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home : opinions : letters to the editor November 24, 2015

1/5/2013 7:30:00 AM
Referendum shouldn't be the answer to school district's financial issues

To the editor:

Because of falling enrollments, the Tomahawk School Board made appropriate cuts, saving taxpayers' money. The Rhinelander School Board, also faced with declining student numbers, decided to hold yet another costly mid-winter referendum asking for $12 million ($4 million for each of the next three years).

Most similar school districts consolidated many years ago to reduce the expense of numerous buildings and avoid paying multiple staff members to do a job which could be done by one person. Was it poor management or short-sightedness? The Rhinelander School Board seems to think the district deserves the same funding as the wealthiest communities in the state.

We have lived in a number of different areas and this is the most wasteful, inefficient, self-serving district of them all.

Administrators, teachers, and other school employees receive higher salaries and more benefits than most everyone else in the area, yet keep wanting more from the taxpayers of this community.

We don't need children being used as pawns to beg us to pass referendums and taxpayers shouldn't be forced to pay for things like the expensive programs funded through Fund 80, the community service fund.

Dixie King, Harshaw

Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, February 7, 2013
Article comment by: Missy Huempfner

Andrew - Do you not realize this will affect your children also, as Nativity only goes through eighth grade? This will not only affect the younger kids, but all kids all the way up through the high school.

Posted: Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Article comment by: Kevin South

Be sure and vote "yes" on the referendum. It would truly be a tragedy if any of these fine accountable professionals had to retire with an annuity worth less than a million dollars, since it's always about the children. Can't teach them in closets and class sizes will explode to 45 per class, and all extracurricular activities and sports will be cut. Oh, and Mississippi will pass Wisconsin on ACT-SAT scores within a decade.

Posted: Saturday, February 2, 2013
Article comment by: Andrew Danger

Elmer, these "yes" voters are always right, so no point in arguing with them cause they will never see your point. Our kids go to Nativity so I'll give you two guesses what we are going to vote.

Posted: Friday, February 1, 2013
Article comment by: Gary Zarda

Mr. Leitl:
As a teacher, I want you to know that I do not view what I do as being “at the expense of the taxpayers.” I serve the taxpayers, try to represent an investment who is part of the town’s infrastructure. Yes, I am compensated for doing so, but I have given up earning potential as compared to others with similar education. Why? Because I care about kids and have benefited by concern shown me on the part of teachers that I have had myself. I work hard at what I do and try to be a “helper” rather than a “taker” as your wording suggests.

Furthermore, the doctor you doubt is very respected in this community as is his wife who cares for others as well. Yes, there were multiple reasons they ended up here, but one of the factors that could have caused them to go elsewhere is a subpar school system. They have hard-working, intelligent, kind children, and they wanted them to be in a place that would empower their dreams. The school system that will result from a failed referendum would have caused them to go elsewhere and the people who have benefited by the quality, compassionate medical services they provide (including my own family) might have had less skilled doctors in their place.

Finally, you discount the impact that schools have on drawing industry. They are of value because these employers need intelligent, well-trained employees, either from the town itself (preferably) or through recruitment of good folks, folks who want to move to towns where their children will be well cared for. Letters from business leaders, city officials, and others go along with research in validating the notion that good schools are necessary to recruiting business. In fact, that Printpack building is going up, in part, because of sales pitches from the school district and Nicolet College.

The alternative to these researched, credible opinions is pessimism and doubt. The latter is a problem, not a solution. Please be open to a positive respect of people trying to make your community a good place to live. We are all working for you.

Posted: Friday, February 1, 2013
Article comment by: Doug Strid

"This will be my last comments on this subject." -Elmer Leitl (1/21/13)


Posted: Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Article comment by: Elmer Leitl

Joyce, nice post but it's all about your son. What else could we expect the mother of a teacher to say? I do wish your son the best in his future endeavors because I have a grandson with autism who is very unpredictable and hard to handle. Most college grads have large student loans to pay off, not only teachers. Now about the industries not coming here unless we have a top notch school and the best teachers money can buy, and doctors won't come here. One teacher posted on one of the forums that he moved here from Miami because of our schools and teachers and whoever believes that should get free care from him. I can also see the companies tearing up the highways to get here, at least any that pay a livable wage. When did the last one come here because of our wonderful school system? Most of the "yes" voters that post on these forums and in the local papers keep repeating this same thing and must be hoping it will really happen. We are lucky Printpack stayed here and it was not because of the schools. It was because of the employees and owners making it a better company and making it possible to expand. Jake, I just knew you would be trolling again, and guess what, you were wrong again. It seems like you are wrong every time you post on one of these forums. I don't know what you do for a living but it is probably at the expense of the taxpayers. Maybe a teacher? Well, now you can do more name calling, because that it seems, is all you are capable of.

