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Archive for November 8th, 2007

Death and Taxes

Taxpayers may be on the cusp of a revolution in toney Maple Grove, Minnesota.

On Tuesday, Nov. 6, voters marched into their polling places and tepidly approved continuation of an existing school district levy, but also voted down two new proposals to increase taxes in order to update technology in the school system and maintain student fees for extracurriculars, like football and drama. The two measures failing to pass muster with residents didn’t go away lightly. District 279, of course, played every “woe is me” card in the book. But voters weren’t buying.

Just a few years ago, the school district received a positive vote on, what was then, the largest school bond issue to ever get approved in the State of Minnesota. It was $100-plus million in new funding. The scare tactics were rampant back then, as they were this year. But voters, which include parents of students attending these public schools, seem to have heard quite enough.

Should it really cost more than $9,000 per pupil to educate children in a public school? Minnesota school district administrators seem to think the sky is the limit. Today, the school district in the mid- to upper-middle class suburb of Maple Grove gets nearly $8,000 per pupil in funding from the state and an additional $850 per pupil from city tax levies. Administrators running the district wanted to tap taxpayers even further, to the tune of an additional $300-plus per pupil.

The thing residents see is that there is no end in sight to the bond referendums, tax levies and fees. How public schools get funded is broken. Reform is in order.

Of course the war didn’t end on Tuesday night. Wednesday morning brought principals to the public address systems of the schools they “run” to scare students. “When you go home tonight, tell your parents that next year’s activity fees will double.” Nice try.

Knowing that activity fees are the district’s way of further taxing residents who have kids in school, many parents – like me – will likely thumb their noses at this concept.

Go ahead District 279. Send me an invoice for the $180 you think I should pay so my daughter can participate in drama next fall. Just bill my neighbor for the $500 needed so his son can sit on the bench through the football season. And oh, by the way, we know the high schools, junior highs and elementary schools don’t get these fees directly. They go, instead, to the district administration office and individual schools only see a small pittance to assist with its programs.

Districts now govern in a feudal serf model and the citizens are wise and getting wiser.

The revolution is coming.

-end-

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