Sunday, April 17, 2011

Caution: No Sugar Daddy On Board

Board Votes 4-3 AGAINST Paying WRS costs for Non-Union Staff
The big-ticket item on this past Monday's school board agenda was gently titled, "Equity" You just know that a sweet sounding title like that has your tax dollars piled behind it.

The motion to approve paying $32,000 of projected WRS costs for the 31 non-union/non-contract employees initial seemed headed for passage. Jim McCourt, John Whalen, and Caren Diedrich were absolute supporters from the get go. These are the people who like to spend your money.

John Welke and Dave Stackhouse clearly were in opposition. We had Terry Shimek pegged as potentially being in opposition (while Shimek has been more toast than waffle of late, we're still not sure if he'll say one thing during discussion and then vote the other way...we need more time). Frankly, Shimek stated it best when he termed the $32,000 payment a "bonus". Jill Camber-Davidson, it seemed, would be the tie-breaker. During the discussion phase, the audience agreed that it looked like Camber-Davidson would support the motion (and spending). For the record, all signed from board member-elect Tom Weber indicated that had he been voting, his vote would be "No". After a few district residents spoke out against the motion, it was time to vote. Voting went as we suspected until it came to Ms. Camber-Davidson. Following what seemed to be a very pregnant pause, Davidson voted "NO", and the motion was defeated.

Don't Shoot the Messengers
Administrative Support staffers should neither judge nor condemn the four board members who voted against their "bonus". These board members were simply doing what they were elected to do: represent the electors who put them in the big chairs. It's not easy to sit up there and say "NO", knowing that that decision will hurt the pockets of 31 employees. But it was the right thing to do. For far too long we've had a board that didn't hesitate but to rubber stamp every proposal coming out of 501 So. Bird Street.

Equity for all? WTF?
While Culver is so concerned about his 31 Administrative Support staffers, where's the concern for equity for Local 60 staffers, who have been on the short end of the stick for many years. Yeah? More to the point...where is his concern for the taxpayers who ponied up $100M for the TajMah HighSchool and the CHUMS makeover? Who ELSE is "in the crosshairs"? How many district residents will be affected by Gov. Walker's mandate? There are a lot of folks on Sovcial Security who haven't had a raise--or a bonus--for 2 years. There are also a lot of state, county, and municipal workers who are all "in the crosshairs". Where's Culver's concern for them? They don't have a sugar daddy.

“I raised this as a matter of equity. Almost every school district in Dane County is doing the same thing. This group will be paying their WRS contributions through June 30. Because they’re not represented, they’re in the crosshairs. These 31 people are caught in this gap. I thought it was equitable that if everyone is going into this together, these employees are considered”
---School District Administrator Tim Culver

We're NOT strapped for cash?
All we've heard for 2 years is how terrible the budget situation is and how it's only getting worse. NOW Culver's situation report indicates that the district is "not strapped for cash" and therefore paying the $32,000 is no problem. Plus...we budgeted for it!!! Yeah? and we budgeted $1.4M more than we needed last year, and it appears we budgeted $1.1M more than we needed THIS year. The issue here is that our budgets contain too much fluff...prompting these kinds of remarks. The district likes to say its saving money...but show us that in the budget in terms of cuts. All they ever point to is utilities savings...largely due to nature, not cutting back. When has the budget shown a substantial DECREASE in spending for specific line items?