The School District of Beloit has had to keep up with constant increases in operating costs due to inflation, and has faced cuts in State funding.
Rather than continually raise local taxes to counteract this problem, the District has been mindful of the average taxpayer, choosing to cut taxes 17 of the last 20 years so that our tax levy is actually LESS than it was even 15 years ago!
When you adjust those dollars for inflation, we are lacking $11 Million each year that could have been spent on maintenance and other needs. While our Facilities Services staff have been wonderful in keeping on top of the basic repairs and phenomenal at keeping our buildings clean and cared for, inevitably, items like roofs and boilers must be replaced – similar to a car. You maintain the car with check-ups, regular oil changes, minor repairs as needed, but eventually, you will need to replace that car, most times taking out a loan to do so. Likewise, this is our chance to make sure our buildings are given the attention they need, the space our students deserve, and at a price that will never give as much bang for our buck as it will at this time.
We’re back to the fact, in our opinion, that it is exceedingly difficult to please everyone. You work to strike the best balance that you can. It would seem to be obvious that over these last 20 years, roughly since the last school referendum that the successive school boards have worked very hard to keep the tax levy on our community as low as possible, this in the face of rising expenses.
The fact is, our tax levy today is less than it was in 1995.
Do you suppose expenses for running the district have gone up?
So should it be argued that the school board has not been responsible because they should have been able to do even more with less as they’ve trimmed expenses in the face of rising costs?
Or should it be argued they’ve been less then responsible because they’ve not increased the levy to keep pace with rising costs?
It could be debated what should or should not have been trimmed in the interest of cost saving over these years, but consensus is difficult and slow to come by.
It could be debated what programs, services and staffing should have received more financial support in the face of ever harder to come by areas that could be trimmed further, but again consensus is slow and hard won.
But then it could also be debated that what the community needs to do is wrap up what might seem like endless study and take action, some action.
In the face of all this on thing we think is clear is that the school board and our school district employees have shown considerable restraint and made some hard choices given competing priorities about spending and stewardship of painfully given public monies.
As a percentage, how many school districts would you suppose have actual levied taxes today that are less then they were 15-20 years ago? Perhaps we’re wrong but we’d guess not many.