Written by a concerned resident and parent of District 7 who prefers to remain anonymous, reprinted here with permission
Editor’s Note: When not one, but two separate residents of District 7 brought this letter to our attention, we asked for permission to reprint it. None of us could have said this any better.
An Open Letter Regarding SD7 Bond Referendum
Is this a vote about education or facilities? As most referendums go, administrators and school boards shoot for the moon and if not successful start all over again looking for the public’s acceptance point. Friends, we’re on a trip to the moon now.
The school board and administration wishes to build a palace. The powers to be wish to relocate SHS on a parcel of land three times the size of the current location. This for a student population that has not grown and is not expected to grow in the future. So let’s admit the obvious. This bond referendum is not about relieving over crowded facilities in the school district. It’s about building a legacy for the powers to be and shoving the cost down to the people they profess to help. And make no mistake; the cost is high – very high indeed.
FIVE REASONS TO VOTE NO
1. The proposed location for the new school is not safe.
This reason alone is sufficient to vote NO. The site is riddled with safety issues. High traffic, active railroads, rail crossing and high power voltage just to name a few. Don’t take my word for it – just drive to the location and take a look for yourself. So I ask the board and administrators – are you willing to exchange child safety for a football facility and cultural center?
2. SD7 has the authority to time the vote whenever they choose.
Just as they did in 1998, this referendum is scheduled at a time to insure low voter turnout. This is no longer legally possible in many states. Why? Referendums that are decided by 6% voter turnout do not represent the will of the people.
This tactic of timing the referendum in March is just another disguise for voter suppression. If this referendum were held during a general election, it would be dead on arrival. If you can rig the game, you can win the game.
3. Every time a government entity acquires property that was previously taxed, they remove valuable tax revenues from the tax rolls.
Who picks up the tab for lost revenues? The remaining taxpayers in the school district do. Who does this impact most? Seniors living on fixed incomes and low income families just trying to make it another week. Geesh.
4. It is beyond easy to mortgage the lives of others when you have the power to tax.
This bond referendum is all about borrowing $185,000,000. It takes $350,000,000 to pay it off. The amount to be borrowed is over 4 times the existing debt of the district. Pension costs for School District 7 represent another $200,000,000.
These two costs alone strangle our children with a tax burden to satisfy $550,000,000 in future obligations. Seriously, would anyone in their right mind strangle future generations with obligations that amount to $10,000 for every man, woman and child living in the school district? Would you? It’s easy when you’re using other people’s money.
5. This referendum is not about education, it’s about facilities.
To justify the amount of proposed spending on this project, the board must do so by indicating deficiencies in curriculum, instruction or academic achievement. No such deficiency exists at SHS. This school, in its current location, has achieved an excellent rating as indicated on report cards issued by the state. Graduation rates are up, drop outs are down.
The academic program is outstanding. We’re talking about a blue ribbon school. Thank you teachers. These are the people that make it possible. If the powers to be want to improve education, target your efforts to improve the lives of those that matter most. Some of these veteran teachers, teaching AP courses, took pay cuts after the Great Recession that has not been restored to prior levels.
Instead of building a facility that is not needed, take care of your own people. They will take care of the rest. This isn’t a referendum about an old school that needs a new face. This is a solution in search of a problem. It’s a bogus argument. Anybody want to argue that Pine Street School is outdated?
The decisions driving this referendum is all about “Wants”, unlike regular old taxpayers who render decisions based off “Needs”. Most hard working families and taxpayers would not borrow money to build anything if their liabilities exceeded their assets.
This isn’t the case with the school district board and administrators. The general fund at School District 7 has more liabilities than assets. In fact, by a total of 4 million. How do the powers to be make decisions? Here’s how. I “Want” a football facility. I “Want” a cultural center. And yes, I don’t “Want” to keep up with the Joneses, I “Want to be the Joneses”. The arrogance of the statement needs no further comment.
Please get out and vote on March 15. Make your vote count. If the opposition is successful, we can return from the moon and make a decision that protects our seniors, the teachers, the families that are struggling and the future generations of children that will be strangled with a very large tax bill. VOTE NO on March 15.