A Response from a Board Member - A Resolution Calling for Termination of Voucher School Funding from Public Education Funds | WisCommunity

A Response from a Board Member - A Resolution Calling for Termination of Voucher School Funding from Public Education Funds

March 29, 2021 - 7:41pm

The following is my opinion as a taxpayer in the School District and a School Board Member. I am expressing my opinion only, not the opinion of the entire board or any other individual board member.

Why as a School Board Member I voted against the resolution. – It’s all about respect and representing our community well.

In her letter to the editor, Ms. Foust asked the following; Why would elected officials, whose duty is to provide a strong public school system while prudently shepherding its financial health, not go on record to defend the School District of the Menomonie Area?

Part of the answer to the question is – They already have. Back in 2019, the board voted to approve the resolution as discussed below. Since I was not on the board at that time, I did not have the opportunity to vote on it, but I would have voted to approve the resolution had I been able to do so.

There are three main reasons why I did not vote in favor of the recent resolution brought before the Board.

  1. Resolution as presented did not represent our district well

One of the duties of a school board member is to represent our district in a professional manner. As I am sure most of you know in the recent past there have been some instances where individual members of the board failed to represent our district and our community well. From my point of view, because it happened during a meeting and was directly related to the district, the most recent incident was the most egregious.

In my opinion the way that this resolution was written would have been another instance of our board casting a negative light on our community. As I mentioned in the board meeting where this resolution was discussed, I would be inclined to vote for a resolution if it were not so antagonistic. Given the makeup of the Legislature I do not believe that sending such a combative resolution to them would have represented our community well. Later in the post I will include links to the resolution as presented to our board and the resolution that the Wisconsin Association of School Boards (WASB) voted on and passed at their delegate assembly in 2019. The same resolution that our board voted on and passed earlier that same year. You can decide for yourself if the more recent version represents us well and if you believe that it would have gotten anyone in Madison to change their mind.

  1. Inaccuracies in the proposed resolution itself

There are many areas in the proposed resolution that are simply not accurate or at a minimum twist what is really happening. Again, I do not believe that we would be representing our community well by presenting such a document.

  1. WASB has a resolution process

As mentioned above, the district voted on and signed a resolution that was also passed by the delegate assembly. WASB has a process for resolutions to be approved and formally presented by WASB to the legislature.

The bullets below are from the WASB website discussion on board advocacy, for these reasons alone I do not believe the resolution as written would have been a good representation of our district.

  • While board resolutions are important and official acts of your locally elected school board, on their own they are not strong legislative advocacy efforts.

  • Board resolutions can be a vehicle to help promote greater awareness on the part of board members, the public and legislators of an issue or concern, but they are not an end in and of themselves. Consider them the beginning of the conversation.

  • Format your resolution as a letter.

  • Things to avoid

    • Being rude and disrespectful. This will undermine your message and negatively impact your credibility. This, in turn, makes it less likely they will listen seriously to you (and your board) in the future.

  • Successful advocacy is about building relationships not weakening them.

  • Providing false information. Nothing will destroy your credibility faster.

Some in the community are now trying to portray the vote against this resolution as a vote against protecting taxpayers. They are trying to portray this resolution as some sort of binding document that would have kept property taxes down. This is just not the case, the resolution had we voted in favor would have simply been sent to the legislators for them to read and decide for themselves the future of school vouchers. Ask yourself, if you had received this resolution would it have made you want to change current law? Or would you have simply discarded it? I believe that the resolution as written would have created or strengthened an animosity that would have to be overcome to create real change which is what we are all looking for.

To conclude, as I said at the board meeting during discussion on this issue, I do not like vouchers as they are currently being implemented in our state. I am in favor of a major overhaul of the program, but the resolution as presented is not the way to get the people we want to work with to listen.

I welcome this discussion and thank Ms Foust for bringing it out into a public venue to ask the question. If you have any questions about why I voted the way I did on any topic, please contact me in whatever method is best for you. You will find my contact information on the school district website. I look forward to a civil discussion on the issues at any time. Here are the links to the resolutions you decide for yourself.

As voted on by the School Board on Feb. 22, 2021

From the Delegate Assembly at the WASB Convention (Page 3 Resolution 2.70)

Charlie Schneider  - School Board Member - School District of the Menomonie Area

Comments

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Dear Mr. Schneideer,

I find your excuse for not supporting our community disrespectful of the school board's independence and abilty to tell the public where it is being harmed.   Respect and representing our community well are the principles you feel that this resolution violates.  It appears that you feel it's important to be respectful of the Legislature, or maybe it is really more about not embarassing Mr. Moses, who is a Republican member of the Assembly.  Certainly Mr. Moses would have problems with his bosses in the Legislature who are responsible for these vouchers if he had to carry this resolution back to Madison.  Basically you are saying that our school baord is supporting the majority Party's position on vouchers by rejecting this resolution.

You also declare that there are "inaccuracies" and "twist what is really happening" without stating what these inaccuracies are or what is the true reality that is misrepresented.  Are there also "communists" in the school district?  This is an old political ploy, making a vacuous accusation without substance.

If as you say, without clarification, you do not like vouchers as they currently are constructed, what vouchers do you like?  If you really wanted to send a "constructive" resolutrion to Madison, why didn't you offer an alternative resolution?  Frankly, I believe you do not want anything that challenges anything the Republican Party supports like clean energy, which you also opposed.  

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