Saturday, May 21, 2011

Responses: May 20, 2011 in Opt Outs

I had a full plate yesterday, so I didn't get to post a few comments that I wanted to make.

In a P&D letter to the editor, Darwin List asks, "If the opt-out is voted in or out, what are they going to do to prevent this from happening again?"  I will offer a cliched answer: get involved.  The legislature changed the rules and failed to honor their legal obligation to to increase funding this year.  If fact, they cut funding.  Citizens need to pressure legislators to honor commitments.  Further, school board meetings are sparsely attended, and I doubt that minutes are read.  Those on both sides of the opt out issue must be vigilant and involved if they wish to avoid another situation like this one.

In another P&D letter, LaDawn Remington implies that district employees have no effect on education and suggests that
each person who draws a paycheck from the school district’s General Fund would volunteer to take a 20 percent pay cut, there would be a net savings of more than $3 million — enough money to more than cover the missing state dollars and nobody would lose their job.
Her suggestion that custodial staff and food service workers who draw salaries from the general fund take a twenty percent pay cut insults those hardworking people. The idea that these workers can afford a twenty percent cut beggars belief.

Additionally, Pete Ehresmann paid for an advertisement opposing the opt out.  It contains Dickensian references to the best of times and the worst of times introduction to A Tale of Two Cities as well as subtle allusions to the pain of poverty that Dickens so eloquently describes.  Mr. Ehresmann also makes public his tax bill.  I am not in a position to know his finances, so I will let that information go without comment.

Mr. Ehresmann's discussion of property taxes does contain one glaring omission that I would like to address.  He fails to note that property taxes are the only instrument available to the school board if it needs to raise revenues.  I suppose the board could host a year round bake sale at one of the 24-hour convenience stores in town, but local confectioners might begin to complain that socialism is creeping into the snack food industry.

Finally, I apologize to out of town readers for posting so much about the opt out.  I would like to engage in the dialogue started about rural communities started at Reimagine Rural and continued at The Madville Times.  To quote Marilynne Robinson's Gilead, I'd like to write about "books, baseball, and fried egg sandwiches." In short, I'd like to write about hundreds of other things.  As my mother and Mick Jagger constantly remind me, I can't always get what I want.  The opt out is necessary for both school and community.  I feel compelled to do my small part.

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