Recently, the Rhinelander area school district demanded and received an increase in taxation of $12 million over the next three years. They obtained the additional taxation through coercive threats to severely damage the education of the district’s children. And to greatly increase the activity fees which, given the prevailing area wages, would put many of the children out of the activities, rather than a vote of confidence on the school district’s high costs and the lavish benefits packages, including early retirement opportunities which are included. Benefits which probably 90 percent of other area residents can only dream of having.
The referendum was a common understanding and acceptance of the importance of education and the activities which go with the education. I didn’t hear the district saying to improve education, we will put the district on pay for performance and dump the poor performers. We will immediately end early retirement opportunities. We will change our benefits packages so that they more closely mirror what other workers in the area receive. To save on costs, we will greatly reduce the pool of administrative employees and farm their work out to private businesses that could handle more than one school district with the same employee.
I am requesting that the school district, under the Freedom of Information Act, turn over to the local newspapers and have the following information published: itemized list of various benefits received and costs of each benefit; costs of early retirements, including benefits received and any costs of penalties paid into the Wisconsin Retirement System for early retirements.
Using the Rhinelander School District’s math of nearly $1 million increases, after 3, 4, 5 or 12 million dollars comes 6, 7, 8 or 21 million dollars. So unless high costs are contained, in three years, the Rhinelander school district will be going to referendum for $33 million above 2012 spending levels.
Having worked in industry for 43 years, I served a four-year apprenticeship as a fluid power maintenance mechanic and tool room machinist. While maintaining automated equipment, like others, I went to the local technical institute which later became a college, earning an associate degree in fluid power and robotics. I do understand the importance of K12 education, higher education and ongoing education. The high costs of education must be reduced while improving both quality and numbers being educated, or the quality of life and living standards of the 99 percent of citizens, including retirees, will be greatly decreased.
Robert Fredrickson, Rhinelander