Posted: Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Article comment by: Jake Haren

Excellent post, Ms. Brown. Elmer? Anything to say? I didn't think so.

Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2013
Article comment by: Joyce Brown

It's hard to believe that there are so many short-sighted and insular people in Rhinelander, and actually in the entire country. On one hand you’re demonizing teachers and the entire educational system, and the next breath you want them to carry concealed weapons and put their lives on the line to protect your children from assault gun wielding, unbalanced murderers. Do you even realize how wrong this is? Just a couple of thoughts:

• Without good schools, you won’t attract new industry or new jobs.
• Without jobs residents will be forced to leave for more opportunities elsewhere.
• With a declining population property values will fall.
• Without good schools and good teachers your sons and daughters will never become successful adults. A teacher spends more time every day with your children than you do.
• You don’t decide to be a teacher because you think it’s an easy job. My son recently graduated with a K-12 teaching degree. It took him five years to earn a major and a minor, a four year degree is a thing of the past, teachers need more than one degree to even have a chance of being hired.
• Most new teachers have enormous student debt. Students must begin paying this off six months after graduation. Existing teachers have to continue their education in order to stay employed. A single graduate class costs $2,500.
• With so many budget cuts, teaching jobs are scarce or non-existent. The only job my son could find pays $12 an hour. He's working as an aide in a public school for “second chance” and multiple needs students. He works with severely autistic children. Every day in addition to teaching, he routinely changes seventh and eighth grade students' diapers. He is often physically attacked and has to restrain other students from harming themselves. Before he started working at the school he had to attend a seminar on how to properly restrain students without hurting them. He loves children and teaching, and he says working with these kids is so rewarding he’s contemplating going back to school to earn an additional degree in special education. Many of the students have been removed from their parents because their parents can’t cope, and they now live in a sterile understaffed institution. The only interaction or affection they receive is at school.
• Out of his college graduating class two students found jobs as teachers, the rest are working as substitutes for $100 a day with no benefits, or teacher aides, or plain not working at all, or working at a retail job. It’s sad to say he’s actually lucky to have a job and receive health insurance.
• When I heard about Sandy Hook and the teachers who were killed trying to protect their students all I could think about was this could be the school where my son works. I have no doubt that he or most other teachers would put their own lives on the line to save their students. What I can’t picture is him routinely carrying a gun and being forced to use it.
• His day isn’t 9 to 5. The amount of paperwork is astronomical and obviously can’t be done while students are present. He assists the main teachers in preparing IEP’s and working on lesson plans and curriculum. He supervises the children at lunch time, during music, recess and physical education class. He takes them off the bus in the morning and puts them on the bus after school. He meets with parents and caregivers. He attends after school activities and meetings.
• I use my son as an example. Each teacher has a different story and different circumstances.
• Finally, if teaching were such an easy job, why didn’t all the teacher haters become teachers themselves?

Posted: Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Article comment by: Tony Arten

"It's not for the sake of the students. It's all about you and future of the community since you heard the mill might shut down and your job may be affected or your property value will bottom out."

The students are the future of this community. Education is the path to prosperity in the past, now, and in the future. Always has been, always will be,

A recipe for disaster is a failed referendum and a closed mill. A disaster would be a closed mill and no investment in education. No job and no education equals poverty.

Posted: Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Article comment by: Jake Haren

Wow, Elmer. I wish I could be a crotchety old man, yelling at kids to get off my lawn. Wait, the school had to make so many cuts that the families with kids aren't around anymore. Well, I can still meet the guys at 6 a.m. at McDonald's and complain about the world. Oh wait, there isn't a McDonald's anymore either. Hmmm, well I'd better go to Trig's to get some prune juice. Oh wait, that's gone too since Rhinelander is a ghost town. Oh well, at least I have my low property taxes and money, and I can still troll the message boards. Yeah!

Posted: Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Article comment by: Tony Arten

Actually Elmer, we rarely took vacations during the summer as she was a reading specialist who tutored, on her own time, many of her students during the summer. She primarily worked with low performing program level kids which means when she wasn't teaching, she was doing state and district required paperwork as required by law. IEP's, lesson planning, student specific rubrics and performance reporting when she wasn't required to be in session for state mandated continuing education and certification maintenance. Just to name a few. On average during the school year, I saw my wife about one day out of the week, if lucky. She would leave the house at 5:30 in the morning, and we were lucky if she was home by 9 or so. And then she went straight to bed.

