Over the past few years, it seems that public education in general has come under "attack" by some private citizens, taxpayer groups and state legislators.
Why would that be?
It's a direct result of a general lack of financial accountability on the parts of local school districts. The solution: Demonstrate Accountability and be rewarded with generousity on the parts of those who make funding decisions.
What do I mean by "accountability?"
Any public entity that is funded with public dollars needs to be able to account for its spending. That spending will be scrutinized by taxpayers. If taxpayers don't like what they see, they will oppose future funding.
Here's an analogy. Your kid needs a haircut. You give him $$ to get a haircut. Two days later, he still needs a haircut, but has a new (game, clothing, makeup, whatever.) The money is gone, but the hair is still a mess.
What do you do? Give him MORE MONEY? Of course not. You reduce his funding because he was not accountable to you, and your scrutiny of his spending revealed WASTE, or at least, poor judgement.
Likewise, many of Michigan's taxpayers are responding to perceived waste among the state's 550 local school districts. They are asking their state legislators to reduce funding to public schools because they want to limit the amount of WASTE.
How do you turn this trend around? Local school districts should do what their taxpayers want them to do.
What do taxpayers want?
We want school board Trustees who are accountable to us. Lately, we've seen some spending similar to that of the shaggy teenager, mentioned above.
We want our local school boards spend public money carefully and wisely, in ways that benefit our students and boost education outcomes. If we pay premium local taxes to support schools, we want to have education outcomes that correllate to that premium funding. We want superior schools for our superior financial support.
Now, if you think that $70,000 was a lot to pay for a single-issue election in May, you may be correct. Please know that a May election for financial issues is legal in the state of Michigan, and if you have a problem with that, you should contact your state legislator. I think a well-developed, reasonable plan for school construction can pass in an even-year Nov. general election.
If you think that money from the 2004 Sinking Fund has been mis-spent, that's another issue for your state legislator. Legislation that supports the legality of Sinking Funds is flawed, in my opinion. Once sinking fund money is in the control of a local school board, the Trustees of that board have the authority to spend it, on any facilities-related items, including consultants, as they see fit.
I think the very first expenditures from the 2004 Sinking fund should have been rubber membrane roofs for both Lahser and Andover. Both schools continued to leak, while new sports fields were installed, with Sinking fund dollars.
Taxpayers around here want to put education FIRST.
Yes: School board Trustees have the authority to spend public money. They are elected to make spending decisions on our behalf.
And yes, the public has the authority to hold them accountable for how that money is spent.