Letter: On this, we agree by Gary Zarda
Attending Tuesday, Feb. 5th’s informational meeting at Northwoods Community Elementary School in Harshaw was a heartening experience.
Most in the crowd were cordial and the dialogue respectful. It is amazing what fences get mended when people speak face-to-face from the height of an elementary student’s little desk. Perhaps more would get done in Madison and Washington if lawmakers did the same.
As facts were shared and questions answered, the tenor of the conversation got better and better. People found out that the referendum was scheduled before news of the mill’s sale, so gone was the notion that things are being rushed for fear of what may come. People heard figures about how the district has done with less and less, being able to borrow more cheaply as we have a history of spending wisely.
In fact, something that everyone could agree on was the fact that the funding formula must change. It is agreed that our area’s resources are unfairly measured and the idea of shipping our money to other districts, while paying more for educating our own kids, is unacceptable as a long-term state of affairs.
Several people in the crowd, of all different political backgrounds, promised to hold state officials accountable for action on the formula. Assemblyman Rob Swearingen, Senator Tom Tiffany, State Superintendent of Schools Tony Evers, Wisconsin Education Association President Mary Bell and Governor Scott Walker, can you hear us now? If not, you will in the near future in word and action.
That said, in the interim, we cannot make our local kids pay the price for the failings of the state. On this, everyone also agreed. To a person, folks said that education and our kids matter.
Along those lines, one Harshaw resident, who was gracious in saying so, said people should respect each other come what may and that people should vote what they can really afford.
Despite the fact that I personally have lost 9.25 percent of my net income since 2010, what I really can’t afford is the well-documented devastation of my community’s schools if the referendum fails. What I will find a way to afford is the additional $8.75 a month passing a referendum will cost me. As people took their turn in providing for me, I will find a way to do so for others.
Therefore, I will vote “yes.” Let’s all join together as a community come Feb. 19.
Gary Zarda, Rhinelander
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