"But if it is believed that these elementary schools will be better managed by...any other general authority of the government, than by the parents within each ward [district], it is a belief against all experience." --Thomas Jefferson

Monday, October 27, 2014

Why Have a School Board? Taxation without Representation

What my opponent got wrong. 

From her post:
What would our school district look like if my opponent’s votes had the support of the majority of the School Board?

Monthly bills would have gone unpaid more than 30 months in the 4 years she has served.
The Board, by law, receives a report on a monthly basis of what HAS ALREADY BEEN PAID.  Four school districts in the state do not take any formal action on the claims.  My substitute motions were always to 'accept' the claims instead of 'approving' them.  I can accept them, but I don't have enough information to approve them.  After two years, with two new board members, we now accept the claims.  I have voted 'yes' on all 'acceptance' of the claims.  I will never vote to approve something that I cannot personally stand behind and support.

No annual budgets would have been approved, so maintenance and operation funds would not be approved to be used by schools.
Annual budgets must be approved by June 22 of every year.  A budget would have been approved, but if the majority had agreed with me, we wouldn't have spent $75,000 for a party or nearly $42,000 of your money on dues for the Board and Superintendent.  Instead, we would have had more teachers and/or aides in the classroom, a lower tax rate, and discussions of important budget issues by board members BEFORE the money is allocated.

We would not have had the financial ability to accommodate growth, so class sizes would have been even larger.
This might reference the 2013-14 budget where I voted against a tax rate increase and against a salary increase for our Superintendent and our Business Administrator.  It's wrong to ask the people for more money in taxes and then pay your top administrators more.  I suggested that the Board pay the Superintendent and the Business Administrator a modest increase out of our own salaries. 

Taxes on our local residents would have to be raised to compensate for withdrawal from ANY Federal funding.
Many Federal programs cost so much to implement that there isn't a benefit.  I have never moved to get away from ANY Federal funding. Federal Special Education funds, in particular, are severely constrained by federal strings, impacting our ability to 'plug holes'.  When the federal strings impacts our kids, it's important to look at what our options are.  I have supported requests asking for an analysis of the costs vs. benefits of our different federal programs.  Our federal strings give us 6% of our budget, but control a lot more than 6% of what we do.  We need to know if the benefit of the funding is worth the cost of the strings. 

Our schools would be subjected to the federal No Child Left Behind standards and labeled as failing.
Under No Child Left Behind, all schools are failing this year.  That's not anyone's fault but Congress'.  The waiver magnanimously provided by the US Dept of Education included 'assurances' that violate No Child Left Behind.  I supported the Waiver submitted by our State Board of Education that is allowing us to get out from under the egregious penalties of No Child Left Behind and still retain our state's control over education, as legally REQUIRED under No Child Left Behind.

Extracurricular activities that serve students and address their needs would be limited to ONLY what the school board wants to offer.
If a club is illegal under state law, it is the duty of the local school board to limit or deny that club.  I asked that the Board, not just our administration, consult with legal counsel.  If the majority had agreed, we would have been able to go forward knowing, legally, where we stood, instead of hoping that someone doesn't sue us.

Benefits for teachers would be reduced or eliminated
I have never voted to reduce or eliminate benefits for teachers and I never would. I have supported every single salary increase or bonus given to teachers. 

If the Board isn't supposed to weigh in and represent the various views of the community on these many issues, then why have a school board at all?  I support public education.  I support the public, not just funding education, but having a say in what that education looks like through their local board members.  Otherwise, a board, rubber stamping whatever is proposed, is just taxation without representation.

Utah Law: Duties of a Business Administrator
By contrast, I have found nothing in the duties of the school board that say we have to approve all of these expenses that have already conformed to our policies.

Claims discussion:
(download the study session audio file)

2014 Budget Discussion:
(Scroll down to additional media, listen to the Board meeting, my motion is at 47 min in)

No Child Left Behind
See Sec. 9401: Waivers (who can do them and what is required)
and Sec. 9527: Prohibitions on Federal Government...

My letter to the  Utah State School Board on the NCLB Waiver

Utah Law: School Clubs

2014 School Clubs motion for legal counsel
(Scroll down to additional media, listen to the Board meeting, beginning at 16 min, 50 sec)

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