- This is just one example of how collective bargaining works well. We collaborated to solve a challenging problem and it resulted in a win-win solution.
- This is just one example of how government works effectively. The School Board developed an understanding of the issue and problem, asked for input from administration, legal counsel, and those impacted, and then made a decision they considered to be in the best interest of all, Even though this had to happen quickly to avoid the complications you read about today in the Wisconsin State Journal (see Link 3) the public was given opportunity for input during the meeting.
I am very concerned about things being proposed for the future of public education in Wisconsin. The extreme changes with little input being sought from those who actually govern or manage schools, much less those who serve the children in them, coupled with the foreshadowed massive cuts to schools do not bode well for our future. We know there will be sacrifice from each of us in public education, both financially and in terms of a sense of stability in the future. Perhaps more concerning are the early reports on the Governor’s 2011–2013 biennial budget recommendations to the legislature. These indicate greatly lowered (that is negative) revenue limits along with significant reductions in state aid: a double whammy for public schools.
As of today’s best available information, our district is projecting at least a $3.6 million cut to the 2011-2012 school district budget (and another such cut on top of that one the following school year). This projected reduction would occur even if we raise our local levy by 4.5% - which the School Board established as a maximum parameter recently. Some of this cut will likely be absorbed by financial sacrifices mandated and/or voluntarily accepted by all district employees. However, there will also have to be cuts that will be hurtful in ways other than to employees’ lives and futures, especially in the second year of the biennium.
If the Sun Prairie community wants to maintain the best public education system possible and assure it survives the current challenges, it will be important for everyone to stay involved or become involved in new ways. Lately I am feeling very much as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stated, “…we are deeply in need of a new way beyond the darkness that seems to close around us.”
In my opinion, such a ‘new way’ will likely require more of us staying fully informed and actively involved, speaking out for the good of all. For example, we would like to see more citizens attending and participating in School Board and other meetings.
Here’s just one example of a critical issue that lies ahead:
- If the School Board, and subsequently the Annual Meeting, maintain the current parameter of a 4.5% as maximum local tax levy increase, we face the estimated $3.6 million cut in our budget.
- If the School Board, and subsequently the Annual Meeting, lower that parameter, say to a 3.5% increase, the cuts will be proportionately greater.
- If the School Board, and subsequently the Annual Meeting, raise that parameter, say to a 5.5% increase, the cuts will be proportionately less.
What do you think the School Board should do? Do you know how much of this increase was mandated by the voter referenda for schools? Does that matter to you? Who will speak out on which side of this issue as the Board proceeds? These questions are just a few of many surrounding decisions that will be made locally in the context of what finally happens at the state level. Whose voices will speak out?
We need your informed involvement and we need your voice. Many are presently charged up and motivated by what they view as terrible things being proposed and "forced" into law at the state level. Those things will happen or not. The time to speak out to state elected official with your opinions is definitely now.
But no matter what the state does to us in the future, your schools and district will be here dealing with it as we work to accomplish our mission of educating children. On every issue ahead, we may agree or disagree mildly or wildly, but we can be sure that only by working to keep the “we” together with civility and shared commitment to children will the school district be able to continue to serve all our community well.