Letter: Still questions on Re-2 tax plan
In the mail, I received three flyers from Re-2 asking for public input on a bond issue and a mill levy (MLO) override at three public meetings. After attending these meetings I was left with numerous questions.
In an effort to find answers, I met with three administrative officials, including the superintendent, three school board members, attended board meetings and conducted a very unofficial poll. Many of my questions remain unanswered, but here I want to focus on one.
In 2011, an Re-2 MLO was voted down. Shortly after this, the school board implemented a four-day week school calendar to save “upward of a million dollars a year to cover the shortfall.” According to the recently departed finance director, the actual savings in 2017 was between $250,000 and $400,000. With a general fund of $58 million a year, that’s less than 1 percent.
Late in 2017, the Re-2 board formed the “Task Force Committee” to recommend how bond and MLO money could be best spent. Teacher’s salaries and affordable housing, resource and mental health staff and a career/technical center were on the list. Not one word about returning to a five-day curriculum. It came up at all town meetings in April and May because I was there, each time by multiple parents.
In June, I received a public opinion survey and not one question out of almost 40 asked about the four-day vs. five-day a week school calendar.
Some people I ask had positive things to say about four-day school calendar. Many said their families have adjusted to make it work. All valid points, but why won’t they ask us? And after all, what is best for the kids?
Many, like me, believe it’s about more than money or days off. Just maybe some quality classroom time on Fridays vs. another hour added on to an already long Monday through Thursday would boost the below average achievement scores.
Why, Re-2, do you continue to suppress a public discussion on this most basic part of our kids’ education. Makes me wonder.
Michael E. Watts
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