Saturday, March 31, 2012
I am fiscally responsible so I know a good investment when I see one.
Investing in infrastructure, facilities and technology renovations in the Beloit School District will pay dividends today and into the future. I support the district referendum because strategically investing now is a wise expenditure. In today’s financial environment interest rates are at historically low rates and construction costs affordable. Now is the time to get the most for our money.
As the president of the Board of Education I have been charged by the board and the community with stewardship of both academic excellence and the fiscal stability of the district. The board has made it a priority to educate the public about the extensive capital and infrastructure needs at our schools.
The Board of Education unanimously agreed the April 2012 election was the right time to ask the community to support a comprehensive long-range facilities plan.
Base your decision on the facts and the economic impact this plan will have on the community.
Fact #1: The Beloit School District is fiscally responsible. We cannot afford to continue to make Band-Aid repairs on buildings that expert architectural analysis confirms have outlived their useful life. Prior to the board’s decision we took into account the economic challenges facing our community as well as the documented and serious concerns regarding our aging facilities. We were careful to complete the due diligence needed to ensure the planned improvements represent an important and responsible investment in our students, community and future.
Fact #2: The Beloit School District is recognized at state and national levels for outstanding academic achievements. A few include: The best academic results in Beloit history, National AP Honor Roll, National Blue Ribbon School, National GPA award for Boys and Girls Swim Team, and National Jazz Competition Winner. We are also experiencing a plethora of visits from state, national and international schools to explore “how Beloit is doing it.”
Fact #3: The property tax impact will be very little over the long term. The school district is entering a period where debts from previous projects are being retired. Reappropriating those savings and an increase of $5.63 a month to the average taxpayer the referendum will be fully funded.
Fact #4: Beloit has the lowest local property tax value per student out of the 422 school districts in the state. Each student in Beloit has $1,875 of local property tax behind them compared to the highest at $28,474 per student in North Lakeland (data from http://dpi.wi.gov/sfs/xls/cmprev11.xls ).
Fact #5: The quality of our school facilities does not match the high quality of the education. Beloit can only grow a strong local economy by having new businesses and families choosing to move here. With the coming of the casino, imagine the potential growth for Beloit. New families and businesses will be looking at Beloit comparing our quality of life to neighboring school districts. Beloit stands out for its academic success. Let’s stand out for our quality facilities too.
Fact #6: It is virtually impossible to achieve consensus on the inclusion of all elements in a comprehensive referendum plan. I believe the proposed plan effectively addresses a significant number of critical needs with the benefit of addressing them at a time which would require a small school tax increase on our community.
I firmly believe that the repairs, renovations and enhancements included in the district’s long-range facilities plan are necessary, and that now is the time to act. We cannot wait to only get less for our tax dollars.
Invest in the future of this community, and join me in voting “yes” on April 3.
Shannon Scharmer – Beloit
(Beloit School Board Chair)