Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Kaukauna Is Still A Lie!

When Scott Walker budget was enacted last year, he loved pointing to the Kaukauna School District has an example of how his budget was so "successful" in saving taxpayers money and not harming the quality of education.

I pointed out a post by Jake, who pointed out that the Walker's Kaukauna story was a lie:
So this wasn't a "union costs exploded for 2011-2012" problem. This was a "budget cuts from Scott Walker and WisGOP in Madison are screwing us on the local level" problem. In fact, the original budget proposal from the guv resulted in a drop of Kaukauna's available revenues of $2.16 million (a bit under 5% of their total), and $2.75 million from the state (check out your favorite district's cut here, Kaukauna's on Page 5). The unions responded by proposing $1.8 million in concessions, which combined with the district $345,000 in surplus funds from 2010-11, would have taken care off all of the state cuts put into Kaukauna's budget. The Kaukauna School Board turned them down and asked for layoffs of 14.5 full-time positions instead, and decided to wait on the Legislature and State Supreme Court to do the dirty work of putting the screws on the teachers, and hope for large numbers of teacher retirements.

Which is exactly what happened. The Kaukauna teachers will now have to chip in over 18% of their pay in health care and pension contributions, with no corresponding increase in salary. And for all the talk about "Kaukauna class sizes going down," even Kaukauna School Board President Todd Arnoldussen admits it's projected class sizes being reduced, and those are reductions from huge INCREASES THAT WERE PREVIOUSLY PROJECTED. In other words, little to no change will result from what students would have seen this year. Class sizes DID NOT GO DOWN, as much as the deceptive press releases may indicate.

And I'm not even bringing up the fact that I wish Kaukauna good luck in attracting and retaining quality teachers when they're getting a huge cut in their take-home pay. Strangely, those "free-market" types that are always bashing public educators leaves out the free market reality of lower pay = lower quality. (But when has consistency and reality ever been part of the equation for those haters, anyway?)
The lie was picked up on nationally and made even clearer:
But here’s the thing: The collective bargaining ban, in and of itself, was not responsible for achieving these savings and this surplus. As the Appleton Post Crescent reports, the teachers union had already offered up financial concessions that would have produced almost identical savings and an almost identical surplus.

What’s more, the use of this one district to declare Walker’s policies a success is almost comical in its cherry-picking. There are 424 school districts in Wisconsin, and as the AP recently noted, Walker’s policies mean draconian budget cuts to 410 of them, with labor officials and school districts predicting increased class sizes and layoffs.

Walker’s premature declaration of victory — and the right wing echo chamber’s flacking of it — could look awfully silly when the full bill for his policies really comes due. And the notion that this one school district’s fiscal success is in any way a referendum on the most controversial aspect of Walker’s union busting proposal is laughable. This fight has never been about public employees’ unwillingness to make fiscal concessions — and always about stripping them of their rights.
When the recalls came, Walker and company tried to point at Kaukauna again as their flagship on how the budget was working. Meanwhile, those of us on the left repeatedly pointed out that any savings were one time deals and the long term costs would far exceed any savings, real or pretend, that Walker might tout.

Guess who was correct.

Well, let's just say thatKaukauna is still a lie:
The owner of a $150,000 home within the Kaukauna and Little Chute school districts will see annual costs jump $80 and $61, respectively, if the home’s value increases or decreases at the same rate as the school district’s projections.

After several years of cutting spending, the Kaukauna Area School District no longer had any fat to trim and will have to increase the tax levy for revenue, said Bob Schafer, business manager for Kaukauna. Because the district spent less than it budgeted, state aid was reduced by more than $850,000, according to figures from the Department of Public Instruction.

“Our biggest dilemma was No. 1, the dropping property values, and No. 2, the amount of state aid,” Schafer said. “We lost a lot of state aid this year.”

Kaukauna also underspent their budget last year by about $1.5 million due to healthcare and retirement adjustments, which meant a smaller state aid payment for the 2012-13 year.

“That does have a ripple effect in your aid payment for the following year,” Schafer said. “That was a big factor for us.”

Still, the situation could have been much worse, he said. Kaukauna had the option of taxing homeowners up to $10.13 per $1,000 of home valuation, but the Board of Education voted instead to take money out of a different fund and set the tax rate at $9.33.

“Yes, it does raise property taxes, but everybody feels that this is what’s best for the kids and the community,” Schafer said.
So those of you in the Kaukauna School District who voted for Walker, not just once, but twice, congratulations to you. You won the Walker Booby Prize of higher taxes and a poor education for your children.

Ah, ah, ah! No complaining now! You're getting exactly what you wanted. It's just too bad you had to ruin everything for the rest of us in your headlong rush to prove yourselves fools.

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