Tuesday, October 27, 2009

West Bend School Board Votes to "Tax to the Max"

Congratulations..you are now the proud owners of more taxation, on top of the school referendum, on top of your home assessment increase despite the poor housing market..... Thank your school board. Thank your "fiscally conservative" representatives, Bruce Koenig and Tim Stepanski, who voted for the levy


Loads of students came armed with signs that read "NO", "NO CUTS", "CUTS HURT KIDS" and the like.

The sound system stunk. Had to strain to hear. Missed some more soft-spoken speakers

The meeting began with a choir teacher receiving an award and a standing ovation, then her presentation of a quartet of young gals dressed in "sailor girl" outfits singing in beautiful harmony.

The quartet was impressive. The school board, however, was not.

WBSD Supt Pat Herdrich started the meeting off reminding everyone about the loss of state aid, and how the school board will be meeting next Monday night to discuss next year's budget that will include them making $2 million-worth of cuts IN ADDITION TO the cuts that will take place with the tax levy vote tonight.

A group from WEAC came forward and spoke some garbled information, one at a time. It did not appear to be anything meaningful from what I could tell. If it was a salary freeze, I did not hear it nor did I get the impression they did anything more than state "we want the community to know that everything is on the table."

One mom spoke and stated she would take cuts for the "non-teachers" over the welfare of her children. She also called out the $3000 spending spree for a California seminar speaker being flown in for the teachers this week instead of looking for someone less expensive and local.

Herdrich gave the same old/same old spiel about the budget reduction process going on for the past 15 years.

Various community members spoke with their thoughts concerning the tax levy.

Those who were for the levy implied that we could not have quality education without increasing the tax levy. We heard we should raise the tax to the cap because "my Dad went there." The other thing I kept hearing over and over (sounded rehearsed) was "How can we expect these children to support us when we refuse to support them in their time of need?" and "They (the children) must be prepared to succeed. They must be prepared to support us." We heard a Chinese proverb from Mark Maley "With crisis comes opportunity." Maley declared "Give this school board and superintendent a chance and I'll guarantee you, they'll get it right."

Teachers got up to the podium with declarations of loyalty to the children, frugality in all things except education, statements of quality education suffering if we don't tax to the cap.

Those who were against the levy brought the recession back to the board and begged for "relief." One woman strongly stated "Stop the lies, stop the hypocrisy and stop using our children." She continued by calling for a voluntary wage freeze for teachers and administration. "We are teaching our children to demand what they want despite the cost," she warned.

Ironically, the students began to take turns at the mic, with a mantra of "we need all of our aids/we need our librarian because I read a lot/we need the Gifted and Talented program because I am so gifted and talented and others who are not as intelligent as me won't be able to adjust to a heavy work load out in the real world without the program." (Didn't make sense to me, either.) One student proclaimed "We may not understand it all, but we know what we don't like."

School board members were able to respond one by one. Kathy VanEerden stated she would support the 10.9% tax levy, and the rest followed suit. Bruce Koenig praised the administration for taking pay freezes, and this was met with general applause. He gave an analogy of building a wood shed without the proper quality parts, stating that the school children were like that project in that what we decide today will affect the quality of their lives for years to come. Tim Stepanski gave a tearful and emotional synopsis of his son's benefit from the AP classes and his ability to clear out college credits before graduating from high school, and spoked in support of the 10.9% tax levy as well. The levy passed with a unanimous vote.

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