A Letter to the Editor:
The greatest idiom ever published with regard to what ultimately happens to most all governmental entities is, “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Never has this forecast of governmental action been more clearly displayed than at the June 19 district 5 school District board meeting.
To fully grasp the context of this District 5 power grab with it’s total disregard of public input, just turn he clock back to 2006. During that, D5 was campaigning to build more schools, especially a new elementary school. D5 held a bond referendum on the issue and it was voted down 72 percent to 28 percent. In 2007, D5 again pushed for a $135 million bond referendum so a new elementary school could be built. The bond referendum failed again.
At this point, new superintendent, Herb Berg picked up the “We gotta build more schools” mantra. Why? Because the D5 school Board and Superintendent were forecasting school attendance would be 25,000 by 2018. According to D5, at this time, if the $243 million school Board referendum wouldn’t past, D5 may as well have to go to 12 month school Years. The only way to prevent this was to build a new elementary school and other building upgrades.
The Bond referendum finally passed but the “Mandatory new elementary school ” was never built. (This was the new elementary school that Dr. Hefner stated as being approved by passing the 2008 bond referendum. In fact, the majority of the $243 million was spent on other non classroom things such as a new field house and fine arts center.
Did this happen? The 2008 bond referendum passed on D5’s forecast of student growth to 25,000 in 2018. That’s a 10 year growth rate of 51 percent. Instead, D5 has had a 10 year growth of just 255 students. That’s just 1.5 percent. Consequently, the D5 board has had $243 million to spend on what ever they wished and don’t have to justify one penny to the taxpayers.
So, here’s how “school board power corrupts absolutely.” Robert Gantt and Ed White recognized in 2008 bond referendums are hard to sell to the public because they have to justify each expenditure and with their $243 million spending spree, that’s impossible. Hence, the Gantt/White school spending plan is to raise property taxes to the max each year. They don’t raise taxes in an election year but Act 388 allows them to recoup the missed taxes in the following years. They did just that two years ago. They now have $37 million in the fund balance. This way, they can build anything they want without having to justify to the voter.
The Gantt/White school financial plan is to never again allow D5 citizens the ability to vote on school building projects.