Thursday, June 21, 2007

The West Bend referendum: a chance to guarantee the future.

The West Bend School board is going to ask for a funding increase to help us catch up with our neighboring communities and keep our students competitive. Charlie Hillman, our capable and clear-headed school board president made this clear to the Journal.

West Bend has one of the lowest per-student costs of all state districts, and the district's property tax rate is below its neighbors, such as Cedarburg, Slinger and Germantown, Hillman said.

Approving the referendum would add about $1.80 per $1,000 of equalized value to the district's current tax rate of $6.35 per thousand, according to Hillman. At $8.15 per thousand, West Bend would remain below the statewide average school district tax rate.

Charlie also showed up in Mike Nichols column on Sunday making the compelling argument that, while the referendum might be a bit of a long shot, he believes it is possible and necessary. He's right.

Hillman points out that both per pupil spending and the tax rate in the district are far, far below average. He also points out that, even if the referendum passes, the rate will remain below average.

So, it's cost effective, will still keep our rates low, and -- and here's the only important thing -- it will make sure our kids get the kind of education that will keep them competitive in the global marketplace.

Listen up folks: I just got back from a month in Shanghai, China and it's lit a fire under me. The Chinese now have a middle class nearly the size of our entire population, most of them speak pretty good English, they're taking capitalism serioiusly and, most alarming of all, they're optimistic about their future. They think they could be the next America. If we do nothing, they will be.

Most school age kids in that middle class (because of the One Child Policy) have four grandparents and no cousins. All four grandparents focus their whole attention on the well being of that one grandchild. I can tell you from first hand experience that they spend every waking hour doing nothing but making sure that kid has a great education and will be prepared for the future.

If we scrimp on educating our next generation... well, hell, anyone can do the math from here.


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