Thursday, October 16, 2008

Milwaukee German Immersion School and MPS

My daughter brought home a newsletter from MGIS PTA today. It reminded us that the fight for the school budget isn't over. For those with kids who attend MGIS, you'll remember we almost lost our PE and music teachers. Many concerned parents banded together to fight this, including myself, went before the board and got our teachers back.

I knew this was a temporary situation, though. While there were things . . . monies . . . that could be had for this year, it didn't guarantee being a permanent solution. Hence, the newsletter.

While my daughter attends MGIS, this affects everyone. Kids or not, as the school budget affects our taxes. The front of the PTA newsletter essentially announced the news of the budget and gave us information as to upcoming board meetings that we should attend . . . again. That's fine.

On the reverse side of the newsletter, however, was a breakdown of budget options with each showing the ramifications of cost to taxpayers and monies to schools. This is where it gets a bit infuriating for me. Heres how the newsletter broke it down:

Option 1
• Adopt the budget as is. No increases in spending or taxes (on school portion only)
• State Aid lost: 7.5 million
• Cuts to MPS: 14.5 million
• Cost to taxpayer: 9% increase or $121 a year.

Option 2
• Adopt an amended budget
• State aid lost: 1.9 million
• MPS cuts: 0
• Cost to taxpayers: 14.9% increase or $199 a year

Option 3
• Adopt maximum levy budget
• State aid lost: 0
• Cuts to MPS: 0
• Cost to taxpayers: 17.5% increase or $228 a year


If we don't increase the school portion, as amended in June 2008, MPS will lose money, this year, and we will lose teachers, this year.

Don't get me wrong. I love MGIS. Anyone with children there or who works there likely knows this. I spend a lot of time this past spring fighting to keep Herr Arndt and Herr Warren. But, MPS cannot continue to reach in to our pockets to fix every problem. It's a reckless trend that has to stop.

First off, we have a State funding formula problem. How MPS gets the money and how it's distributed is greatly flawed. That alone is enough to put the brakes on any tax increase. Fix that problem! Yes, it's at the State level which means contacting Sullivan and Cullen and getting them to push for the changes needed. But, it's also about not letting this school board think that every answer lies in our pockets. The trend needs to stop. Every increase that's approved will never be enough. If we hold the line at 9%, I guarantee it will be another 9% next year. And the year after that. And the year after that. If we allow a 17% increase, it will be 17% next year. And the year after that. And so on.

It's never enough. Unless we say it's enough.

Second. In light of all the improprieties of school board spending, you've got to be kidding me. At what point is the board held responsible for OUR money? We pay them. Yet, they act as though they can do what they want with OUR money. Spend millions on consultants, have vacant schools, bus routes that make no sense, travel (Hardin, anyone?), programs that don't work . . . the list goes on and on. This board has made bad decisions after bad decisions. I'm sorry. This is like bailing out the theif who just robbed your house. I can't do it.

Third. Uh, economy anyone? Doyle just announced that the State budget might be 3 billion in the hole. That's a bunch of bull, mind you, but it sets up the excuse for raising taxes to cover the hole he created. So tack on a whole lot more to that $228 number. It's never about decreasing spending. It's always about increasing taxes. Did anyone read the article from the NY consulting firm concerning MPS benefits? Read it here. Now, tell me again, we should give them more money?

Throwing more money at a system with a broken funding formula is incredibly misguided. Regardless of the ramifications. I don't want to lose any teachers. But, continuing to throw money at a flawed system insures it won't get fixed. We need to concentrate our efforts at the State level. Contact Sullivan and Cullen. Fix the funding formula. Say no to higher taxes.

Representative Cullen:
Senator Sullivan:

We fought once to keep our teachers without increasing the budget, we can do it again.

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