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Off the Editor’s Desk 3-20-2024

More money is always needed!

Over the years that I have attended public board meetings, there seems always a need for more money to take care of business at the local government and all the way up to the state and federal governments.

There always seems to be a need for more money at the local schools, and this year is probably one of those years that local schools are looking for more funds to take care of what is needed in place now.

The Boyceville school district is asking voters to approve a referendum of $18 million to fund a district-wide school facility improvement project which would include maintenance upgrades and remodeling to the elementary and middle/high schools as well as the bus garage.

I like it when the voters are asked to approve those large expenditures and that gives us all a voice in what is happening.

At the Glenwood City School District, the board has approved going ahead with the projects that include renovations to the weight room, early childhood classrooms, art and Spanish classrooms and the media center and roof repair. Apparently the district has funds on hand and from insurance proceeds to do these improvements.

Its not only local schools asking for more money to keep the doors open, more money is also needed for the higher education schools that are strapped for funds. I read a story on the front page of the Wisconsin State Journal last Friday about Northland College at Ashland, it has three and a half weeks to raise $12 million to prevent its board of trustees from closing the doors of this small 132 year old liberal arts college. Known as an environmental college with enrollment of about 500 to 600 students over the past decade. Some people with local ties have been graduates of Northland including my father and a statement from Northland College Board of Trustees Chair Ted Bristol stated, “We believe we can reinvent Northland carrying forward our legacy in a meaningful way, but that will only be possible with the funding in place.”

It’s not only Northland College that needs more funding. Last Friday evening, I attended the awards banquet of the Wisconsin Newspaper Association in Madison and the guest speaking was Jay Rothman, who is the ninth president of the Universities of Wisconsin, a constellation of 13 universities across the state serving more than 162,500 students and graduating more than 36,000 annually.

Rothman noted in his speech that the state was underfunding the system and that it needed more money. But, he proudly pointed out that, “eighty-seven percent of Wisconsin resident grads are living in the state five yeas after graduating.”

A piece written back in 2010, by Tim Nerenz, PhD, that I think is quite relevant today in part stated, “So who is it that caused the funding crisis in our schools and the skyrocketing tax rates on our homes? It is the same ignoramuses who are sitting on bridges, pooping on things, and passing around recall petitions. The unemployed 26-year old in the hemp hat looking for sympathy might look instead for some inspiration from Jerome I. Case, who started his agriculture equipment business at the age of 21, miraculously without an iPhone 4s. Mr. Case got rich by asking people what they want and making if for them. He did not get rich by telling people what he wanted and waiting for them to do something about it. In 1970, the new environmental movement joined unions and socialists….in 1970, manufactures paid 18.2 percent of Wisconsin’s property taxes – the major source of school funding – and in 2010 those that remained paid 3.7 percent.” The amount is even less now.

So find out what those elected officials want to spend your money on and get informed about those needs.

Thanks for reading!     ~Carlton

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