Wednesday, March 09, 2011

New Trier School Board Cited for Violations of Open Meetings Act. Hmm

Here. Gee, what were they talking about.

The feeder school District 39 Wilmette wants voters to approve a $6 million plus tax increase referendum after Wilmette teachers union rejected a salary freeze. Here's a letter to the editor that caught my eye:
Badge of courage

Conspicuously missing from the debate over the proposed tax rate increase on the April 5 ballot is the teacher's union, Wilmette Education Association. Apparently, the WEA prefers anonymity while the remaining constituencies (taxpayers, parents and students) affected by the outcome of the referendum ponder the grim options of higher taxes or lesser quality education.

Unapologetically, Superintendent Ray Lechner and his Board of Education have emphasized the nuclear option if the ballot initiative fails: Increased class sizes, eliminating foreign languages and music and laying off 80 teachers. Their pitch to Wilmette voters: Pay higher taxes or your children will pay the price!

But, if you're going to force taxpayers to choose between higher taxes or lesser quality education, why not ask the teacher's union to decide how badly they want those 80 jobs? Why not demand concessions?

Unfortunately, the optimal outcome on April 5 is to defeat the referendum and force the teacher's union to choose between jobs and no jobs.

The simple fact is that taxpayers can no longer go it alone when it comes to making sacrifices for public education funding.

Voting against the referendum isn't a vote for lesser quality education. It's a badge of courage that you're willing to stand up and reform public school compensation.

If not on April 5, then when?

Peter Conkey Wilmette

The district website, openly lobbying for the referendum, talks about a rise in enrollment over the last decade but neglects to say that expenditures have risen at a pace 10 times that. And the outlook for enrollment from here on is flat to falling.

Interestingly, across the country in a NY suburb they are facing some of the same issues:
Displaying a sheaf of charts and projections that he and a friend prepared for a school board meeting, Mr. Pulkkinen said in an interview that if property taxes continued to rise in Bronxville at roughly the trajectory of the last decade, they would double by 2020 — and by 46 percent in the unlikely event the “austerity budgets” of the last two years continued through the decade. “I think it is a false paradigm to have to choose between radically diminished services or exponentially higher taxes,” he said, “without first addressing the structural issue of teacher compensation.”

So far, he argued, Dr. Quattrone and the school board have not done so. Instead, they have chosen “soft targets.” One hour a week of Spanish instruction to grade-school students, for example, was eliminated last year. Mr. Pulkkinen instead would attack “structural” expenses like tenure, the accumulation of unused sick days and the rising amount the school board pays for pensions and health insurance.
Years ago when the last District 39 school referendum was on the ballot, I argued, unsuccessfully, that the district needed to look at reining in costs because it was driving seniors out of the community. I felt I couldn't go to my neighbors and ask for more until the district had dealt seriously with its budget. Well, now I'm a senior. Seniors are not necessarily silent cash cows any more.

So the teachers union bosses and their school board allies want to raise our taxes?

Just say no.

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