Letter: Preserve future education by Robert Frederickson
Students and their education cannot afford to have the latest referendum voted down. But before or after the voting, it is time for the Rhinelander school board to make cost cutting moves other than the cuts threatened, such as immediately ending great benefits packages for future early retirements not yet started by present employees.
In the past, the Rhinelander school boards have not been protecting the interests of either the children or the taxpayers by agreeing to benefits packages that most tax payers can only dream of having. If there is pressure to raise the Social Security retirement age above 65, raise the Medicare age above 65 and make cuts to Medicaid, all because of alleged high costs, why should those in education, a non-hazardous occupation, be allowed early retirements for non-medical reasons between the age of 55 and 65, along with a great package of benefits?
Also, it is time to make cuts to the administrative group outside of principals and a district administrator. Like the food workers and maintenance workers, most of the administrative jobs could be bit out to private companies. Money saved could be used to cut taxes and perhaps hire more teachers or purchase improved learning-based technology. The school board has been concentrating on getting rid of low wage employees when they should have been concentrating on saving large amounts of money and improving education, the life blood of any economy.
Vote “yes” on the referendum to preserve education because of its importance to the individual and the economy. But bring pressure on the Rhinelander school board to control costs as past school boards have agreed to unaffordable benefit packages for early retirements and have not been concerned with tax increases to pay for the benefit packages.
The school district handbook says that any single professional employee of the school district with at least 15 consecutive years with the school district and reaching the age of 55 can retire and receive a health reimbursement account paid for by the school district. The HRA will be capped at $28,000 per year for an eight-year period for a single retired employee. Also remember for each yearly retirement in the teaching staff, there will probably be a new hire, possibly doubling the cost of the benefits received by those in early retirements.
Robert Frederickson, Rhinelander