In college I took a Public Policy/Admiration class as part of my studies. The department head made the following statement that has always stuck with me. May I paraphrase: “for all the public taxing authorities (federal, state, county, city, special districts) the local school board has the greatest “unchecked” authority to influence the amount of taxes you will pay. FACT CHECK Go look at your most recent tax bill. You will find that between 50-65% of your property tax bill goes to the school board. Not the potholes you are currently experiencing.
That’s not the end of it. As the Osceola School Board (OSB) has pointed out in their WE WANT MORE OF YOUR MONEY presentation there are federal and state funds they receive. This is an additional funding source (12%). These funds are only available because of your payroll taxes. You are paying the whole bill. Don’t let them minimize that fact.
You are OSB’s Bank. Do banks give customer loans based on sketchy information? Just like a loan officer this Bank wants to know in details to how OSB is going to spend “Our” money. What’s the outcome? What’s collateral? I have asked OSB this question for over a year and get vague or no answers. There is a lack of transparency. No banking institution would lend them the $1.7M + funds they request. How about we tell them to go to Hiawatha Bank and ask for a secured loan. We’ll gladly repay that, if they can meet the requirements. Bank don’t operate on emotion and that is what OSB is hoping will play in on your decision. We all love our schools. Correct. But, I like most, wish to spend my money to meet basic personal needs first.
I guess it’s good that we get some of our payroll tax money back. We all work hard to make a living. You’ve heard the saying that there are two thing that are certain in life “death and taxes.” But both should not be painful. The OSB tax burden has gotten so great that people are having to make painfully hard choices. Within our school district that is definitely the case. Most families live on budgets. Things can be financially challenging when you are an young family and lucky enough to move into your first home, or a couple who has just retired and adjusting to meager SS checks (contrary to teachers’ beliefs, the majority of taxpayers have no pension), or renting and working two jobs to meet your monthly obligations. You may find yourself here someday. A two-income lifestyle is not a given. Count your blessings. As my dad, “Frank” used to lecture me, “if you’re paying taxes that means you’re doing fine”. That was at time when it didn’t take three months of SS checks or 180- 250 hours of work to just to pay your school taxes. You do the math on your take home pay!
OSB WANTS IT ALL, TO SPEND AS THEY FEEL FIT. I don’t know how the Bank feels about that. I beginning to feel like I’m on a Howie Mandel game show. OSB is playing a big game show with you. They are playing with your emotions. That’s what happens when you don’t have the facts. They gamble the sure money from the State on a bet you will give them more for more. You’re the Banker. As Howie would say “Deal or No Deal.”
OSB has not shown us that the previous cuts had any negative effects with fact-based statistical analysis or data. It all antidotal, if even that. I know for a fact there is some data. People have share bits and pieces with me. Why doesn’t OSB get the complete information out there? Outcomes are important to the Bank. They know that they can obtain more votes with emotion than having the public discussing the facts. Think about this point, Is teacher retention really an issue? We’ve had retirements and teachers leave for personal reason. When did the last one leave because they were unhappy? How long are positions open. This information might prove a point. If you dig into the data you will find retention (between 5-10 turnover rate is not excessive) and attracting teachers is a not significant issue. People want to work for the school district. The pay structure is very balanced.
OSB hasn’t even given the Banker a compete 4-year budget. Yes, some general pie charts. They look pretty, but are soft if facts, at best. OSB uses the caveats such as we can’t predict. Pete Kammarud’s the most vocal with that line. Sorry, If you’re running a $18 million company you better be able to predict with some certainty and you better know how to mitigate risks. That’s why you were elected or get paid $140,000 a year.
Let me leave you with these “Frank Facts.”
Based on statewide school district performance “Osceola School District is in the top 17% out of Wisconsin’s 420 school districts!!! WOW, Chieftain Pride.
As of January 2018, when 835/690 education bill became law, there were approximately 74 school districts operating in the $9,200 +- $100 / pupil funding category. (basically, the same funding as Ours) Of these 74 school districts, it appears that Osceola is in the top 5% in performance. That’s Efficiency. Fantastic!!!
It’s well documented that more money will not change school outcomes.
The Osceola School Performance says a lot about our “Teachers and Support Staff”. They are very effective and their passion for their subject matter prevails. We should all applaud and fully support those who make this happen. There is much to be “Proud” about.
But a unsubstantiated OSB request for funds with no defined outcomes just doesn’t justify a “Voter Approval.” The requested money will not be going to our teachers. Look closely at the OSB presentation. You will see numbers for raises just don’t match up. Makes you wonder? Trust me. I’ve done some of the research. I encourage to do the same.
Bankers always take care of themselves first. I encourage you to do that. You must keep yourself solvent. OSB will get by even if this referendum doesn’t come through. The State came through the last time. OSB is retiring an Energy Bond that is a hidden undisclosed safety net. No one is there for your safety net. Don’t go to Turtle Lake like OSB has. Your school will have great teachers with passion.
Think about it. Everyone is afraid to say it. I’ll Start It.
Vote No on April 2, 2019, Go to the polls in number.
Pass It On
Chieftain Pride, Osceola Proud
As the Rolling Stones Song goes: “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”
I understand it well and live buy it.
Chip Lederer – School District Resident of 30 years.
PS: due to space constraints, deadlines and editorial policy I will publish “The Rest of the Story” as Paul Harvey would say with the untold facts and bureaucratic dysfunction.