The Marin IJ reports that almost $3,000,000 in stimulus money Americans will help the public school district in Ross, California:
Ross School has won the federal stimulus fund lottery.
School officials learned Friday they would receive a $2.85 million school construction bond tax credit as part of the federal stimulus bill – a credit Superintendent Tammy Murphy believes will save Ross taxpayers $5.4 million in interest.
“We were so fortunate. It’s just a wonderful story,” Murphy said. “This would have been a 25-year term for our bond. Now we’ll be able to pay it off in 15 years at zero to little interest. It’s just great.”
Because so many applied for the limited funds, the state Department of Education held a lottery Friday, choosing 43 school districts and county offices to receive the funds. The single-school Ross Elementary District, which is overhauling Ross School at a total cost of $39 million, was the only district in Marin County to apply for the program.
Ross was smart to apply for funding, and I certainly can’t blame it for being lucky enough to win a random lottery. However, I think that you, as a taxpayer, should know a little bit about Ross.
Ross, in Central Marin County, California, is a small and very pretty town, with a population of about 2,300 people. The 2000 census reveals a little bit about that population. It’s lily white; heavy on the stable, two parent homes (although rumor has it that wife-swapping is big in the town); and rich, really, really rich. The median income for a family in Ross is around $102,000. That median number doesn’t quite do justice to the wealth oozing out of Ross, since it’s brought down by the 5-6% of the population who are poor — elderly people living in decaying mansions and students living in squalid apartments (because the College of Marin is in neighboring, and even more wealthy, Kentfield). A decade ago, Ross was the 20th richest town in America. Indeed, some of the richest people I’ve ever met in my life, including the single richest person I’ve ever met in my life, live in Ross. Here in Marin, its name is as synonymous with wealth as Kentfield, Belvedere and Tiburon, all of which are some of the richest communities in America.
What this means is that, even though the Ross School district is a public school that’s dependent on government funds, it also has an enormously wealth community shoring it up. The public schools in Ross, Kentfield, and Bel-Tib don’t look like any public schools you’ve ever seen. Thanks to generous support from families in the community, they have the same polished gloss that pricey private schools offer. The only difference is that, unlike private schools, Marin public schools are in thrall to the wacky curriculum mandates perpetually emanating from Sacramento. To give you an idea about the school’s high quality (despite those government diktats), I know several wealthy familes that, having looked at every private school within a 25 mile radius, concluded that their local public school was completely comparable, and would save them a tiresome commute.
Again, please understand that I don’t think the Ross School did anything wrong or that it should be forced to give the stimulus money back. Its administration was intelligently proactive in seeking funding for a legitimate construction project, and it won the money fair and square. Nevertheless, as a taxpayer being squeezed to death by an avaricious and incompetent government, I find it outrageous when I see my tax dollars go to one of the wealthiest communities in America. That type of wealth distribution reflects a profound failure in the way in which the federal government, which takes my money essentially at gunpoint, is managing that same money. It has nothing to do with stimulating the economy and everything to do with politics and bureaucracy as usual. Stories such as this should elicit outrage from taxpayers, outrage directed not at the lucky fund recipients, but at the federal government itself.
UPDATE: In a striking irony, today’s Marin IJ also reports about massive fund cuts to those in need:
Six years ago, Herschel Ferguson’s life took a devastating turn for the worse. The Santa Venetia resident, now 65, returned home from his San Francisco State internship, felt light-headed and passed out. He’d contracted acute disseminated encephalomyelitis and spent the next three months in the hospital, briefly slipped into a coma and lost feeling in his left arm. His memory often fails him.
Ever since, Ferguson has received 15 hours a week of assistance from a caregiver in his home through the In-Home Support Services program, which is funded by federal, state and county money and is facing a rash of cuts in the wake of the state budget deal reached last month. The cuts were supposed to have taken effect Sept. 1, but have been delayed indefinitely by the state.
“If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be able to get through life,” Ferguson said of his caregiver. “It gives me an idea of what day it is when she comes. I couldn’t get along without her.”
The IHSS program pays caregivers to help low-income elderly and disabled people whose needs range from bathing and grooming to laundry, shopping and meal preparation. More than 1,600 Marin residents receive such services through the program, and a comparable number of people provide them, according to Kara Beuerman, acting program manager for adult and aging services with the county of Marin. Roughly 250 recipients face losing those services; another 200-300 people could see their service reduced.
Read more here.
UPDATE II: As one of my friends commented, it’s staggering that the Department of Education was incapable of rousing itself to look at the various school district’s economic needs, as opposed to throwing things open to one giant, undifferentiated lottery. Do you really want a government that is this lazy and unresponsive to be in charge of your health care?