Nothing ticks off a property owner faster than a school district raising taxes to cover extravagant expenses.

Things like "Taj Mahal" buildings, artificial turf athletic fields, laptop computers for every child -- those are examples of wants, not needs.

And taxpayers have every right to be upset if school boards even bring them up.

"Why aren't they being as frugal as I am?" is a legitimate question.

Just as it's reasonable -- while not necessarily welcome -- when school boards raise taxes to protect basic education.

The Northeastern school board last month passed a resolution to stay within its state-assigned 2.3 percent tax cap, even if it meant doing away with its full-day kindergarten program.

To its credit, the board reconsidered this week, agreeing to seek exceptions from the state to go over the threshold enough to prevent a switch to half-day kindergarten.

Kindergarten is not an extravagance.

Studies have shown students who attend kindergarten are better prepared for the academic years ahead and are more likely to graduate than students who didn't get an early start on their education.

Half-day kindergarten is better than nothing, but students in full-day classes are exposed to more subjects, have more instructional time and generally make greater strides, according to research.


Just a week before the Northeastern school board had its change of heart, President Barack Obama announced in his State of the Union address a major initiative to expand early childhood education, including greater access to full-day kindergarten.

"Study after study shows the achievement gap starts very young," the president said. "We all pay a price for that. This is not speculation."

The Northeastern school board now has an option -- nothing's locked in -- to raise taxes as high as 3.6 percent, meaning an $87 tax increase for a $100,000 homeowner.

That's nothing to sneeze at, especially for homeowners on tight budgets.

There certainly will be more discussions before the budget deadline in June, and some items might still be on the chopping block.

For instance, the vote that saved full-day kindergarten also allows the district to keep its high school pool open. The board was considering closing it for cost savings.

Is the pool a want or a need?

Some taxpayers are likely to bring that up again.

Hopefully they all can agree a good early education is a necessity.