Friday afternoon I submitted a “Letter to the Editor” for the News-Gazette (UPDATE – now published in Tuesday’s edition):
I will be voting Yes on November 8th to support the Unit 4 facilities
It was not an easy decision to make, nor is this an easy letter to write. In
regards to the Sept 25th NG editorial “School tax plan is just too big”, I
understand this is a heavy tax burden. There are some that do not want their
taxes to go up. I respect that – I certainly do not want my taxes to
increase. It is important that we support public schools, and I am willing to
put my money where my mouth is.
I believe the current referendum does in fact move us forward. Therefore, I
encourage you to vote in favor of the school district’s plans on November
8th. I would further invite deliberation with those that believe the
referendum does not move us forward.
There has been a lot of useless “talk” in regards to the funding our local
public schools, and this is a responsibility I lay at the feet of our
community as a whole. The current school board has bent over backwards in an
effort to gather feedback and discuss their options in open session. I would
even say the board has done too much; our community is too complacent and in
general, we fail to exercise real democracy.
To vote is good. To be an educated voter is even better; weigh your arguments
against others. But best yet is to care about other people.
In Sunday’s Opinion section, I see that the League of Women Voters has also thrown in their support in favor of the referendum. I heard from a Chamber of Commerce member over the weekend that the Chamber recently sent out a vote, so it will be interesting to hear their opinion as well.
I like the way that the LWV’s letter put it – sure, there are things we would rather change about the referendum (and/or the process that we have taken to get here), but overall, the good outweighs the bad. I have another blog post that will be published soon that is an interview I had with Board President Chris Kloeppel, and the bottom line that came out of that chat was “Does the referendum move us forward?” And I believe it does.
What I would have liked to have seen happen differently is that I would want the board (and administration) to take a step back and force the “Yes” folks to deliberate with the “No” folks, in multiple venues and settings. The community has not owned this discussion (for many years), and thus the community is not well educated. Just read the NG editorials and comment sections for proof. 🙂 And even though Unit 4 goes through the formality of a public budget hearing, there is essentially nobody there. So my one biggest gripe right now is that the voters do not fully understand the budget picture, nor the bigger context of facilities and how all that affects education. As I have said in the past, we do not have a clear correlation between dollars spent on facilities versus academic achievement – granted, it is exceptionally hard to prove it one way or the other.
For an interesting stroll through public opinion against the referendum, I encourage readers to go through the 28 pages of the Online Survey Open Ended Responses, or the 14 pages of the Phone Survey Open Ended Responses. I am thinking a forum on that alone would be a good place to start off a “town hall meeting.” 🙂