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Much ado about uniforms

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By Meaghan Downs

Made in America.
Not so much anymore.
This week in self-righteous Washington anger, some decided to take a strong, opinionated stance on an issue that affects all Americans:
No, not tax cuts for more the middle class.
Uniforms.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada didn’t mince words when giving his opinion to the press: “I am so upset. I think the Olympic committee should be ashamed of themselves. I think they should be embarrassed. I think they should take all the uniforms, put them in a big pile and burn them and start all over again.”
The fact that “all-American” companies like clothier Ralph Lauren make their products in another country shocked some politicians.
Funny. It didn’t shock me.
It’s not a national secret that fewer and fewer goods are being crafted, produced and assembled effectively and cheaply in America.
The city of Detroit is, unfortunately, our national symbol of this phenomenon.
As much I sympathize with the apparent decline of American-made exports, I don’t see what the brouhaha is all about in allowing our Olympic athletes to wear clothing made in China.  
The Olympics, in essence, allows America to represent itself on a global stage.
Wearing products not made in the U.S.? Seems to be the American way, considering many “American” goods (Apple tablets and smart phones, for one) are assembled there. It’s transparent knowledge for consumers that their iPhone or sweater or even their American flags are not produced here.
All you need to do is look at the tag or sticker.
Not every thing is as it seems, however.
In fact, according to a May report by the Wall Street Journal, more U.S. manufacturing jobs are trickling back to America, and are set to increase this year as well by about 3.2 percent. Not to say that all manufacturing will follow suit, however; the factory sector shrunk for the first time since 2009, the Journal reported in June.   
As for Ralph Lauren’s recent misstep, the clothing brand announced Monday it would be manufacturing uniforms for the 2014 winter games in the U.S.
All’s well that ends well.

In other news, the Kentucky Department of Education Commissioner Terry Holliday recently warned of the impact federal spending cuts will have on educational jobs, grants and programs throughout Kentucky.
All decreases will be applied as early as January 2013, Holliday said in a state press release. They could even affect funding for fiscal year 2013, which begins in October 2012.
It’s unclear how these cuts will affect Anderson County (the Department of Education said it would have more information coming on individual districts), but the current numbers released by the National Education Association don’t look good:
• Kentucky, as a whole, stands to lose $61 million per year for the next decade. The Congressional Budget Office predicts a 7.8 percent cut for this year, while the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities predicts an 8.4 percent cut.
• A total of 1,352 people may be without jobs and 128,560 Kentucky students may be affected by the slashes in funding.
The commissioner advises district superintendents to be conservative in their budgeting for the upcoming year in light of this information.
As the Board of Education prepares to finalize its budget in September, we’ll see if Superintendent Sheila Mitchell has taken his advice.
More importantly, we’ll see if this news affects the board’s choice of tax rate in August.
Remember, the Board of Education approved a tentative budget at the end of May with $750,000 in increased spending, including $500,000 in step and salary increases for school employees.
That budget has already been sent to the state for approval.
But before the budget gets approved, guess what comes first.
Tax rates.
Both the first day of school and the date for setting the school district’s tax rates are right around the corner.
It’ll be interesting to see if the school district leaves the tax rate flat — which the school board has done for the last three years — takes a compensating rate or decides on a 4 percent revenue increase to garner enough revenue to support its $750,000 increase.