Wednesday, April 21, 2010

It’s About the Kids –Yea Right!

The propaganda forces from the school district have already begun what we used to call a “whisper” campaign back in the old days when I actually thought being involved with politics and assisting select candidates could actually make a difference. A whisper campaign consists of trying to persuade voters by spreading rumors, half-truths, innuendos or even outright lies throughout the voting community to the extent that they will begin to believe the information to be fact and would then likewise spread the message to their friends and neighbors, thus affecting how they cast their vote.

The school administration gang (and yes they are an organized group of gangsters) have began their whisper campaign. First and foremost,” it’s about the kids.” That sounds nice and fuzzy and as a voter it would make me think that perhaps I should forgive the board for all their past nonsensical decisions but is it about the kids really? This quaint little phrase is the catch words that people connected with the school are being encouraged to “whisper” amongst their friends and acquaintances to make you feel good about giving yet more money to be wasted to this school board administration.

Another “whisper” going around is “We may have to cut some programs for the kids.” What sensible parent of a high school student would want one of their kids programs cut? You know the cut won’t come from sports but rather from some worthy learning program that will tug on the old heart strings.

Next, teachers, aides and other staff are being told the “if the mill levy doesn’t pass a couple of you will have to go.” Now who really wants to be the one to “go” unless you are like the superintendent and go with a couple years salary? Spreading fear among the workforce about their very livelihood is always good to get a few wayward thinkers back into line. Hearing from the administration the words like “I hope the levy passes because we just can’t figure out how to make it without a couple of layoffs” always gets passed around between the employees and works well to instill fear in the workforce who in turn will gladly encourage their neighbors to vote yes.

The very fact that the election is held in the school actually tilts the scale in favor of the mill levy being passed. Why isn’t this election being held by mail ballot which would garnish a larger percentage of Havre citizens voting?

Let’s take a look at the “facts” of this mill levy request. The school brass has previously announced that the high school student numbers are down this year but through the wonderful management of the current school administration they ONLY need to ask the voters for a mere $44,552 on this mill levy to supplement their current $4,684,518 budget. The fact that the $200,000 or so of tax money wasted on a 6-month superintendent is being excused as a minor set-back is inexcusable. Interestingly, the super-duper highly qualified former Superintendent Mahon just recently made the short list to replace the superintendent in Geraldine, Montana but was beat out of the job by a young 20-ish person hired to take his first administrative position. So much for the “excellent” vetting the Havre board claims to have made into Mahon’s background before hiring him and then nearly immediately “retiring” him with a big bag of our tax money.

Another “fact” that has never been mentioned is the fact that the student numbers are actually up in the elementary district which resulted in an increase of $579,000 giving the elementary district a total budget of over 8 million dollars. If we have to have a mill levy increase when we are short a mere 44 thousand or so why don’t the taxpayers receive a mill levy DECREASE in the elementary district when we have abundance? What exactly did the district do with this extra money? Did they start new programs that will have to be sustained in upcoming years? Did they hire more staff? Teachers? Did anyone get a raise? Why is it that we never hear about any of this bonus money?

Considering all the facts this year and the shabby treatment the public has received from this board, everyone here at the Corrector will be voting a big NO on this mill levy request and encourage you to do the same.


  1. I am with you on this one and I don’t even belong to the party of No. Why didn’t we get a mill levy decrease when the elementary budget went up by a half a million dollars? Have you ever heard of a tax going down?

  2. I will vote no on the mill levy but I can’t vote for Donald Duck. How about Ebenezer Scrooge instead?

  3. Bottom line, IMO, is that by voting no in order to punish the dipwads on the board/admin/etc you will in fact be punishing the kids.

    You can be pretty sure that if actual cuts are made it will be to things directly affecting the kids, not the adults.

    As such, I must disagree with your stance.

  4. Heres the bottom line.send a message to any future board members that we hold the cards and their decision to throw 200k in the trash is what ultimately hurt the students.In fact i may send my kids to a different district all together if we can't have some say on where they spend our money.With that said.VOTE NO to the mill and vote all the current board members out.

  5. Surelyyoujest if we don’t stand up for ourselves now when will we? It will always be as the Corrector says “about the kids” in the school administrations mind. This $4,500 is less than one-tenth of one percent of the school budget. That would be like me taking a $25 per month cut on my $30,000 salary.

    The school needs to be treated like the children they teach. If your child does something wrong you may give them a warning, next time a light punishment, and then you lower the boom. I will consider my no vote as that light punishment because they have had dozens of warnings where nothing was done.

    We have allowed it to get this bad. Time to take a stand and vote no!

  6. Excellent question Corrector. Why didn’t the school board give us a levy decrease to equal the $579,000 extra funding they got from the state? I would seriously like to know the answer to that one.

    Put me down as another one that will be voting no, no, and hell no to these people. I will also be watching to see where they cut the money from and it best not be from anything to do with the kids. Have all of you forgotten who is really in charge of our schools? We are, not these dip-wads, so let’s take back control. We owe it to our kids

  7. Freddy, it's kind of like the taxes on your house. Your property value may go down due to the market, but your taxes are not going to reflect the drop in value. They will stay the same and likely go up.

  8. Suzyq said: "Surelyyoujest if we don’t stand up for ourselves now when will we"

    I would offer that the best way to "stand up" is by voting out the individuals that got us to this point. I would further suggest that voting down the levy will not be seen as a repudiation of their previous actions. They will easily be able to rationalize a no vote on the levy as about anything but them.

