The Whitewater Schools’ Operational Referendum

The Whitewater Schools have an operational referendum on the ballot this November. The referendum figures, for a conventional four-year term, will allow the district to continue regular programming and services without interruption. Nothing in this operational request involves more capital (construction) or expansion of services – the amounts authorized will simply allow Whitewater’s schools to continue their existing (increasingly good) work. (Information about the particulars of the referendum may be found online.)

Support for this referendum is in Whitewater’s interest (1) to assure continued services and progress, (2) to avoid the distracting & debilitating disorder that has beset nearby communities, and (3) as a safeguard against uncertain state and national economic trends.

Although I have been skeptical of past construction referendums, this is an operational referendum, to maintain class sizes and current programming for the district’s students. This sort of referendum merits one’s support.

There’s been clear progress in Whitewater these last two years. This new administration has based its primary efforts on broad-based gains for students. Longtime readers may recall that a few years ago I was – rightly – critical of using the test scores only of a small sample to tout progress for the district. The state has since then required testing from more students, and this new administration has worked successfully to improve scores generally. Recent good scores have come from a larger population rather than a smaller, selected one.  Standardized testing is only one measure of success, but now the district can be proud of improving numbers from many and not few.

Meanwhile, nearby districts have descended into conflicts over capital spending, debates that necessarily distract from discussions of programming. (There are only so many hours in a day.) Predictably, the officials in those other districts have not only failed to keep an even keel, but they’ve also resorted to lies and open government violations to hide their errors.

We have avoided other communities’ disorder and dishonesty, and maintaining existing programming is the simplest, most practical way to remain free from others’ debilitating mistakes.

We face, also, an uncertain state and national politics. There is so much that one doesn’t know about the immediate future, especially state fiscal policy or national economic conditions. Faced with uncertainty, the most practical course is to continue with the last two years of steady local progress.

And look, and look – there are particular policies with which one will disagree. And yet, and yet – it would be counterproductive to interfere with a positive direction.

Support for students’ genuine day-in, day-out educational needs is the purpose of this referendum, and that’s a cause worth supporting.  I urge others in our community, of whatever politics, to join in support on November 6th.

4 comments for “The Whitewater Schools’ Operational Referendum

  1. A Town Squire
    11/01/2018 at 2:11 PM

    We were waiting to see where you would come out on this. We know that you have been critical on the construction side. We all agree that being practical is way to go. Nice to see you feel that way. Good because its all about keeping things stable. This take is practical. Gotta agree about Milton: that is one crap storm for sure. No oen wants that here.

  2. Sue
    11/01/2018 at 2:28 PM

    I wasn’t sure about another referendum but I see this point. It keeps things level. It’s hard to tell how many people really get this. A lot of people probably think it’s the same purpose as the last referendum. Some people definitely are frustrated but the solution isn’t drastic action. Nice job. I will vote yes.

  3. ORD
    11/01/2018 at 3:53 PM

    The topic of school funding is one that is not easily consumed. In short, supporting this referendum is a solid move, an investment in human capital. Unfortunately, the referendum is only a status quo referendum – for the most part keeping only existing resources serving our children with no significant increases in educational opportunities in spite of increasing challenges and opportunities. Additionally, the district’s increasing reliance on a revenue limit override is currently residing at 10% of the overall revenue limit authority; failure would lead to a dismantling of the district’s existing programs thus harming our children, our community and our investment for the future.

    I tire of those who shout that the district should cut the fat, budget more wisely, do more with less and so on with no or little understanding of the challenges that teachers and support staff face on a daily basis. I’m sure parents and college students would like local landlords to cut the fat, budget more wisely, do more with less and so on so that rent would be cheaper and more affordable. Granted, public entities have a social contract to wisely use resources, I trust WUSD is doing just so. If I had doubt, I would have attended a public meeting to listen, inquire and understand. Public education can not fail.

      11/02/2018 at 6:57 AM

      Thanks for your comments. Merely holding one’s own is disappointing; it’s the least one should do. Your observation that marginal operational reductions would have disproportionately large (and harmful) consequences is insightful. There’s really no community in our area that could weather these reductions well.