Willmar- StudentsFirst Position Statement October 17, 2011
Willmar-StudentsFirst Opposes the Property Tax Levy – Vote “NO” on November 8th
The current model for education funding is unsustainable and requires change. Willmar School District displays neither inclination nor statement to the community of support for
education reform. The District opted-out when their involvement at the state level could have been meaningful. Support for the property tax levy, at this time and under these circumstances, unfortunately would be a rubber stamp for “Business as Usual.”
Teacher Union Contract negotiations - Willmar-StudentsFirst has been urging (since March) the District to initiate and complete contract negotiations prior to asking voters to approve a tax increase (renewal). 77% of the District’s expense is wages and benefits; it is unfair to ask voters to blindly approve this inaction.
Voting locations slashed to one - Nineteen (19) regular voting locations have been reduced to one(1) polling place. Outlying towns like Kandiyohi,Svea, Blomkest, and Pennock can only vote at WEAC in downtown Willmar. Those who typically have limited support for Tax Increases have been denied normal access to voting. This disenfranchisement is undemocratic and manipulative.
Productivity gains are essential – Willmar-StudentsFirst has urged the District to seek productivity gains in Contract negotiations, including “a full day’s work for a full day’s pay”, i.e., an 8 hour work day, and removal of 1/3 extra pay for a 4th class at the high
school. We need a balanced approach to accomplish education reform.
Scare tactics aren’t called for - Use of “catastrophic” and warnings that “once programs are removed, they are not going to be able to be restored” is a scare tactic to urge
more funding. This is not meaningful dialogue to produce change that benefits the students. Opting to eliminate the high profile “Marching Band” to make a funding point, hurts students and strengthens opposition. Intelligent decisions evaluating all alternatives are called for. Management needs to become engaged, supervise, and be held responsible for outcomes.
Advocate education reform -The Board complains unfunded mandates cost too much, but the Board is politically inactive to advocate change within the community and with politicians. The 2011 Legislation initiating principal and teacher evaluations was met with
complaints by school management, not celebrating the potential to positively improve education to our students. Throwing more money at education has historically not bought results.
Transparency needs to be improved – There is resistance to providing information to the public, e.g., the Garfield School sale strategy, was so veiled it has impacted confidence.
See the blog for more details – http://willmarstudentsfirst.areavoices.com
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