To our liberal, teachers union friends who spouted gloom and doom if this WISD millage failed:
24,114 residents of Washtenaw County voted for the WISD millage for public schools yesterday. Now, this designated conservative suspects that they were voting for a tax hike on the assumption that other “rich people” would pay the bill, but in the hope that they were willing to put up their share I offer the following suggestion:
If all 24,114 “yes” voters each donated just the $200 per year that they said the tax would cost the average county homeowner, they alone would provide over 80% of the $30,000,000 that this new tax was projected to provide to the schools. Considering that this voluntary method would minimize collection/administration costs associated with the tax process, I suspect that their voluntary contributions would actually provide MORE funds to the schools than any tax. Come on “yes” voters – it’s time to get your checkbooks out and support the schools!
To all our designated conservative friends in Washtenaw County, thank you for coming out yesterday in overwhelming numbers to say “NO!” to the flawed WISD “enhancement millage! Thank you to all those that spearheaded the “Vote No” campaign! Great job.
Now comes the hard part: It’s time for designated conservatives to step in and lead our local public schools away out of the slow-death spiral the Michigan Education Association (MEA)-sponsored “leaders” have created for our children and grandchildren.
This Designated Conservative encourages like-minded folks to write to your school board members, district superintendents, and elected state representatives and tell them the unaccountable tax-and-spend, “this is the way we’ve always done things” mentality is no longer acceptable if we are to have a strong and vibrant public school system in Michigan:
- We need to get the union’s sticky fingers out of the public school employee health insurance business. Speaker Andy Dillon’s (D – Redford Twp.) proposal to consolidate all public employees in Michigan under one healthcare umbrella would save the schools $ Millions in benefits cost, and is a great starting point.
- We need real reform of local public school’s business operations. It’s long past time to privatize all non-academic services, and to consolidate and “share” administrative functions.
- We need more experienced business people and fiscally-conservative individuals to step up and run for local school boards. The MEA has made a concerted effort in recent years to defeat folks like this while supporting union-friendly candidates. This just-defeated WISD millage proposal is an example of the results of their efforts. It will be essential to identify designated conservative school board candidates for school board positions, and to actively support and campaign for their success.
Dusty Diary has a great post this morning entitled Millage Failure=Bloated School Administration? A Look at the Past (excerpt below)
With the failure of the WISD millage last night,… (m)any opined that there are far too many administrative and non-classroom positions (e.g., counselors) in local schools…. Dusty D became curious to see what YHS school administration was like in the past, by way of comparison.
In the 1905 “Ypsi-Dixit” high school yearbook, the administration consists of:
William B. Arbaugh, superintendent
Charles S. Jacobs, principal (and instructor in Greek, Latin, and History)
The YHS also had classes today considered “extra,” such as music, geology, and art.
It is interesting to see that for decades a school that graduated students educated in Greek, Latin, and Art did so with an apparent administrative staff of 2.
Let’s get to work! 🙂
QUOTES OF THE DAY:
The following was posted by “ChuckL” on the ArborUpdate blog post “Should voters give the county-wide school millage a passing grade?“:
“Here is another problem with a 2 mil increase;
we are proposing to raise taxes on people losing their health care, losing their retirement funds, losing their homes
so a lot of bad teachers (and other public school employees) can keep their health care, retirement benefits and homes.”
“The fact that private schools and homeschools effortlessly surpass government schools in academic standards as well as moral development (for a fraction of the cost) illustrates the absurdity that per-pupil spending or increased hours make any difference whatsoever.”
The following was posted by Rick Olson on Sharing Ideas for a Better Michigan in a post entitled, “Washtenaw County ISD Millage – There are Better Options“:
“As a former school business manager, I can tell you from an “insiders” perspective that there are still ways to cut the spending of school districts that the districts are electing not to choose. Instead, they fear monger with the parents about cutting services to kids, cutting teachers, increasing class sizes, etc.”
“Also, backing a tax increase thinking it will “improve the economy” is a smoke screen we should all be able to see through.”
The following was posted by “EOS” on the ArborUpdate blog post “Should voters give the county-wide school millage a passing grade?“:
“Increased spending on education has absolutely no correlation to improved test scores or better educated children. Extra funds will allow districts to hire even more administrators that won’t have a direct impact on student learning. Parental involvement, better disciplined students, and high expectations would have a far greater impact on educational outcomes and would cost nothing. It should be obvious that with record numbers of foreclosures in the county that this is the wrong time to increase taxes.
Question: How is the proposed WISD “enhancement millage” taxation without representation?
A vote in favor of a local public school millage ballot proposal is a vote of confidence in the local elected school board’s ability to use those additional property tax funds wisely for the direct educational benefit of the children attending those schools. The school board members are elected by those same voters who voted for or against the millage(s) that fund the schools, and are directly responsible to the voters.
- If I, as a resident of a school district, a parent of a child in the district, or a voter, have any question or concern about how that district is operating, I have the right and the responsibility to take my concerns to my local elected representatives on the school board.
- Those local elected school board representatives have the duty and responsibility to respond promptly to resident/parent/voter concerns, and to seek to make policy changes if needed to fix identified problems.
- If school property tax funds are wasted, or the voters are otherwise dissatisfied with the performance of school board members, they can be voted out of office.
