Thanks, DFO. Education has become the new "third rail" of American politics. No politician is going to say anything about education other than "I'm forking over more of the taxpayer's money." And, naturally, the money is never tied to something significant, such as results.
A few more comments.
* The meeting opened with what the board obviously feels is the most important challenge facing the District: declining enrollment. But they used the euphamism "flattening" enrollment. Truth is, enrollment is down and this affects the schools' funding. But what I found interesting is their list of reasons for the decline:
. New homes are being purchased by families without children
. Neighborning school districts are growing faster
. Affordability of housing is an issue
But they left out the most obvious reason: The education they offer sucks. No mention was made of the percentage of kids who are educated now at the Charter Academy or in K12 or those who could be in public schools who are in private/home schools. They just ignored that data! Why? Becuase it's the best barometer of how well education is educating. Better ignore the disease and dwell on the symptoms, eh?
* You see, it's not about education. It's about dollars. Money for the educrats. Money for the teacher's union. That's the bottom line, and the meeting proved it by avoiding the topic.
* The infamous "Impact on a Home with $250,000 TAV" slide. Comparing 2006 and 2007, the slide shows an actual tax reduction! Such a household paid $1,288.29 in school property taxes in 2006, but will pay only $1,069.86 in 2007! Yee ha! But it's misleading and sneaky. Here are the true numbers:
A $250K home in Kootenai County 2006 is valued at $340K in 2007, thanks to a 40% jump in evaluations. The school levy rate, which dropped to .00428 from .00515, puts that homes 2007 taxes at $1498, not $1069. That's an increase of -- SURPRISE! -- 40%!!
Bottom line: We saved the most by rejecting the SPFL levy. Yeah for us! The school district shaved $1.9M from their budget, which is bold for them but weak for us. It's only a 3% cut. So the board is admitting that there is fat in the budget, but they cut only enough to keep the educrats and teacher's union happy. (Again, it's not about education.)
The true problem is how the state allocates the M&O (Maintenance and Operation) funds. When property values go up, money from the state goes down. The schools get the same amount, just more from the property owner instead of the state. That amount has gone up this year by whatever precentage your home's assessment incrased.
* Yes, your property tax statement in November will be HUGE. It's going UP!
* Bottom line: We're screwed unless Governor Risch calls a special session to remove the M&O from the Property Tax rolls. It's a good move. It's good for Idaho, and it will be good for the schools.