I have learned that thirteen employees of the Menomonee Falls School District will be attending a social justice conference next week in San Francisco put on by the Carnegie Foundation. The cost is over $34,000 and the conference will be held only days before Menomonee Falls Schools is asking voters to approve a referendum allowing them to raise taxes over the state imposed spending limit.
The conference website, https://www.carnegiefoundation.org/get-involved/events/summitimprovement-education/, says the conference features “dazzling scenery, abundant activities and exquisite food.” It is being held at the tony San Francisco Marriott Marquis. The conference seems long on social justice and short on anything having to do with actual education. The website says the conference will include seminars on “creating an educational system that promotes social justice” and to “explore concrete applications of design thinking in schools” and “develop strategies for achieving large scale social change.”
Superintendent Patricia Greco and 12 other Falls school employees are attending at a cost $1,450 per registrant , $409 for the flight, $570 for lodging and $200 for meals. Greco is a speaker at the conference but says she is not being compensated. Greco, in an email, says the money comes from funds the district is paid for putting on training programs for other school districts. She offered little defense for the content other than to say district employees will be meeting with “researchers and leaders who are working globally on applying improvement science to accelerate improvement in student learning.”
On Tuesday April 4, Menomonee Falls voters will be asked to raise taxes above the state mandated spending limits. Greco and Falls school board members say significant cuts in educational programs will occur if taxes aren;’t raised. In material sent out to residents, district officials have claimed they have extracted all savings possible in their current spending.
The district has been sending employees to the Carnegie conference for years. The Carnegie Foundation is a left-leaning organization linked to liberal educational policies.
District claims school tax revenue limits leave the district short-changed. Simply not true. MFSD has the 4th highest maximum revenue limit per pupil out of 28 Milwaukee area districts. They don’t and never have had a revenue problem.
MF revenue per pupil is increasing. The district has experienced significant enrollment decreases – 12% thus far; projected 15% by 2020/21 fiscal year. Yet, total revenue has only dropped a small amount (3%).
District has long complained that decreased state aid is their main budget problem. But property tax increases have entirely made up for the state aid decreases. Total state aid and property tax is essentially the same since 2007/08. Same amount of state/local revenue to educate significantly less students.
District claims they will have a cumulative $7 million shortfall in the next five years but the referendum is asking for an additional $15 million in taxes over those five years. They want a blank check.
District claims building referendum is needed for aging facilities. This is the same argument made for the 2006 referendum which passed (>$20mil.). At the time district stated it was a long-term solution to maintenance issues.
The building referendum amount of $32.7 million is almost equal to the cumulative total of the last four referendums that passed ($38.2m).
Including interest, total potential increased property taxes over the next 20 years for both referendums – $118 million.
District doesn’t even have a detailed list of what the $32.7 million will buy. It has a list of maintenance items by school that sums to $16.3 mil. But that figure is magically rounded up to $18 million. Other items are similarly rounded up by over half a million dollars. The District wants a blank check.
Thanks to the Menomonee Falls Taxpayer Association – CPA Advisory Committee for their analysis of this referendum. For more information visit mftax.org
“Menomonee Falls has two referendums on the ballot. The one that is especially outrageous …. permanently raises their taxing power above the state limit…Not just this year… permanently overspend the limits…. raise taxes higher than state law allows permanently. What possible excuse would you have for that? It’s outrageous. If people vote for that – I don’t care how conservative Menomonee Falls seems, that’s not a conservative way of doing things…. The other is maintenance – instead of paying as you go they want to borrow…. which causes budgets to be screwed up ten years from now…. Of 28 school districts in the Greater Milwaukee area, Menomonee Falls has the 4th highest….12.3% above the state average…. Increase in property taxes has made up for the decline in state aid.”
“Private businesses address questions like the ones above all the time. They are forced to economize. Schools…. merely tell the LIE to an unsuspecting constituency and get $50 million referendums passed. The most galling part of this is that some districts actually do act responsibly. They prove you can handle state budget cuts….”
Waukesha County Supervisor Janel Brandtjen (District 5 – Menomonee Falls) congratulates Representative Don Pridemore on his retirement announcement.
“Don Pridemore has been the conservative’s conservative since he was elected in 2004 to the State Assembly. I have looked up to Don as a mentor over the years and have appreciated his insights and wisdom.
“No legislator has been as accessible as Don has; I would always know that he would take my phone call if it was concerns over legislation affecting the county or helping a constituent with government services.
“Too many legislators believe in being ‘career politicians’ – when Don ran for office he pledged to fight for the conservative message, accomplish his mission, and not make a career out of being in office. Today, Don has finished his race, and everyone in his district is the better for him having served us in Madison.
“Whether it has been relentless advocacy for the Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights, advocating for school choice as Chair of the Assembly Urban Education committee, defending the Second Amendment, respect for the sanctity of human life, or standing with Governor Walker on Act 10, conservatives knew that Don Pridemore did not just have their back, he was leading the charge. You have earned a well-deserved retirement.”