Monday, October 30, 2006
TWO GOOD TAKES ON REFERENDUM 422
BY ANGIE PALMER, THE 'PAULA REVERE'
OF NEBRASKA'S SMALL SCHOOL ARMY
Here are two excellent letters to the editor written by Nebraskan Angie Palmer, a researcher and activist supporting Nebraska's rural grade schools and the repeal of LB 126 on the Nov. 7 ballot as Referendum 422:
When LB 126 was passed, we were told that Nebraska had too many school districts. According to the Legislature, we needed to eliminate districts to save money. Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way.
Today we have 339 fewer school districts than we did in 1999 and 1500 less students. Despite this fact, Nebraska employs nearly 700 more teachers and 100 more administrators and principals. The cost per pupil has skyrocketed. Fewer districts, but the costs are higher.
Another example of higher costs can be seen in counties with one or two school districts. The districts in these counties cost as much as $9000 more per pupil than the state average. Again fewer districts, but the costs are higher.
The Legislature said that eliminating Class I schools would save Nebraska taxpayers over $12 million. This is simply not true. LB 126 is costing Nebraska taxpayers $30 to $45 million more. Once again fewer districts, but the costs are higher.
So what are we gaining from eliminating districts? We are gaining higher taxes, more time spent traveling to school, dwindling opportunities for students, and less local control.
On November 7 tell the Legislature "no thanks" and vote "repeal" on Referendum 422 to take back control of your school and your taxes.
When LB 126, the Legislative bill that dissolved Class I schools, was passed in the Legislature in 2005, it was touted as a way to improve efficiency. However, the law has done just the opposite in Nebraska and in Phelps County.
A recent Citizen article reported on comments that Holdrege Public Schools' superintendent, Cinde Wendell, made at a recent school board meeting. Supt. Wendell stated that Holdrege Public Schools is facing financial issues because of the assimilation of the rural schools under LB 126. Holdrege's financial problems can be eliminated simply by voting "repeal" on Referendum 422 on November 7th.
LB 126 forced the dissolution of all Class I districts (rural elementary-only schools). Prior to the passage of this bill, six K-12 schools contributed to the financial obligations of Funk, R-4, and R-7 in proportion to the amount of land valuation that was affiliated with each K-12. However, under LB 126 Holdrege is now solely responsible for the cost of operating all three of these schools. Over $92 million in land valuation is no longer used to help operate these schools.
LB 126 was supposed to save $12.7 million. However, at a recent education conference it was revealed that dissolving Nebraska Class I schools will cost taxpayers between $30 and $45 million more than it cost for Class I schools to operate independently. How is this efficient?
Eliminate Holdrege's financial problems by voting "Repeal" on Referendum 422. Take Back Local Control. It's about your kids, your schools, your choice and your taxes.
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