing, and for good reasons.  Each governing body is elected by a slightly different group of voters, and the City and the School System are required by law to make decisions that are in the best interests of those citizens they represent.  I know many of our readers are aware of the differences between our City and School System, but for those who are not, here are the highlights.
    Separate Governing Bodies – In a nutshell, the City can’t tell the School System what to do, and the School System can’t tell the City what to do.  They have zero authority over one another.  The best example would be to think of these two the same way you would the City of Central and the City of Lafayette.  These two cities are obviously separate.  However, in the case of our City and Schools, most of the citizens of Central are also citizens of the Central School District.  Thus, it is very important that they work together.
    Different Representatives – Our City is governed by a mayor and five city council members, all elected at large.  Our School System is governed by seven school board members elected in seven separate districts, one from each district.  City Council meetings are held on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month, and School Board meetings are held on the second and fourth Mondays.  All meetings are open to the public.
    Different Boundaries – Simply stated, the City is everything between the Amite and Comite Rivers with a northern boundary of Highway 64, while the School System has virtually all of that territory plus the homes on the other side of the Comite River to Foster Road.  So there are a group of citizens across the river and a few along Highway 64 that are affected differently by the decisions of each governing body.
    Different Income Sources and Budgets – The City exists primarily on 2% of the sales taxes we pay and does not collect any property taxes.  The School System runs on 2.5% of our sales taxes plus several property taxes, in addition to state and federal funding based on student population.  Once these monies are collected, the City budgets and spends its money on anything from roads and drainage to inspections and public safety.  The School System budgets and spends its money on educating children and building and maintaining school facilities.
    With all of this said, I come full circle to the need to work together.  With virtually all of the citizens of the City of Central also being citizens of the Central Community School System, I believe it is incumbent on our elected officials first to fulfill the duties of their elected office, but also to work together to find solutions that serve both our City and our Schools.  That would be Good News for a Great Community.