April 20, 2014 from The Journal Times Editorial Board:
Journal Times editorial: Unified referendum has promise, but shouldn’t be forever
This month, Racine Unified School District officials proposed a $7 million recurring referendum to help address the district’s $128 million in backlogged maintenance projects and need to modernize buildings.
The plans sound promising. They include expanding enrollment at magnet schools and moving Olympia Brown Elementary School, 5915 Erie St., to a school to be built on land the district owns along 5ƒ Mile Road. There are also plans to expand Gifford Elementary School, 8332 Northwestern Ave., to turn the school into a combined elementary and middle school.
Unfortunately, a recurring referendum means there is no end date. Even after the district’s wish list is completed, taxpayers would continue to be on the hook for $7 million annually and indefinitely.
Somebody needs to remind RUSD that:
The Power to Tax Is the Power to Destroy
-(1755 – 1835)
When does the RUSD School Board get spending and costs under control, instead of going to the same old playbook of demanding more? Why has RUSD put off maintenance and NOT taken care of the legacy infrastructure bequeathed it? Tax monies collected over the decades since RUSD was granted taxing authority were to provide for salaries, benefits AND proper school maintenance, including future investments! When will RUSD stop viewing the Community and it’s People as anything but a Cash Cow to Milk for THEIR financial benefit and demands?
It’s what’s REALLY on a RUSD Members mind! Especially those in Administration!
While the People of Racine in the private sector face massive unemployment, decreasing wages, decreasing benefits, increasing taxes from all taxing authorities, increased costs for products and services, fuel poverty, and some of the highest tax rates in Wisconsin, Racine Unified School District finds itself unable to re-arrange it’s budget, which is greater than a quarter of a billion dollars, and make some sacrifices in wages and benefits, so ALL can financially survive together, not just the select few who are abusing their taxing authority and yet still demand more! The uncontrolled tax and spend policies of RUSD is one of the leading causes of poverty and business failures in South East Wisconsin and explains why Racine can’t compete for new Businesses in the Global Market reality of the 21st. Century.
Government taxes and policy have all but driven out the last few vestiges of the legacy large scale manufacturing employers out of South East Wisconsin and into other States and Countries with less taxing policies. It is now time for RUSD to become lean and mean and learn to do with less while reducing wages and tax-free benefit packages!
The County of Racine’s Largest Employers, from RCEDC. Where have all the large private employers gone that pay the taxes that make high wages and benefits in local government possible?
Do you see the problem with the above? Remember that the “Health Care Industry” is largely funded by government subsidies and programs while it pays huge salaries and bonuses to healthcare Executives and Administrators while claiming TAX-EXEMPT status. S.C. Johnson just laid off 400 and CNH closed down and demolished their foundry in Mt. Pleasant and moved one of their operations out of Downtown Racine, leaving yet another empty building behind to be demolished. This leaves fewer and fewer private employers who actually generate income without government subsidies or dependent upon taxing authority to pay the bills. NOTE: Gordy Kacala, the former Executive Director of RCEDC has already admitted that the numbers of employees they show for private employers are inaccurate and likely too high.
From the official RUSD website:
Do People in the Racine Unified School District realize just how large a budget David Hazen commands? The 2014 Budget is $302,138,067!
RUSD is now demanding the authority to levy $7,000,000 more per year, with no end in sight, to fund more operations and activities because $302,138,067 isn’t enough! THAT’S PREPOSTEROUS! RUSD obviously failed math, because somehow, in THIS economy, they can’t find a way to eke $7,000,000 from a budget of $302,138,067! David Hazen and the School Board only need to find ways to cut a bit here and a bit there and they have their $7,000,000, instead of endlessly looting the Community. $7,000,000 is a mere 2.3% of the $302,138,067 budget!
How about cutting those outrageous Staff Salaries and huge Tax-Free Benefit packages? This is Racine Unified School District, an impoverished and largely unemployed Community that is being looted by taxing authorities, and NOT J.P. Morgan and Chase Manhattan Bank!
Below, is reproduced the 2012-2013 Salaries and Benefits of the RUSD Administration Staff. The source of the information is the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. Click HERE for link to DPI. Note for clarification – the data is provided in an Excel Spreadsheet and I manipulated it so that the TOTAL salaries and benefits of those who are employed in more than one position appear in the salary and benefits column, so while the same name will appear more than once for some positions, the salary and benefit package is the total for ALL positions, NOT pro-rated. Go to the DPI link provided above and you can manipulate the data yourself. Remember, BENEFITS are TAX-FREE!
