Monday, April 14, 2008

Bait and Switch?

The Rapid City Weekly finally gave us details about what's up with the Rapid City Schools Budget this evening. Finally some straight info.

Eric Abrahamson (State House candidate in 32-Rapid City) named the real reason we're in hot water:
Abrahamson said once it became obvious the Legislature and Rounds were not going to alter the state funding formula for schools, it was apparent that Rapid City’s schools would be in a financial mess.

I thought this was interesting:
Wharton said the district may prepare two preliminary budgets: one with the cuts and one with revenue from an opt out. The next several months will offer a tremendous challenge, he said.
If this sounds like strong-arm tactics to take your money, consider these facts:
  1. We in RC have never voted to opt-out and raise our school taxes above the state's formula, although 70 (almost half) of SD's school districts have already given up on the Legislature to hold up their end of the deal and opted out
  2. The legislature and Rounds criticized districts for stockpiling a large reserve fund while not properly compensating teachers (remember this is a state government sitting on a billion of tobacco money, in the People's Trust Fund, basically in stocks instead of our kids!) Good luck with that.
  3. Wes Storm, an opt-out proponent, points out that opt-out taxes stay here--instead of sent out to help out other school districts.
  4. We're not talking about a huge tax increase here; Storm has pointed out that someone with an $100,000 house would pay $49/yr extra taxes to get us $1 million that we have control over.
  5. If we don't solve this, we will lose the teacher labor market to Wyoming and retirements. How do you recruit new teachers when they could make the same working less hours elsewhere?

If the Legislature doesn't do their part, how will be educate our kids? I need to learn more before I have an opinion about the opt-out deal, but we sure have a problem to solve.

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