Letter: Teachers should not be made scapegoats by John Kubisiak
As a Rhinelander-area resident with a declining income, I sympathize with my fellow taxpayers who oppose any increase in property taxes. The Rhinelander school district will get $12 million less state aid during the next three years due to a flawed funding formula. If the referendum does not pass, the district will be forced to budget their way out of the shortfall with some pretty harsh measures.
Rhinelander’s teachers are not the cause of the funding shortfall faced by the school district and it is not realistic to expect teachers to somehow make up the difference to bail out the district’s taxpayers. Teacher incomes have already declined as state funding has dried up. Since February of 2011, the average teacher in the Rhinelander school district has seen take-home pay reduced by 8 percent. Our teachers have invested a lot of time and money into their own teaching degrees, holding advanced degrees in many cases. They invest in students by donating unpaid time preparing lesson plans, arranging classrooms and grading papers. Running down hard-working teachers is disrespectful and it does nothing to resolve the school funding issue.
Voters in the School District of Rhinelander face a stark choice on Feb. 19. We will decide whether the district should fire 35 teachers, crowd students into fewer classrooms, get rid of most electives and implement other measures outlined by the school board. Or we can decide that we value our youth and we value the future of this community by voting “yes.”
Financial choices are never easy, especially when many household incomes are fixed or declining. However, I plan to support Rhinelander students and the health of my community by voting “yes” on Feb. 19. I encourage others to do the same.
John Kubisiak, Newbold