Of all the dumb things Red Plan supporters say one particularly stands out. It has been repeated by Rep. Tom Huntley who ought to know better. These folks say that since County Boards and City Councils can raise taxes without asking the permission of voters in a referendum School Boards should be able to do the same.
If we were talking about operational money I might agree. For the past 15 years school district’s have had to offer bonding for classroom operations to local voters when they want to have more than the state’s formula for school general funds allows them to levy. These “excess levies” are now called simply “operational levies.” Any school board that doesn’t have a good reason to offer a levy or that has lost the trust of its community shouldn’t even bother with one because these levies are hard enough to pass when everything is going well.
You can make a strong argument that its unfair for School Boards to have to appeal to the whim of voters for money that may be necessary to keep up with what neighboring districts are able to offer. But, that’s the way it is and it should have been taken into account. Our Board did no such thing.
Supporters of the Red Plan like Huntley are trying to apply their argument to capital bonding which is an entirely different kettle of carp. The Red Plan is being financed with capitol bonds or bonds to finance building construction. For over a hundred years in almost every city, in almost every state, local folks have had the right to vote such bonds up or down.
The irony is that by depriving local voters of exercising their right to vote on the Red Plan (the biggest school construction project ever in state history) Rep. Huntley and the School Board have almost certainly doomed the operations levy. Tom was one of the legislators who could have helped prevent this looming disaster had he sided with local voters. He chose instead to side with their inept and ignorant school board.
I’ve been on school boards that had to make some staggeringly difficult cuts for our schools but if this operations levy fails to pass the cuts made will make the ones I made look like child’s play. It may take a decade for our schools and our city to recover.