No one will deny that RUSD Teachers work hard, but then who doesn’t, especially the working poor? Of course, hard work doesn’t apply to the grossly overpaid Administrative Staff and Politicians! Quite clearly too many are in it for the money and Summer vacation, or else they wouldn’t hold a Community hostage and loot the people who live in that Community. Below is the average salary and tax-free benefit package of the average RUSD Teacher. They have nothing to complain about, but many do.
Does RUSD and it’s new Superintendent Lolli Haws talk out of both sides of their mouth at the same time? Is this endless $7,000,000 referendum just another resurrection of the nearly Billion Dollar North Star plan of former Superintendent Jim Shaw? It seems so, because building more infrastructure only results in more costs and more staff needed to fill more positions. RUSD is merely looking to increase it’s spending and authority, even as Racine County is in a steep economic decline! That’s INSANITY!
Meet Lolli Haws:
December 24,2013 from The Journal Times:
RACINE — She came from Washinton, D.C., as the only publicly announced finalist for Racine Unified’s top job and in just six months she initiated an ambitious plan that calls for changing classroom instruction, high school structure, teacher pay and much, much more.
She is Lolli Haws and she’s been Unified’s superintendent since July 1.
Haws was overseeing student instruction in 13 of the Washington, D.C., public school system’s 123 schools when she applied to lead Unified. The Unified School Board privately interviewed seven of more than 60 candidates, then announced Haws as its only finalist in February.
The move angered district union leaders, who said employees had no input. Board members responded that district staff and the public would still have a chance to vet Haws before she was actually hired.
Employees were invited to meetings with Haws and a public question-and-answer session with her was held in late February. The board approved her contract — which included an initial annual salary of $200,000 plus other benefits — in April.
The plan identifies three priorities: raising student achievement, closing achievement gaps and creating positive learning environments for all schools. It calls for specialized curricular materials, more training for teachers, goal-targeted budgeting, reduced class sizes, a salary model that pays the best teachers a bit more and dividing Unified’s three largest high schools into smaller themed academies, among other changes.
Haws called the plan “Raising Racine.”
Well, Ms. Haws has certainly Raised Racine, from her initial talk about fiscal responsibility (goal-targeted budgeting) to resurrecting the dreams of Jim Shaw and undergoing major construction projects, in a Community that simply can’t afford it! This is Racine, NOT Washington D.C.
But then again, Ms. Haws started out speaking like she was going to be fiscally responsible, because as she noted, PERCEPTION, as OPPOSED to REALITY is what is important. Geez, that’s a line straight out of John Dickert’s mouth, do they all read the same script?
February 21,2013 from The Mt. Pleasant Patch:
Working with the budget
Haws believes two sides of the same coin waste the most money. First, the belief that throwing money at a problem fixes it. Instead, she says districts should set priorities and use funds wisely. The second problem is jumping from one big idea to the next, without proper vetting and evaluation of the programs that were used.
“Fixing problems sometimes takes no money at all, but you have to set really astute priorities to use money wisely and for the best interests of students,” Haws said.
Instead of wanting to improve education with pricey programs and then abandoning them for something newer when they don’t work quickly, she said it is important to find out if the program you thought would work is really being used in the manner in which it was designed.
Lolli Haws, who is now asking for the taxpayers to give her $7,000,000 more a year without end, ACTUALLY said the above! Thus providing the taxpayers with the perception that she would be fiscally responsible! Smoke and Mirrors again! It’s all about PERCEPTION and NOT dealing with Racine Economic Reality!
Racine Unified’s image problem
“Perception is everything,” Haws said about how she would evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the district. “It’s how we judge quality that matters.”
There’s THAT “Perception” thing again! How about REALITY? RUSD needs to begin cutting salaries and benefits and cutting in other areas before they bankrupt the entire District! While the Working People of America are having their Wages and Benefits adjusted DOWN, to fit the reality of the 21st. Global Economy, Government workers are seemingly immune as they race each other to the top. One overpaid government worker points to another overpaid government worker and demands MORE! That is the primary reason why taxes keep rising and Communities are being financially devastated.
