Friday, June 17, 2011

More Bogus "Facts" Spewing from the District

Last night a public hearing was held on the 2011-12 budget.  The room was curiously filled with district staff.  File that under things that make you go "hmmmm".

Anyway, what's got our skivvies all in a bunch (well, one reason anyway) is that for the UMPTEENTH time, Business Manager Phil Frei proudly declared that Sun Prairie would once again be one of those rare districts that set a tax levy below the allowable taxing limit (revenue limit).  Mr. Frei tossed a figure of 5% out, as in  Sun Prairie is really rare, like only 5% of districts set tax levies underneath the allowable limits.

We know Mr. Frei reads this blog.  So we know Mr. Frei knows that we have pointed out countless times that it is not "rare" for districts to tax under the revenue limit. OK...let's qualify that...UNLESS you believe that 25% represents "rare".  Yeah...we don't think so either.

The funny thing about all this is that the school district want you, the people, to trust what they say.  Unfortunately, the more frequently we point out the errors in their ways, the less believable their stories become.  And that spells bad news for a district that is pushing for at least a 3.5% levy increase.

We did a very quick scan of DPI data for the last 10 years.  The AVERAGE % of school districts levying under the revenue cap is 28%.  That's like more than 1 in every 4 1 in every 4 Sun Prairie graduates have a cumulative GPA of 3.75 (A-) or above!

Mr. Frei also made a comment to the effect that with the reductions to school funding over the last few years, it's become even more rare to levy under the revenue limit.  Again, NOT TRUE!  In fact, in each of the last 2 years, at least 1 out of every 3 districts levied UNDER the revenue limit.  In fact, last year more district than at any other time in the last 10 years levied under the revenue limit!  Stop tossing out bullsh*t propaganda an non-truths designed solely to make your number look better than they are! 

Lifeline for Mr. Frei
OK...let's not pigpile on Phil.  Although sometimes it seems it's like taking candy from a baby.  [We'd say "like taking candy from the district", but...well....that seems to be a rather monumental task...stay tuned!]  Perhaps what Mr. Frei MEANT to say was that in terms of the extent to which Sun Prairie has levied under the revenue limit over the past 6 years, we rank in the top 5%.  THAT would actually be true.  But that's not what he said....not even close.  But maybe, just maybe, he can swallow his pride and correct his bogus statements after he reads this.  But...don't feel the need to give us credit Phil.  We're a humble outfit here.

Before we Go Shouting from the Mountain Top...
Let's keep in mind that while it has been nice that Sun Prairie has exercised fiscal restraint in "not spending --and taxing--as much as they are legally allowed to", other similar-sized districts have outdone us.  Last year, while we levied $3.0 M under the revenue limit, Janesville, Hudson, and Madison had us beat by (respectively), $3.2M, $8.9M, and $10.0M under.

Lies Damn Lies, and Statistics
The district likes to spin things, so let's do a little of that ourselves.  While Sun Prairie levied the 5th highest under the revenue limit of all districts last year, if you look at the amount as a percentage of the revenue limits (which normalizes things for larger districts like ours), we only rank (tied with 2 others) the 24th highest at 4.3%.  We're one of 16 districts that levies more than $1M under the limit.

# Districts levying
> $ 5M under:  2
$1-5M under: 16
$0.5-1M under: 10
$100-500K under: 43
< $100K under:  82

See for yourself
Once gain, don't trust the facts...and here's where to find the data
This is the DPI webiste where you can find historical Levy/Revenue Limit data

This the 2010-11 Levy/Revenue Limit Data for all school districts