Archive for March, 2010

Education Mafia at Work in St. Paul

March 31, 2010

As always, DFL legislators, Teachers Unions, and their bought and paid for school board members are scamming and scheming to get more of your hard earned money.  Here are two of the latest proposals in the state legislature;

House File 3699 Senate File 3317;

Which would grant school board $200 per pupil in discretionary levy authority in any year that the basic formula is not increased.

In other words, if the state gives us a 0% increase (which is still our money) then school boards can increase our taxes by $200 per student (about $2.4 million in ISD 281) without the voter’s approval.  This amounts to yet ANOTHER back-door referendum (I wonder if Mark Bomchill is for or against this or maybe both).  Talk about taxation wihtout representation!  Listen to the next one which is even worse;

House File 3063 Senate File 2769;

Which would allow school boards to renew an existing referendum by a majority vote of the school board as long as the per pupil amount of the referendum is the same as the expiring referendum and the term is no longer than the initial term of the referendum.

So then if a school district wants to renew a referendum for no more money they can renew it by a majority vote?  So could District 281 renew the 2008 referendum in 2015 for seven years with no vote?  So much for all that community outreach the district keeps on blabbing about.  They want our input as long as we continue to give them what is left of our checkbook.

Not surprising the DFL has its fingerprints all over this;  Jerry Newton (DFL 49B) is pushing House File 3063 and he is a school board director!  Mindy Greiling (DFL 54A) is the sponsor of the House File 3699 bill and she has a B.A. in……..you guessed it; education.  On the Senate side the two sponsors are Don Betzold (DFL 51) and Terri Bonoff (DFL 43).  Call, email, and write these legislators and tell them NO to back door referendums.  We are TAXED HIGH ENOUGH!!!!

W

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District 281 denies the citizens a vote

March 26, 2010

Get ready to open your checkbook yet again for district 281.  At the March 15 meeting District 281 submitted a plan to the Minnesota Department of Education to hike our taxes a cool $33 million to pay for repairs at Northport and Lakeview Elementary schools.  And is District 281 asking our permission to raise our taxes yet again?  Of course not.  If they have it their way, there will be no bond referendum.  As usual, we aren’t taken by surprise but check out the school board’s comments about it in the March 17 edition of the Sun Post.  Here is a sample;

Linda Johnson:

“We are all concerned about passing a bond referendum. That would take a lot of community education.”

Community education?  Are we dumb?  Isn’t it your job to explain these decisions to the public?

Tom Walsh:

“The Northport area has no history of supporting referendums, so it would be really an uphill battle.”

Maybe they are broke and don’t want to pay you more!

Barb Van Heel was perhaps the most outspoken about not giving the voters a voice;

“I just don’t think a bond referendum will pass. You’ve got to have a grass roots organization ready to go out there. We don’t have that.”

Unreal.   They admit they are unsure if a bond referendum will pass so they pass one for us!  Nice to know they are serving us so well.  And what happened to Mark Bomchill’s campaign “promises” to not support a “back door referendum” as he put it?  Sure didn’t take him long to flip-flop.

The Minnesota Department of Education has 60 days approve this plan.  Let’s hope they don’t just rubber stamp it.

Unions lead the way in spending

March 16, 2010

No state budget is more out of control than in California and perhaps and the California Teachers Association can share in some of the blame. The Sacramento Bee is reporting the following;

The California Teachers Association has spent more than $200 million on campaign contributions and lobbying efforts in the last decade, leading what the Fair Political Practices Commission calls a “billion-dollar club” of moneyed political interests.

And there is also this…

The $211.9 million spent by the CTA is nearly twice as much as the $107.5 million committed by the second-highest spender, the California State Council of Service Employees, but after those two union groups, the remaining 13 on the Top 15 list are all either business groups, such as No. 3 Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America ($104.9 million), individual corporations or casino-owning Indian tribes, which have three of the 15 top spots.

If we are ever going to have real reform, we need to defeat and dismantle the unions.  We can do it with competition through vouchers and tuition tax credits to put the power in the hands of individuals, not the state.  We can also vote out of office the politicians that have been bribed with union money and there are plenty of them in Minnesota.  Let’s do it this year!

Patsy Green: Partisan part 2

March 11, 2010

Patsy Green can help you make a difference in a leadership role! For the Robbinsdale School District? No, for the senate district 45 DFL party :

We’ll let the image speak for itself along with your comments.

(see related posts: Did Patsy Green violate school board code of ethics? & Patsy Green: arrogant and partisan )

Budget reductions approved, jobs cut, unnecessary programs stay?

March 11, 2010

The Sun Post reports that the School Board approved $3.8 million in budget reductions March 1 and seem reasonable:

Reductions at the administrative level next year will include 29.5 full time equivalent administrative and support staff positions, reducing travel and conference fees and moving school board elections to even years.

Cuts are needed because of declining enrollment and reductions in state aid to school districts, officials have said.

“This is an important decision you are making, but it’s not necessarily a final decision, ” Superintendent Also Sicoli said. “If there is anything you choose to remove, there is nothing to prevent the board from adding it back.”

Cue the “Hokey Pokey” song and dance after that last sentence. Further into the article, we found this:

Closing three school buildings in the spring of 2009 avoided a $2 million annual cost, and passing a referendum in 2008 enabled district officials to restore $5.6 million in programs and staff for the current year. In addition to reducing class size, preserving the arts, saving gifted and talented programs, partially restoring middle school activities and avoiding cutting media specialists.

Note the numbers and programs saved from cuts:

The total $5.3 million in reductions represents 4 percent of the district’s operating budget, Smith said.

He noted that 80% of the district’s operating budget goes to personnel costs.

The board agreed at a work session Feb. 8 not to cut most of the elementary programs on the list of proposed reductions, including full-day kindergarten, visual art specialties, instructional assistants all district choir, band and orchestra and elementary orchestra and band.

To paraphrase an old expression, some on the School Board fiddle while Rome burns. Students are failing AYP and in the basics, but they can draw and sing about it. 
Play on!

We are pleased that Tom Walsh said “we are maintaining a fund balance in case additional state cuts come down the pike.” The teachable moment here is that self reliance makes you stronger: if you can budget without state dependence you stay above water, not sinking in the sea.

We are interested in the school board’s discussion of moving school board elections to even years, saving the district money in odd year elections. This could mean board members agreeing to stay on a year longer (Tyrell, Basset and Van Heel) for a re-election vote in 2012 instead of 2011, and shortening others’ terms (Green, Walsh, Bomchill and Johnson). Putting them up in even years makes sense, when voters are paying attention. Despite parent and voter frustrations last year, a tiny percentage cared enough to come out to vote and change course.