Letter: Rhinelander can create its own destiny with referendum by Dave Heck
With our country’s massive debt/deficit and changing demographics, there is concern. Meanwhile, education is declining.
• Americans with high school diplomas have an 8 percent unemployment rate, double the 4.2 percent for college graduates.
• In the U.S., about one in five ninth-graders drop out of high school before getting a diploma. Consequently, 20 countries have higher graduation rates.
• Thirty years ago, the U.S. led the world in the percentage of 25- to 34-year-olds with the equivalent of at least a two-year college degree. As of 2009, the U.S. lagged behind 14 developed countries. (Source: Wall Street Journal 4/26/12)
Concerned? If people are not incentivized to work, lack a competitive education, or do not have jobs, it only worsens the U.S. fiscal issues.
In contrast, Rhinelander education is improving with positive changes and cost efficiencies. The School District of Rhinelander (SDR) has been a leader adapting to change:
1. SDR was one of the first to save money by consolidating schools, changing health carriers and reevaluating financial benefits.
2. The bond rating for SDR was upgraded by an independent rating agency, saving tax payers money….almost unheard of in financially stressed environments.
3. Graduation rates have increased, test scores are improving, overall environment is enhanced and pride has skyrocketed.
4. When there were walkouts/school closings due to disputes relating to Act 10, Rhinelander stayed open, students learned and teachers taught. Where else in Wisconsin did this happen?
Yet, the declining state aid from the faulty funding formula and lack of political help on either side is disappointing. State aid in 2000 was over $13 million and has been dramatically cut back to below $5 million with a crippling price. SDR has cut over $11 million in expenses and, as one of the higher job employers, has seen a staggering 200 job losses since 2002. (Source: SDR)
Our community cannot change the national debt/deficit. Your federal/state taxes benefit other communities because of the funding formula. The referendum is one of the only taxes whereby you can directly see that your tax dollars benefit Rhinelander. Thus, Rhinelander needs to create its own destiny to support education, jobs, senior citizens and businesses. Otherwise, it burdens our community with more job losses and potentially higher taxes through the loss of wages/tax revenue. Rhinelander is a great place to live, work, and retire. Keeping the Rhinelander paper mill operating and passing the SDR referendum are critical to our community.
Dave Heck, Rhinelander