Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sun Prairie School District...Like a $4.00 Bottled Water

Had the occasion to travel to central part of the Land of the FIBs over the weekend to attend the wedding of a very good friend's daughter (beautiful wedding, great reception, and the bride looked gorgeous in case you're wondering). We stayed as the hotel where the reception was held...a brand new, upper-scale establishment (which we won't name for fear of reprisal). As yesterday was quite warm and muggy, it was awesome to walk int the room and find a nice bottled water on the table for us. Very inviting. Except, just as the seal was about to be cracked, we noticed a little sticker that said something along the lines of, "This water is provided for your refreshment. If the seal is broken, your room will be charged $4.00."

$4.00 for a freakin' bottle of water? And not from some storied Fountain of Youth, either. It was bottled in like... St. Louis. It was just....water. And it's not like St. Louis is winning National or even Regional Water Taste championships. And, just like that.... the parallels to the Sun Prairie School District hit us like a ton of bricks. And then we thought about it some more as--muggy or not---we schlepped across the way to purchase a generic bottled water--ice cold already-- for under a buck.

Just as that $4.00 bottle looked so inviting, so too do the new high school, renovated "CHUMS", and two new elementary schools call out for attention. For many people, the sticker shock won't come until December, when they open their property tax bill. These will be the folks that remained disengaged from the district budget process and won't come out and cast their cote at the October 11 Annual Elector's Meeting. These are the same people that crack that inviting bottle of water in the upscale hotel room, only to be indignant when they see the $4.00 charge on their hotel bill.

Yes...we have a very nice school district. But bricks and mortar do not educate our kids. That is up to the teachers. Those same teachers that are being assessed embarrassingly silly appliance fees to generate a paltry $3,000 in "revenue" to offset a $72,300,000 budget, Yes...we have some outstanding teachers...but even the teacher's union will avoid answering the question, "Are all teachers outstanding"? Let's face the facts, people. We're not generating National Merit or even State Scholars at anywhere near the frequency that is expected of a district this size. Actually we're not generating any.

No scholars means one of three things: (1) a population of underachieving students, (2) a population of under-performing teachers, or (3) a watered down curriculum. Our money is on #3. Seriously...did any of you attend or watch the recent graduation ceremony? Did you take not of the huge volume of students achieving honors, high honors, and even perfect 4.0 GPAs through all 4 years of school???? And no scholars?? Hmmm.

Better read the label on this metaphorical bottle of water before cracking the seal.

Attend budget hearings.
Read budget documents.
Ask questions.
Become informed.
Then attend the Annual Elector's Meeting on October 11th.
And cast your vote for an appropriate tax levy for 2010-11.

What's appropriate?
Let's start with what's being proposed: a tax levy of $47.7 MILLION dollars.

Are you going to crack the seal on a $47.7M bottle of water without reading the label first?
[SP-EYE note...and be careful...we have reports that some of those bottles are contaminated with a certain flavor of KoolAid.]