No more property tax increases for government schools

By J. Dyer

I have read the “public school” commentaries in the Sentinel over the past weeks. They document over a decade of fiscal failures perpetrated by public school officials.

A new set of public school officials is studying these failures. The basic conclusions of these current official studies are:

1. the current situation is not their fault, and

2. all options, except raising our taxes, are not acceptable options to them because they are troublesome and hurt them too much.

Government school bureaucrats are in a tough spot. It may be true that some of this mess may not be the current administration’s fault. It also may be true that all government school employees were not and are not in favor of how past and present school budgets have been handled. The problem is that these bureaucrats insist on taking the burden of their habitual fiscal mismanagement off their backs by placing it on ours with increased property taxes.

When government can tax property, it has the power to take away that property. When a government is fiscally irresponsible, the threat to property owners becomes exceptionally dangerous. Government bureaucrats plead, scare, threaten and deceive property owners into approving “little” tax increases year after year, but they never stop their excessive spending.

Those property tax increases add up to threatening financial burdens for people with limited resources. It is shameful for a group of people to endanger their neighbors’ home ownership in order for their organization to forego the consequences of their financial irresponsibility.

Examples of the district’s financial irresponsibility were displayed in their own editorials. One of the editorials described how the district spends maintenance money. The district is allotted $272,000/year for maintenance. The district spends $630,000 each year on maintenance worker salaries and benefits alone. That is 231% over budget without spending a penny on any actual maintenance.

No private business could survive such overspending. But the government school system survives because it is a huge confusing bureaucracy with little accountability to taxpayers. It spends what it wants today and expects us to pay for its overspending later with higher property taxes.

Another example is school busing. The district spends a good sum on busing its students to school. I asked at one of the open school meetings why the taxpayers were subsidizing parents’ responsibility for getting their kids to school. Someone suggested that busing be eliminated or parents be required to pay the full costs of it.

We were told that suggestion wasn’t possible. Really? Not possible? It seems that the district refuses to make any hard decisions that hurt “their own,” but they readily make decisions that would require the hardships to fall on the rest of us.

In a commentary of New Year’s wishes in the Sentinel, one of the wishes was that the Ramona community would “support the importance and critical value of our local public schools.” It surprisingly associated today’s public school with the first public school in Boston in 1635.

Let’s make that comparison and see if the current public school system deserves our support and if it is producing something that is critically valuable to us.

The first public schools in America possessed a predominately Judeo-Christian philosophy. The Ten Commandments were not only acceptable, but the Bible was often used as a reading text. Traditional families were strongly supported in these schools. The educational focus was on the basics — reading, writing and mathematics. Big government was held in suspicion. The Boston school was not supported by tax dollars.

The current public schools are predominately socialist in philosophy. Government schools are more interested in producing “correct thinking” comrades who will adopt current socialist/progressive ideologies than they are in producing productive, independent, truth-seeking citizens. Big government is held in high regard — viewed almost as the savior of last resort. Today’s government schools are supported by an unending appetite for your property tax dollars.

This is not a public school system I want to support, and I think its social engineering focus is having a devastating effect on the stability of our culture.

The school district has tried five times to get a bond measure passed in Ramona. We have wisely said, “No!” each time. The district has proven itself to be financially untrustworthy. We learned recently in the Sentinel that the district’s current problems are a result of the district refusing to listen to taxpayers in 2002. When the school bond measure failed in that year, instead of hearing us and limiting their spending, they went out and borrowed the money we refused to give them. Now they want us to bail them out of their defiant, irresponsible borrowing.

Let’s not give them any more of our money. Let’s encourage them to frugally manage the large amounts of money they already receive. Let’s force the bureaucracy to clean up its own mess.

With no accountability to us and with no change in attitude from them, giving government school bureaucrats more money is going to allow them to continue with their fiscal irresponsibility — just as their past behaviors have shown us. How many $100 plus tax increases are you willing to take to support a fiscally irresponsible organization? I say none.

J. Dyer is a Ramona resident.

Related posts:

  1. Government Extortion: Officials who threaten are bullies and deceivers
  2. What steps has Ramona Unified taken to dispose of excess property?
  3. Money management, not money, is the issue
  4. Self-government requires self-sacrifice
  5. Letter to the editor: Ramona schools need Prop. R

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Posted by Maureen Robertson on Jan 17 2014. Filed under Commentary. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

8 Comments for “No more property tax increases for government schools”

  1. Jane Tanaka MD

    Thank you, Mr Dyer, for writing such an inciting letter and retort to Dr Graeff's editorial.
    Mr Dyer gives a darn, which is better than not caring, or not having an opinion.
    "How many $100 plus tax increases are you willing to take to support a fiscally irresponsible organization?"
    Mr Dyer would favor "None."
    I would favor 1.25 ; ie a $125 per household per year bond. This would pay off the principal over 20 years but not the interest of the COP.
    This is my household's share of the debt..34 cents per day. I take responsibility for the choices I made in voting for RUSD board members, and I take responsibility for voicing or not voicing my opinions in public, and whether I have taken the time to attend school board meetings .
    The interest on the COP, I feel, is the district's responsibility. The schools built are our community's schools. I believe the the board plans to refinance that loan to bring the interest down in 3 years or so. But the district cannot refinance if they cant keep up with the loan payment until then.

