Voters in the School District of Rhinelander have a choice on Feb. 19. The choice I want to address is the impact of a “no” vote on the referendum to exceed the levy limit by $4 million over the next three years. While you may believe that vote will keep your taxes from going up, you’ll soon discover it’s the furthest thing from the truth.
Look at the facts. In 2000 you, the taxpayer, had 52 percent of the educational budget picked up by the state. This year it’s 17 percent. In four years it’s projected to be 8 percent. Who do you think bears the brunt of making up the difference? So much for keeping the taxes low. That “no” vote will dismantle what’s taken a lifetime to build. The ripple effect will be felt throughout the economy with increased prices, a tighter job market, increases in the costs of city/county services and the list goes on.
The risk of losing key industry is huge because skilled labor with families look at EDUCATION first. Healthcare, job security, recreation, housing are all factors as well, but parents want their kids to get a quality education. Rhinelander offers that and then some. Who would move here if this wasn’t available?
A “no” vote will dissolve two award-winning charter schools, gut the elective programs including art, music, foreign language and tech ed. It will dismantle the SAGE program that’s specifically designed to promote academic achievement at all levels. Athletics will be trimmed and jobs will be lost. This isn’t half of what will happen. These are not idle threats. This WILL happen. You WILL pay for it…much more than the minimal amount being sought.
This district has managed the budget tightly for years and now we’re being penalized for being frugal. This vote, more than any other in recent memory, is the future of our city, our way of life. I’m voting “yes” on Feb. 19 because the consequences of “no” are what I can’t afford.
Mike Michalak, Rhinelander