    Don't punish the kids in order to punish the adults.

  9. SurelyYouJest11,
    I am sure most would agree that no one wants to see the degrading of our school system by refusing a bond issue, I do not. That being said and taking the figures in the article we are talking about less than 1% of the overall budget!! One might say...well its only 1% lets just pass the bond issue and be done with it. Beyond the rhetoric of punishing the board members because of past decisions I would say this...any good manager of ANY business would be able to cut less than 1% out of any budet so that is does not affect any operations, especially the ones we serve. In this case the kids. This is about running a system in an efficient manner.

    I would tend to believe that watching useless spending throughout the system could accomplish the savings of $44k on a $4.6 million budget and if it was done system wide and diligently they may find even more savings than needed.

    For me it is about good management and asking people to pinch pennies in a struggling economy instead of coming to the tax payer and ask for more $$. This community has passed every bond issue asked of them in recent memory (if my memory serves me correctly).

    For me it is not about punishing board members, teachers, admin staff or students, it is about sound and prudent spending decisions.

  10. idiotthumper - I understand your point and in many ways agree with it. However, to expect a board to do what is right after doing so much that is wrong is asking for trouble in my opinion. Hopefully, I'm wrong but I don't hold out much hope.

  11. Surely You - I disagree with your view but that is why we all have a vote. Nobody has answered my question as to why the elementary district didn’t decrease their budget when they got that extra half-million last year? It would seem to me that if we need to raise local taxes when the school is short they would also lower taxes when they are flush.

    I looked back in some old papers I have saved about the school and noticed one of the recent articles talked about awarding a contract for $216,000 to some electrical outfit from Great Falls to replace the intercom and fire alarms this summer at the high school. The same article said they didn’t go for the part of the bid for replacing the phone system and clocks for an additional $190,000 but would instead apply that money to other projects like locker rooms and the parking lot.

    What gets my goat is that they can talk about spending 100’s of thousands of tax dollars for these things yet at the same time try and tell us the whole school will collapse if we don’t vote for the 44 thousand dollar mill levy.

    Not a word of truth comes out of the mouths of any of these school people. It is the old smoke and mirrors game.

    Great Falls voters finally told them no and now we need to also. I am voting NO

  12. Idiotthumper- I agree except with one small correction. The 44 thou is less than one-tenth of one percent of the budget way less than even the one-percent you stated.

    Like you said, any idiot should be able to cut this out of this budget without hurting the kids or teachers

  13. Voting NO will NOT hurt the kids. Do not buy into that propaganda, They have plenty of cushion in the budget in the various departments. They will just have to get busy with the pencil to spread the shortfall all around so nobody takes a big hit. the rest of us tax payers have to, it is time they did, too.

  14. I agree with voting no also as the years go by there has been so many things added to the schools I think it's time to cut a few. We the older generation who attended these schools did not have a lot of the extra's that my high school students now have, IE computers video cameras and so on and we seem to have made something of our lives and even seem to pay our taxes so the school can opperate. I think if the mill were to fail and for one year the school had to find some savings they could do so without hurting students education if not then maybe it's time for the state to step in and audit the district to find out where the money goes. If the district elects to cut a teacher or an aid to make up for the shortage then the union should request a fact finding to see where the money is being spent and suggest cuts in other areas.The teachers and the board did not seem to think that giving away tax money to Mohan for a job not completed was going to hurt students than they should think again. We the tax payers would like to have an explanation for such a act. I think it's time to whisper why Mohan got paid before the voters can pass the levy someone knows and should tell.

  15. If you are paying any taxes at all on property in Hill County you would have to be a blathering idiot to vote for this levy.

    Forget about the $200,000, forget about the out of town contractor, forget about the phone system, the new buses, the administration travel, forget about the secretive back room meetings and the hushed up stupidity, forget about the scruffy treatment you get when you question a school official, forget about the veiled threats of layoffs and program cuts, and forget about all your sad run-ins with the school system.

    But do try to remember that around 70% of your property tax bill already goes to support education, also remember that a portion of the State income tax you paid went to the school system, and remember that we are in a recession and that upwards of 10% of our people are on unemployment. Remember that most private business revenue in Havre is down by 10–20%. Remember that we are all making choices and cuts because of this economy. Remember that mill levy we are being asked for is for an increase in the school budget and its failure will not be a cut. They will still have the same budget as last year and the elementary side will have a huge increase. Did your employer or you have a huge increase this past year? Remember that we have come to the trough numerous times already to increase the budget. The roof, the new junior high, the new equipment, etc. Remember that the State legislature gave education a huge windfall increase just a couple sessions ago under the governor’s direction, where did those dollars go?

    Last of all remember that you are the boss and they are the public servants. Tell them what you want them to do and take back control.

    I am voting no, enough is enough.

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  17. As has been suggested here, holding the election at the High School makes the whole process less than equitable for the "average" voter. Has anyone looked into what the cost is to hold a mail ballot election as compared to holding an all day event with hired election officials? Everyone is looking to save $$$$. If the mail ballot is cheaper, we need to hold our school board responsible.

  18. For those interested, Montana Policy Institute has updated their schoolsopenmt web site with 2009 data. Among other things, you can compare certain info for MT school districts ...

  19. ^^ a question all tax payers in hill county need to know the answer too!!