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Curmudgeon's Corner

cur-mud-geon: anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity to say so; anyone with the habit of pointing out unpleasant facts in an engaging and humorous manner

Germantown School District...

Economy, Education, Germantown, Political, Quality of Life, School Board, Taxes

I received an email from a regular reader this morning asking me what my opinion was concerning the announcement that the elementary school bond issue will be back on the November ballot.  He forced me to give thought to something I had managed to push from my mind for about a week, but that hiatus is over.

First, let me say that I think the district has had a poor public relations week.  The announcement that the bond issue, apparently unchanged, is expected to be on the ballot in November was probably awkward enough.  Then, we learn of the expected budget deficit for the current year, and we learn that the proposed budget will require a property tax increase if approved as explained.

I've not engaged anyone from the district on the subject of the reappearance of the bond issue, and have had no contact regarding budget shortfalls.

There was some analysis done as the result of the spring election where the bond issue was defeated.  That apparently showed some interesting results when reviewed area by area.  Remember that the Germantown School District encompasses more than simply the Village of Germantown.  The most recent election apparently showed results indicating that some non-village areas were quite opposed while the village proper was more evenly split, or at least that is my recollection.

My supposition, and it is only that, is this:  November will see a significantly higher turn-out of voters.  The district may have reasoned that this will be a 'fairer' review of the proposal and it may have reasoned that the outlying non-village areas' votes might be outweighed by greater village turn-out, desiring to take its chances on that populations' decision this time around.

Beyond this, the budget deficit is understandable given the economic conditions we're experiencing.  Energy and food costs are up significantly and those are the primary areas identified as the 'culprits' in the budget shortfall.  The fact that preliminary budget numbers for the next period are reflecting the need for greater revenue is not surprising on its face.  The amount of the deficit and the amount of the need for the next period will be of more interest.  The tactics employed by the school board and the district administration in meeting these issues will be very informative.  We are in a superintendent 'lame duck' position and the new person selected will have had little, if any, substantial input by the time hiring decisions have been taken.

I must say that I'm disappointed with this confluence of events.  I don't know what, if any, press releases may have been issued on the bond issue decision.  If there were such releases, there is little indication of that fact since the news was simply dropped in our laps without forewarning or preparation for receipt of the news.  Then, to see the news about the current and prospective budgets pop up within days, citizens were subjected to what in our small world is tantamount to a 'media blitz'.

I fear that some significant damage has been done to the district's credibility on both issues whether or not deserved.  Those opposed to the bond issue have a ready-made counter offensive dropped into their laps.  Those who favored the bond issue have been embarrassed, self included.

All the old bromides about school boards being more interested in buildings than students, etc., etc. will be front and center during the election season.  And, frankly, the district has brought that unto itself whether through arrogance or ignorance or simple mishandling.

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