  2. Jane Tanaka MD

    This still enforces frugality. The district governance team will have to eliminate duplicate expenses no longer needed due to common core funding. It still puts pressure on them to sell or lease out properties not in use. It still puts pressure on them to consider closing down schools, lay off teachers, reduce administrative costs, employee health insurance costs further. It still puts pressure on them to work with us in the community to get things done.
    Its not an either or, black or white choice. We can choose both frugality and a no frills bond measure. Otherwise, insolvency will likely result. We have no choices then, when state school czars swoop in. … and we still will have an unforgiven debt.
    Give your input at the public workshop on Saturday January 25th at 9 am at OPMS. I'm sure Mr Dyer will be there to give the governance team a kick in the tuckus. I will be there too. I hope many in the public will chose to make time to attend. Democracy and apathy cannot co-exist.

    • Johnny R

      Many have commented about the state school czars swooping in to run RUSD. Believe me, I'm no fan of the state – they are a bunch of clowns. Having said that, I've come to wonder if we'd be any worse off?.The current bunch has messed this thing up so badly that I'm not sure even the state could do it worse. The old saying, "elections have consequences" rings true here. Ramona has elected Boards that have not managed the district well. They have accepted mediocre performance, at best, from their district administration. They have made some stupid decisions against the public will. If there is always a bail out, then there are never consequences. Maybe the consequences are something that need to be faced so that these same mistakes will never be made again. I'm not saying I am for this – it is just food for thought…

  3. Honest Ramona Resident

    I am glad we will adopt Common Core standards and continue to keep bible study in church. By at least following those standards our future graduates will be able to compete on the world stage and not have to look for a job a some right-wing think tank advocating for something ridiculous like so-called “intelligent design”.

    We need to properly fund our schools and continue to expand our road systems.

    Mr. Dyer’s view of the public school system is that we should operate schools the same way it was done 400 years ago. Maybe he thinks it’s time to throw out computers and pull out the McGuffey Reader? Yes, that would really help!! Try offering solutions and not tearing down the institutions from which we all benefit. Or, would you prefer a totally uneducated populace and everyone working for Walmart?

    • Guest

      Unbelievable! I love how liberals pull the Walmart card to attempt to make their case. Did you happen to see that Walmart medical benefits cost less and provide better coverage than the Obamacare? Didn't think so. But, that's not the point. The point is the government, from the federal level down to the school district, is bleeding us dry. We are continually taxes for services we don't need so that services we do need are underfunded, leading us no option but to fund the necessary services through additional taxes. It is a vicious cycle that has to stop. In this case, we have a district that has not been responsible with the funding it has received. It is time for them to make some cuts FIRST, then we'll see about funding a bond to cover the rest. If we just give them bond money they will continue their inefficient and wasteful ways.
      As for Mr.Dyer's comments – he's on point nearly 100%. His point, missed by those whose ideology blinds them, is that students used to learn when they were held accountable. Today, the educational establishment requires teaching be done at the lowest common denominator. The same tide that raises all boats also beaches them. Maybe Common Core is just code to reflect the lowest common denominator?

    • Mike

      Evolution is based on factual evidence and has two main schools of thought, Darwinism AND Intelligent Design… Darwinism AND Intelligent Design are both evolutionary theories, and they DON'T necessarily contradict one another; so, maybe open your mind just a bit before you engage your keyboard.

  4. Mike

    When Pete Wilson was governor, the state was running a surplus, and class sizes were being reduced K-6. Gray Davis, Awwnold, Moonbeam Brown… Elections have consequences.

  5. Big Daddy

    Mr. Dyer. You've made some good points, but you are facually incorrect on others. Yes, the bussing issue is a good one. It simply seems inconceivable that they cam continue to lose close to $1million a year on bussing students. Something has got to give…

    Maintenance. Please clarify. What do you mean, they don't spend a penny on "actual maintenance"? Have you ever watched the janitors and the greenskeepers or anyone else in the maintenance crew and what they do? They keep things patched up as best they can and repair the little things like bathroom faucets, toilets, broken heating and air systems, but they don't receive close to enough money from the state to make the major repairs that come with aging infastructure.

    Frugality – even if they do make the "cuts" and cram our classrooms with 40+ students, sell property, etc, they still will not be fiscally healthy unless the loan is payed off. Please dig into the financials and maybe you will reassess your statements. Granted, they have proposed some decent measures to get themselves financially viable, and only one of the measures entails asking for taxpayer money. The rest will come from them. If they actually execute on those measures, what say you then?

    Are you willing to say "no" to a bond, no matter what they do, even if it means bankruptcy and the degradation of your property values and the entire community?

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