Well, it’s school levy season again and Aberdeen School District supporters are busy spending money and sending postcards in hopes of passing the proposed 2014-2015 M&O Levy (that’s short for Maintenance and Operations). On their website they have included the usual talking points such as support of the music program, maintenance of school buses and student transportation (including fuel), support of athletics and other activities, yada yada yada.
The marketing is actually old, stale and very inaccurate. Items such as the maintenance of school buses and student transportation (including fuel) might lead one to believe that they couldn’t afford gas if it wasn’t passed. They mention support of the music program, but I have yet to see the district supply music instruments to all students. What exactly is the definition of support here? Same question applies to the athletics programs. There are lots of fees that have to be paid by parents for a student to play sports, so specifically what kind of support are they talking about? What is the direct benefit to the students of these funds?
Why can’t we find a copy of the teachers’ contract on the district’s website? Why is there no copy of a budget on the District 5 website? All of these things are public information and should be accessible to all. Has anyone ever really researched the school levy system and asked for a line-item accounting of proposed expenditures? Has anyone heard of levy funded wage enhancements? According to the Freedom Foundation, levy-for-pay-increases in the 2013 school year, Aberdeen School District spent 20 percent of its levy money on enhanced wages for school staff, which amounts to a whopping $1,514,926 per year. Where is this mentioned in any of the literature they are handing out? The entity sending out the marketing postcards, in this case Aberdeen Citizens for Schools, is not being completely honest with the voters. There is no mention of salary increases or enhancement (additional vacation days, sick days, etc.) for teachers anywhere in any of the levy information I found in my mailbox. We, as voters, deserve the whole story.
So when the Aberdeen Citizens for Schools tells you how much levy money goes “to the classroom,” keep in mind that a good percentage of it may be going to the bank account of the person in the classroom and not to any additional help for students.