Monday, September 1, 2014

Here's a Radical Idea....Let's Do Away With School Supply Lists

It's a simple concept, really.
These "supplies" are for the kids...and are necessary to learn...right?
And the school district tax levy should cover all things necessary to provide a  year's worth of education...right?
And CERTAINLY dry erase markers are for the the classroom...right? us understand...
Is the whole school supply thing nothing more than an additional property tax burden wrapped up in a sugar coated image of whole families happily shopping for school supplies together?

We hear from families that school supplies cost an average of roughly $75 per kid.
In a district of 7500 kids, that's somewhere between $500,000 and $600,000.
Hell, if Phil Frei would post the annual surplus BEFORE he spends it down on un-budgeted "stuff" so he can make it LOOK like our surplus is much less than other districts, the annual SPASD surplus would MORE than cover the cost of supplies.

The tax levy last year was about $47.5 MILLION dollars.  What's an extra $500,000 on top of that?  Another 1% increase in the tax levy?  And all the while putting the $75 back in the pocket of many parents that need it most. argument we could potentially hear is that it's a way of passing on some school costs JUST to those taxpayers who have kids actively attending school.  Well, folks, when it comes to education, we're either all for one or not.  We don't parcel SOME of the costs to a few folks and have the entire city bear the burden of the rest.

Now...don't get us wrong....this is not a Sun Prairie problem.  It's not a state problem; it's a NATIONAL problem.  But, you know what...change has to start start somewhere.  Madison is starting something by providing free meals to all elementary kids district wide.  How about next year we be the first district to provide school supplies for every kid?

And hey, you SPARClers...instead of wanting the district to spend $80,000 to $100,000 annually on "snacks", why don't we buy their school supplies for them??!  Isn't THAT part of the "greater good"?

What's the down side?

Oh, wait....the local/national stores all advertise what we (and they) call "loss leaders".  Sure...they'll give you a notebook for 10 cents....because their plan is that once they get you inside, you'll spend a whole lot more cash on impulse purchases.
So...what's more important...putting money in the pocket of businesses?  Or doing what is logically right and just to cease a biased taxing practice?

The school district CAN buy these things cheaper!
It's a simple concept...buying in bulk gets you the best price.  And buying pencils by the gross instead of the dozen is what gets the best price.  AND....the district can purchase these things tax free!
Oh...wait....the governor probably wouldn't like that very much.  Less sales tax revenue and more property tax revenue.
But it's time to do what's right.

We say:  Speak up and tell the district that in budgeting for 2015-16, which begins in just a  few short months, you want them to budget to cover all school supplies for kids.