Referendum for fall of 2012

To the Editor:

The Rockford School Board is returning to the voters this November with a request for $27,000,000 from the taxpayers after the last request of $28,500,000 was defeated in February. I must say that I am dismayed and disappointed that the school board didn’t hear the citizenry. We said “NO.”

Is it not disrespectful to the voters to return with basically the same proposal 8 months later? I would have hoped that our board could have re-examined the original proposal. They needed to cut the “wants” and present the “needs” They needed to solicit input from the citizenry and make the hard decisions. There are items in this bond referendum that the school district needs but there are extras we can’t afford. Some tough decisions to prioritize projects need to be made.

We need to be realistic. We are in the worst recession since the great depression. The tough times are evidenced by the increased number of people on food stamps, increased participation at food shelves and continued high unemployment/underemployment. Families have had to forego their “wants” in order to meet their “needs” in a fiscally responsible manner. Our school district is no different. We need to live within our means yet still provide our students with a quality learning environment.

The school board believes now is the time to borrow money because rates are low. But it is still debt that will have to be repaid. The district debt will be over $80 million if this referendum passes. Are we to believe there won’t be another referendum in the next 9 years when our existing debt is paid? We need to prioritize. Where is the financial plan that addresses the long term.? Where is the realistic appreciation for the heavy loads many families are facing? Where is a compromise plan that prioritizes “needs” from “wants”? This board needs to further review the financial environment of the district and challenge themselves to leaving a legacy of financial wisdom and not debt. Until this happens the only response this referendum should get from voters is “NO.”

Jack Dukes