It is no secret that our school system is ranked second in the state in academic performance behind only Zachary Public Schools, which in comparison has a total of 5,400 students at seven schools to Ascension Public Schools' 22,800 students at 27 schools.

They're more than a letter grade. They're economic advancement.

This Saturday, the Ascension Chamber of Commerce is asking parish voters to vote "yes" for two Ascension Parish Public School (APS) property tax renewals that will be on the March 30 ballot. First approved in 1983 and 1994, these existing property taxes have funded, and will continue to fund, day-to-day operations and building maintenance needs for the school system. As the voice for the Ascension Parish business community, supporting these renewals was an easy decision.

It is no secret that our school system is ranked second in the state in academic performance behind only Zachary Public Schools, which in comparison has a total of 5,400 students at seven schools to Ascension Public Schools' 22,800 students at 27 schools. Our public-school system is also one of only four school systems in the state to receive an "A" letter grade on the 2017-2018 State Report Card. Excellence is their standard, but that standard transcends academic performance. For example, Ascension Public Schools has received awards like Excellence in Financial Reporting, the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award, Excellence in a School Information Campaign, National Illuminator of the Year, and Excellence in Classroom Technology Usage.

From an economic development perspective, it is clear to see that the Ascension Public School System is more than just a letter grade. The school system serves as a major economic driver for our local economy. APS is the largest employer in the parish, employing more than 2,800 teachers, administrators, and support personnel. Most of these employees own homes in the parish and spend money with local businesses resulting in a return to our local government through property taxes and sales tax revenue. Furthermore, the school system is currently working through a $120 million investment in capital outlay projects including the construction of four new schools. These construction projects serve as a reinvestment in our community by not only meeting the needs of the parish's growing population, but also through the direct hiring of local architects, engineers, and contractors who will be constructing these new schools. Lastly, APS plays a vital role in workforce development through the education and training of tomorrow's workforce, and through talent recruitment and retention. By partnering with local employers and universities, APS is able assure that our children will have the skills needed to transition seamlessly into the workforce or post-secondary education. By doing so, we can keep our homegrown talent where they need to be . . . home.

History has shown that APS have been excellent stewards of Ascension Parish tax payers' money. Although the tax base has grown with the parish's growing population, the school system has been able to not only maintain services for this growing population but to enhance and expand upon those services while not asking the tax payer for any more money. For these reasons and so many more, we ask that you vote "yes" to renew these two funding sources that play an essential role in APS's ability to continue serving our children and community at their standard of excellence.