Friday, May 16, 2008

No option but local option

The Sisters School Board is going to seek public input before deciding whether to ask voters to approve a local option tax to fund schools in the 2009-10 school year and beyond.

There’s not much to discuss. Sisters schools won’t be excellent without local option. They won’t even be good. Local option is 9 percent of the budget; about $1 million a year.

The schools can’t do their job without it.

There are rumblings in the community about organized opposition to local option, from people who are angry about the school district’s handling of the disallowed “homeschool” program at the Christian school, or about the district’s approval of bond funding for elementary school projects, or about the firing of a biology teacher last year — or any number of things.

Shooting down local option would be a pyrhhic victory, an act of pure destruction that achieves nothing and harms much, including those who perpetrate it.

Whatever the faults of the school district and its leadership, the community must rally as it has in the past to provide the local financial support required to make the schools function, to educate the children of our community.

There may be tactical considerations — whether to seek a vote in November or next spring; how much to ask for for how long — but the district needs to communicate one thing loud and clear. Community support through local option is critical; as a community, we cannot afford not to provide it.

Jim Cornelius, Editor


  1. It would be nice if the school district would be more honest. They constantly complain about funding while they have people stacked like cordwood. They have three or four women full-time with benefits handling payroll, accounts receivable, etc. They could easily contract with ADP to handle the payroll and cut out at least one other full time position. Leland Bliss who is a director of facilities is completely unecessary as his duties could be handled by the individual school principals. If they are in a suppposed crisis then why aren't they taking appropriate measures to control expenses. This is supposed to be supervised at some level by the board of directors, but they also do very little in this regard.

  2. It is too easy to sit there without any facts and say others should do things differently. The blogger "Anonymous" who says principals should do Leland Bliss' job doesn't know what he is talking about.

    We don't want principals scheduling the mowing of lawns, janitors between buildings, operating heating plants, ordering fuel oil, scheduling equipment repairs, etc. etc. There are many tasks that take a lot of experience to run complicated physical plants like schools.

    As to the staff in the poorly named "fiscal services" department, the blogger again shows that he doesn't know what those people do, or what the cost is of alternatives.

    "Anonymous" needs to get his butt out of the chair in front of his computer and down to a school board meeting or a school budget meeting.

  3. There is no way I will be voting to give more money to the schools! The district has shown that they do not handle money or implement programs well and betrayed taxpayers by passing their last bond without voter approval! With the way the economy is they had better tighten up their spending just like everyone else!There is so much waste going's too bad Sister's couldn't be more "cutting edge" with green tehnology in our schools. I hope all voters will send a clear and resounding NO in response to more money!

  4. It might be good history lesson to look back in the archives of the Nugget to when we first thought of the idea of the local option. I have and basically the goal was to raise 4 to $500,000 to help purchase text books, supplies as well as fund "badly needed repairs". It was presented as a temporary tax that would go away after we funded those needs. Lets be real honest here: These funds are now a "drug" we are addicted to ... There is no way we are going to be able to walk from the option but what we can do is learn from our past and limit the amounts the option contributes. I have seen two kids through all twelve years of our Schools. We have good teachers, great facilities but a tendency to not live within our means. The real issue is when enrollment drops due to the aging of our citizens (starting to happen now) and a lack of new kids moving in due mostly to the cost of housing coupled with Redmond getting a new High School and Sisters loosing those kids we could be whipsawed big time. Just wait for that capital call in the form of a larger "local option". Its on the horizon and we better be watching.

  5. I have been to board meetings, am intimately connected with the schools in this district and know what goes on. I know that prior to high school we had Bob Martin, who was hired by his wife in move of pure nepotism by his wife Jan, to get him out of the valley. He was hired to supervise construction and was there long after. This was part of the corrupt Swisher era that left us 2.1 million in fraudelent debt. He finally left after his wife followed Mr Swisher to Prinville.

    I know what is involved in payroll and accts receivable and payable. I ran a large company manually for years prior to computers and I know what ADP is about. Paying salaries, full benefits and PERS is much more expensive that outsourcing. I also know what the principals in this district do and what they don't do. As I stated beore, if we are in crisis then we have to ask more from all and trim the fat. Oh, I forgot this is public education, a sacred cow that needs reform badly.

  6. Wow, "Anonymous" really gets around! I'll join the club!
    Whichever anonymous is responsible for the crazy idea that principals should be in charge of maintenance should be completely ignored since he/she obviously has NO IDEA what principals do. I suppose our mayor should be in charge of the maintenance schedule at the city park too.
    What is clear throughout the letters is a belief that money has been spent carelessly. While history can teach us, we must live in the present. I think if you watch closely you will see a superintendent in place right now with every intention of managing the budget carefully. She and the board will have to show why we need the local option if we expect to pass it. From where I sit, not passing the local option will mean larger class sizes, delayed maintenance and cuts in textbook budgets and technology. And please, let's not even try to bring up the archaic notion that teachers are paid too much and have fantastic benefits. I know dozens of teachers and most of them can barely afford to live here let alone retire here.
    While any system can use improvement, I think perhaps the perspective we should take is from the other end. Look at the rich experiences our students get and how well prepared the vast majority of them are when they graduate. No matter how you measure it, Sisters School District students are outperforming the rest of Oregon in everything from academics to athletics. If my extra dollars for the local option help support that difference, it's only sensible to vote "yes" on any and every local option to come up. You get what you pay for and decent education costs decent money.

  7. qYou obviously have no children in the schools ...and anonymous is more than one he/she ..It is the voice of the public who has to support the system that on my anonymous level has to protect themself in order to present facts and say HEY something has gone awray here!!!I would have gotten fired!!for making the mistakes the old guard has maded!!The deal is I no longer have my children in the schools here and have chosen to educate them via the internet because of any more you are either "a have or have not here.".which is economically racist and my children see, hear .and live it in their schools..My only hope is that we will soon see more people shunning public schools in order to teach our children life skills @ home (growing food..fixing things, recycling , curbing consumption and dealing with life rather than throwing money @ a system that no longer works! I appreciate your comments but until you have a freshman on open campus up at that overbuilt shrine of a high school I will continue to comment as anonymous!

  8. Isn't it great to have options? If the last post is directed at the one above it the writer has it wrong. I have children in the system and couldn't be more pleased with our public schools. I am very familiar with home schooling as well as private education and choose to have my kids in the public school. Again, thank goodness we have choices!
    By the way, you can "close" the campus for your student, but that is a parenting issue.