- If their personal behavior or actions as a school board member are egregious enough, the voters can use the recall process to remove them from office.
- Most importantly for this discussion, if the voters in a school district are unhappy with the district’s use of public funds, they can elect to vote down a millage request or renewal.
The school district, the school board, and the school property tax all are connected to the same geographic area and political jurisdiction. There is a direct relationship between the people being taxed and the elected officials responsible for efficiently using those tax dollars.
This direct voter-elected official relationship doesn’t exist with regards to the WISD “enhancement millage proposal.
Worse yet, there isn’t even a direct relationship between my taxes being collected and students in my district benefitting. Because the tax revenues generated will be parceled out on a per pupil basis, the “elephant-in-the-room” Ann Arbor Schools will receive the bulk of the revenues. There is a likely potential for taxes generated in one school district to actually go to benefit students in another district elsewhere in the county!
The 1997 law that allows the WISD to be the shill for a property tax that cannot legally benefit the WISD (all funds must be distributed to the individual school districts based on student population) is seriously flawed, in that it unreasonably insulates those local elected school board members from the consequences of their actions (i.e. the decision to vote in favor of a resolution requesting the WISD to put the tax on the November 2009 ballot).
- There are no locally elected officials at the WISD, and voters have no recourse with regards to voting the WISD leadership out of office or seeking to recall them.
- It is difficult to explain the decision chain that so indirectly links my local elected school board to this ballot proposal, even though, if passed, my district will receive direct financial benefits from the funds collected.
- Because of this, local school boards can say, if somewhat disingenuously, “It’s not our millage request!”
For these reasons and more, this Designated Conservative sees the proposed WISD “enhancement” millage as nothing more than taxation without representation, a constitutional violation of the type that our country’s founding fathers fought a war over once.
Sometimes even the Designated Conservative is surprised by his friends. I’m pleased to see this come out – it will be interesting to see if it gets picked up by the local news outlets, who have been VERY QUIET to date about this blatant case of attempted taxation without representation:
Republican Party Decides to Oppose Millage Increase
Ann Arbor, Michigan
The Washtenaw County Republican Party has decided that the long-term educational needs of the County’s young people will best be supported by opposing the millage increase proposed by the Washtenaw Intermediate School District.
“The proposed 2 mill ($30 million) annual tax increase will push already struggling taxpayers over the edge, causing them to lose their homes, and further weakening the tax base of the county. It will achieve nothing beyond putting a temporary bandage on a fundamentally flawed educational finance and expenditure system,” said Wyckham Seelig, Vice Chairman of the party.
“In addition, it will further complicate the already too-complex system of education funding we now have in the County, making it even more difficult for taxpayers to understand where their tax dollars are being spent.”
“What we need to have is a serious, non-stop cost control effort, including much more privatization of non-teaching functions, vigorous competitive bidding for all school system business, and, most importantly, more cost effective teacher compensation packages.
School officials tell us that labor costs amount to up to 85 percent of their budgets, and, given the economic difficulties which the state now confronts, there is simply no way to fix the system without significant modifications in teacher compensation packages. If this means “impasse bargaining,” then so be it,” he continued.
The Republican Party believes that turning down this millage will force the county’s educators to confront the changes needed to create a stable system, not just for today’s students, but for generations to come.
For more information on the millage proposal, click here to read the AnnArbor.com article, “Washtenaw Intermediate School District board votes to place enhancement millage on ballot.” Here’s an excerpt:
The Washtenaw Intermediate School District’s school board formally voted Tuesday morning to place a 2-mill enhancement millage on the November ballot.
The WISD’s action followed each of the county’s 10 traditional school districts’ school boards passing resolutions asking the WISD board to take this action.
If approved by voters, the 2-mill tax would raise about $30 million each year for the next five years for the school districts.
The money would be split among the districts based on enrollment, not on how much each district raised in tax revenue, WISD officials said.
The Ann Arbor school district, the county’s largest district, would receive the most, more than $11 million per year.
Not included on the list of those getting the money would be the county’s charter schools, which have about 3,500 students.
Citizens for Responsible School Spending also have a website up with more information about why the WISD millage proposal is a bad idea and should be rejected by the voters of Washtenaw County in November.
A new, apparently well-funded advocacy organization called “Washtenaw Friends of Education” has sprung up and already sent out a very snazzy full-color brochure with the tagline,
“We need strong schools to prepare our children for 21st century jobs!”
Neither the brochure nor the website identifies the specific people behind this organization, other than Larry Cokler, Treasurer and President of the Dexter School Board.
However, the above tagline speaks volumes as to who’s likely helping to fund this mailing: It is the Michigan Education Association (MEA) teachers’ union that frequently uses virtually an identical tagline to buttress their arguments for more and more money.
This Designated Conservative is looking forward to seeing the required campaign finance reports for this committee (which are due to the Michigan Secretary of State’s office on 10/23/2009) so we can find out just how much the MEA members have contributed to this mailing.
LINK TO ANNARBOR.COM ONLINE POLL:
If you’re interested in voting in a poll on this issue, click on this link:http://www.annarbor.com/news/enhancement-millage-to-dominate-washtenaw-county-education-news/