The District Administrators Race to be #1. 2012-2013 School Year. This information is prior to Lolli Haws being appointed District Administrator, nor is that data available yet from DPI. In 2012-2013 Anna Laing was the District Administrator. Her benefit package is low because she was already receiving a retirement package from RUSD, i.e. Double Dipping.
And what is the future of Brick and Mortar schools, along with overpaid Administrators and group classrooms in the Twenty-First Century? There is NO future in that quaint Nineteenth Century thinking.
Khan Academy is a non-profit educational website created in 2006 by educator Salman Khan to provide “a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere.”
January 9, 2014 from Cognoscenti:
Khan Academy, an educational website created in 2006 by a former hedge fund manager, currently provides free online lessons to over 10 million students per month. With access to over 5,000 videos and 100,000 practice problems, students receive instruction in virtually every subject, including history, literature, math, physics, economics, chemistry, and even cosmology and astronomy. The rapid growth of Khan Academy raises a serious question: If Khan Academy, just one of among many similar sites, can deliver personalized content in a faster, cheaper, and more effective manner than our current model, would the billions of dollars that states spend on teaching salaries each year be better used to equip each student in America with a brand new personal computer? To push even further, are teachers in brick-and-mortar schools even necessary?
Charles Hugh Smith discusses the coming revolution in higher education; The Nearly Free University
Our broken education model is ripe for creative disruption
The cost of higher education has skyrocketed in recent decades. The average cost of tuition is up over 1,000% since the 1980s, far outstripping price inflation and most other goods and services.
Yet despite the accelerated cost, the value of a college degree has been diminishing, both in the terms of quality of education received and future employment prospects.
In his new book, The Nearly Free University, Charles Hugh Smith takes a critical look at the state of education in the developed world and claims that it is ripe for creative disruption. There are new models and new enabling technologies that promise to deliver more effective learning at much lower cost, but they challenge a very entrenched establishment, meaning that the system will likely fight these innovations.
RUSD doesn’t have a revenue problem. RUSD has a SPENDING PROBLEM compounded by MISPLACED PRIORITIES! Just say NO to RUSD! They need to find what they need by adjusting the budget to fit the economic reality of Racine, OR abolish RUSD! It is a failed Institution whose time is approaching as they become more and more taxing, until they tax their tax base out of existence!
From Zero Hedge:
The Death Cross Of American Business
So much for the recovery… As WaPo reports, the American economy is less entrepreneurial now than at any point in the last three decades. A rather damning new Brookings Institution report shows that US businesses are being destroyed faster than they’re being created. As the authors of the report ominously explain: If the decline persists, “it implies a continuation of slow growth for the indefinite future,” as new business creation has been cut in half since 1978.
Keep taxing those Businesses out of existence, meanwhile. more from Zero Hedge:
One Million People Dropped Out Of Labor Force In April: Participation Rate Plummets To Lowest Since 1978
And so the BLS is back to its old data fudging, because while the Establishment Survey job number was a whopper, and the biggest monthly addition since January 2012, the Household Survey showed an actual decline of 73K jobs. What is much worse, is that the reason the unemployment rate tumbled is well-known: it was entirely due to the number of Americans dropping out of the labor force. To wit, the labor force participation rate crashed from 63.2% to 62.8%, trying for lowest since January 1978! And why did it crash so much – because the number of people not in the labor force soared to 92 million, the second highest monthly increase ever, or 988K, only ‘better’ than January 2012 which curiously was the one month when the establishment survey reported a 360K “increase” in jobs.
End result: the number out of the labor force is now an all time high 92 million, and the labor force tumbled by 800K to 155.4 million from 156.2 million as the delayed effect of the extended jobless benefits ending finally hits. What is most amusing is that the “persons who currently want a job” was unchanged at 6,146K – even the BLS said it was “puzzled why so many unemployed people are not looking for jobs.” We have some ideas, and no, they don’t include the addition of 234K “birth/death adjustment” jobs.
People not in the labor force:
The Power to Tax Is the Power to Destroy
-(1755 – 1835)
Note: Navigating the DPI website to obtain the data provided above can be confusing. Follow these instructions to successfully find the data:
1. Click HERE to access the: School Staff: Salary, Position & Demographic Reports
2. Scroll down to: Salary Reports, and click on the year you wish to view.
3. Click on OPEN with Microsoft Office Excel
4. The Spreadsheet will open like this:
5. Then you can view and manipulate the data in Microsoft Excel.