I know so many here and elsewhere have deluded themselves into thinking teaching is just walking in when the morning bell rings, and walking out when it rings in the afternoon. You are hopelessly mistaken. That's like saying people at the mill get paid to just sit and push a button or babysit a machine.

Posted: Monday, January 21, 2013
Article comment by: Elmer Leitl

I bet all you "yes" voters on this forum will be happy since this will be my last comments on this subject. First Doug, you should be a comedian. If you would read what everyone writes you might understand why I said what I said. Tony more or less said teachers work 12 months a year and weekends. "Take it down a notch." You know what you can do with that. Jake, I do care about my money and if you say you do not, then all I have to say is you're rich or you are untruthful. Chris, I think to bargain or negotiate a contract is one in the same. Isn't it terrible that they can't bargain for more! Now I see why all the "yes" voters on this forum want so badly to see the referendum passed. It's not for the sake of the students. It's all about you and future of the community since you heard the mill might shut down and your job may be affected or your property value will bottom out. Like Strid said, who will want to move here and buy a home? What industry will want to come here? As you know, I am a "no" vote and sure hope it fails.

Posted: Monday, January 21, 2013
Article comment by: Doug Strid

Elmer, don't worry. Everything will be very cheap when the mill closes and the referendum fails. Your house will be worth nothing so your property taxes will go down considerably. Will that make you happy?

And I can't believe that teachers were hunting and fishing on weekends! How dare they!
Seriously? Take it down a notch.

Posted: Monday, January 21, 2013
Article comment by: Jake Haren

Thank you for proving my point, Elmer. All you care about is your pocketbook and your property taxes which, based on your continuous statements, you can afford to have raised a few bucks. You don't care about solidarity in the community, or strengthening it for future generations. Bravo.

Posted: Saturday, January 19, 2013
Article comment by: Chris Hansen

Elmer, in other words you have no idea what they make, yet you come on here and say their pockets are overflowing. There is no bargaining anymore, remember? When their contract is up, they can only negotiate their wage, and any increase cannot be over the COLA. Where have you been the last two years?

Posted: Friday, January 18, 2013
Article comment by: Elmer Leitl

Tony, I guess your wife never got a summer vacation or weekends off to enjoy family and the fun things in life. This must have started lately because I socialized with several teachers and the only work they did at school in the summer was maintenance, mostly painting, for an hourly wage over and above their regular wages. They also hunted and fished on many weekends. By the way, these teachers taught at Rhinelander High. Jake, I'll tell you why I care about what happens here. In case you didn't know, it's about another referendum and I pay property tax and have paid them in this community since 1969 so I have paid my fair share. Have you? I think I have the right to "troll" on this board. I also earned the benefits I reap.

Posted: Thursday, January 17, 2013
Article comment by: Tony Arten

Most of my friends are teachers. I was married to one also. Not a one of them "only work nine months a year and seldom on weekends." That's just a tired talking point. Anyone who thinks that is true obviously has no clue what a teaching job really consists of in this day and age.

Posted: Thursday, January 17, 2013
Article comment by: Jake Haren

Elmer, why don't you stick to trolling other message boards. Leave these comments to people who actually care about the community. You obviously are content on "reaping your benefits", so why should you care about what happens here?

Posted: Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Article comment by: Elmer Leitl

Chris, I am sure you can tell us how much teachers earn. I am sure if it was broken down as dollars per hour people would be astonished since they only work nine months a year and seldom on weekends. I hate to burst your bubble but there is no jealousy here because I already put in my time and am now reaping the benefits. We will soon see if the teachers feel this $12 million is for the interest of the students when their contract is up and bargaining begins. Oh by the way Chris, I think you should have to pay the entire cost of your children's schooling if they go to a different school district.

Posted: Thursday, January 10, 2013
Article comment by: Chris Hansen

Elmer, have you ever heard of open enrollment? We are not talking about moving an entire family, we are talking about the kid going to a different school district in the area. A lot of families do this already, we are one of them. There are some costs to the family such as transportation, but to us the benefits outweigh anything else. If this referendum fails, a lot of families will take on that extra burden and do as we do. They want certain things for their children that this district will no longer be able to offer. You know what happens then? Your tax money is sent to that school district where the child now attends. So you and I are still gonna pay for every school age kid in this district, whether or not they attend school in this district. Please provide evidence that our teacher's pockets are overflowing. Your posts reek of jealousy and nothing more. I don't know what you expect a teacher to make for a wage. Can you tell us?

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