Sunday, January 2, 2011

A New Year's Re-Affirmation

SP-EYE exists in order that you are provided with the most detailed information regarding the Sun Prairie Area School District.  Currently, an average ($250K) homes pays roughly $3,000 per year (before the First Dollar or School Tax Levy Credits) in property taxes.  In the City of Sun Prairie, the total mill rate is a bit more than $22 per $1000.  The cost of running the entire city (including police, fire, etc.) is LESS than the cost to run the school district.  These are tight economic times,but regardless of the economic climate, we have a right to know PRECISELY how are tax dollars are being spent.

If You Can't Stand the Heat, the Kitchen May Not be the Place for You
You probably wouldn't be surprised to learn that we DO hear on occasion comments regarding the "tone" of SP-EYE.  
  • "Gee...those posts are pretty pointed..."
  • "You really called that out..."
  • "OMG...Can't believe you posted that!"
  • "Man...I totally peed my pants!"
We've been termed "snarky" (and we rather like that one), bitter, crass, etc., etc.  But what we are consistently told is that we offer the real data that the school district doesn't want you to know.  They wave their hands and say things like, "It's really'll have to trust us".  Yeah...and Kaa wanted Mowgli to trust him too.

SP-EYE operates under a very simple principle:  So long as the Powers That Be continue on their smoke and mirrorquest to snow taxpayers, we'll call things out publicly.  They don't like that.  Geee...wonder why?  No one likes to get caught with their hands in the cookie jar. THEN KEEP YOUR DAMN HANDS OUT OF THE COOKIE JAR!

Case in point:  The district doesn't want the public (or the likes of Governor -elect Walker) to know that they actually make a PROFIT off of the 4-year old kindergarten program. (They prefer to call it a surplus)   That's right....the state pays the district MORE than it costs to actually run the program. (Tell us again...who are the "haves" and who are the "have nots", Mr. Walker?)  That extra million dollars funds a whole lot of salary increases and perks.   Similarly, they don't want you to learn that the highly paid administration made a crucial error in projecting transportation costs of the 4K program.  They budgeted $50,000 and the school board approved the program.  Oh...wait...turns out the ACTUAL cost was over $250,000!  FIVE TIMES the "projected" amount!   They don't want you to know because if you did, you might start to wonder:  Are these people that poor at budgeting?  Or is it that they so badly wanted the 4K program to be approved that they budgeted low to ensure school board approval.  Or is it something else?

Public Defense/Denial....Quiet Change
Our issue is that the school district -- and frequently the board by majority vote-- continues to refuse to acknowledge its own weaknesses and failures.  Instead, they choose to point fingers, ignore community residents, and actually attempt to rationalize their fiscal irresponsibility.  But, in the end, they generally--QUIETLY-- make changes (reduction in pizza deliveries, no more birthday Kit Kats, to name just a few).  That's just plain cowardly.  

An honorable board/district would have the integrity to stand up and say, "You know what?  You're right.  That IS (fill in the blank) and we need to change they way we do business."  SP-EYE could be a valuable ally instead of the present thorn in their side.  But they simply refuse to see that.  Do things right.  Instill fiscal responsibility and accountability.  Improve the overall academic process.  Do those things, and SP-EYE will be there tooting your horn for you.  But that isn't going to happen under the current leadership.  So be it.  So long as you choose to continue the shenanigans, we'll continue to cajole you, post the things you don't want people to know, and even embarrass you into doing the right thing.  We're in no hurry.  We can wait as long as you can.  We're not going away.  There are a whole lot of skeletons in your closet, and we'll bring every last one of them into the daylight. 

Dirty Laundry
Another issue we have is the way parents who come forward with complaints are treated.  Quietly sweeping the complaints under the carpet and ignoring policy.  And they way we protect certain "partnerships" while attacking others.  Remember a few years back when the district went on the offensive against T-Durst busing?  They tried to make T-Durst look like a fly-by-night outfit that was going to go under.  Yeah...the same T-Durst...who annually provides such a great service to special needs kids.  The district came up with "complaints" against T-Durst, and the witch hunt began.  The end game was an attempt to pull T-Durst's special ed. bus contract and give it to someone else (hmmm...wonder who).  If it weren't for the courage of Terry Bednar and the aid of Tom Hebl, the board would have had its way.  That was just plain dirty pool.  Bus problems....?

What if we told you...
... a 5 yr old child was let off the bus at their home when no one was present?  
... one parent was frustrated that their child suffered a concussion during a bus ride?  
... a failure to "clear a bus" and having a 4-year old left sleeping in the back of the bus until 5 pm?  

You don't hear these things, because the district works hard to squelch them. Excuse us if we have a problem with that.

So...if you don't like have some options.  SP-EYE is a choice.  It is not required reading.  So, if it offends you, read it no more.  Or choose to stand up with us and ask the questions that must be answered and continue to press until the real information comes out.  The status will remain quite quo until people find time in their busy schedules to come out to board meetings and speak up publicly.