“Important Referendum Information” = “Give us more than $100 million” — 3/19/2011

March 19, 2011

The board’s campaign piece for the referendum landed today. It basically says that without approval of the referendum all sports, all clubs, more than 17 teachers, and other staff will go, that cuts are coming in math, science, English, foreign languages, social science, applied arts and physical education.

The mailer asserts this as fact, despite a majority of the board taking office in April.

[The part where they announce each kid will be issued a shovel on the back of which s/he will do their cypherin’, Lincoln-style, by the hearth fire, in lieu of 21st century accoutrements was cut — this time. I understand it might yet be added to a Board-produced, taxpayer-funded get-out-the-vote robo-call.]

As is the board’s now-established practice, it misleadingly — I believe falsely — claims “careful fiscal responsibility” as the explanation for 11 years since the last education fund referendum. Frankly, I am shocked they seek to dwell in the past like that.

Why ? It is not a comfortable place for them.

In fact, we nearly went broke in 2008. We got by when the board enacted a back-door $5.6 million tax hike on us with no referendum, over the demand of 1800 of us to have this fiscal conversation then. In the midst of this, the board signed a contract that is stunningly generous. Not necessarily a bad thing, but — ummmm — they did not have the money to pay for their generosity. That does not fit into the ‘fiscal responsibility’ arc, so the campaign managers air brush it out. How they find the gall to speak this way to neighbors is beyond me.

The fact is that except for Dr. David Bonnette, it’s not our neighbors. The campaign is being run by our employees. One has only to look at the latest Landmark. The reason generations of Illinois school officials left politics to the residents they serve is simple: No parent should ever face an iota of concern that her public statements as a citizen will ever impinge in any way on the education of her child. No one ever doubted the First Amendment rights of teachers or administrators. Rather, for the honor of serving they relinquished the choice to advocate for themselves, relying instead on the quality of their work to guide the community’s conversation.

That refinement, and indeed dignity, of teachers and administrators has been tossed out the window by many at RB this spring.

Let me quickly add that my RB child has benefitted from dignified and honorable teaching and administering at RB. But what of the parent who sees the photo in the paper and thinks twice about expressing himself ? Intimidation is insidious. RB has opened that door by crossing the line from information provider to activist advocate.

And what of the resentment voiced by many posters, many people all over town, that after RB’s teacher pay hikes of 05 to 08, the first series of five-percenters ‘to achieve parity’ with OPRF, LT and Hinsdale, only to be followed by the bonus deal of a lifetime, five years of more than five percenters for more than 30 percent overall… that it is time for teachers to acknowledge our reality as we have acknowledged theirs ?

Thanks to RB’s open-advocacy-for-more-taxes-on-us policy, resentments gets inflamed, some teachers and the community become further polarized, divisiveness reigns and questions about school management increase.

That’s especially depressing because our beef — the voters’ — is not with the teachers or their union. We are in the business of getting a sound board to run RB. In this, each of the remaining board members who approved the teacher’s bonus contract have helped us. Knowing the contract, referendum and community, they skipped facing us again. Does that strike anyone as an expression of faith in RB’s “fiscal responsibility” ?

RB’s campaign brochure completes an unwanted circle that started with David Bonnette presenting one non-referendum alternative — and only one — to the board and public. That is not presenting options, it is announcing an ultimatum. “Vote our way, or else.”

This community did not deserve that, just as it does not deserve a campaign brochure on tax dollars produced by David, Pam and Tim, the same folks showing up at the erstwhile Paw and Cyberdog to run literature blitzes to tell us we do not pay enough.

(Public FOIA request: Do we still own that building? If not, how much did we get for selling it? End public FOIA request.)

It’s a sad point we have reached. Everyone thought David would straighten the place out. Instead it’s hijinx as usual. The ballot question, the illegal ad, the tax dollar mailer, smearing the line between information and advocacy, tables in the school manned by board members and staffers, and on and on.

April 5th cannot come soon enough.

I know because the RB board used my money to tell me so.

POSTED SATURDAY MAR 19, 2011 15:53 #
Explore posts in the same categories: Riverside Brokfield High School -- Referendum

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