I remember watching Brad Lovell’s campaign material on what he thought a school board was for. I wasn’t going to make a big deal about his naivete, I didn’t care much about the issue so long as Lakota wasn’t asking for more money, but I was embarrassed for him. He stated he wanted to get elected to the school board to support the leadership staff at Lakota, such as the current superintendent, the treasurer, etc. The school board’s role is to manage the district and provide that leadership, not to punt to chaos and let the teacher’s union run the school. And after the late Monday night vote of April 26th, it was only Lynda O’Connor who voted against even more raises for the latest teacher’s contract. In voting yes, Brad and three other school board members, including the current President Kelley Casper, who is up for reelection this year, have guaranteed that there will be another Lakota tax levy in 2022. They will wait to put the levy up for a vote because it will be between elections for the school board members. They’ll have to due to the massive deficit spending that Lakota has been engaging in over the last several years. Only Lynda O’Conner has shown any interest in managing the money of Lakota. On the other hand, Brad and Julie Shaffer have turned over all that responsibility to the “leadership team,” which they seem to have forgotten, works for them as elected representatives.
There were options, with the way that Covid has been, this would have been an excellent time to play chicken with the train of the Lakota Education Association. They have very little leverage currently to use a strike to dispute a lack of labor contract. The market conditions being what they are now could challenge a lot of the payroll that Lakota is committed to and force some legacy teachers to retire early. Parents, after all, have become used to not having a school to take their kids to due to Covid problems, so the brand of Lakota would at least have withstood some scrutiny. And given that Lakota is a destination community for many people, it would not be hard to replace any fresh out of college teachers and full of vigor for the job, making about half the wages of a legacy teacher of $100K or more. Those are management decisions, hard ones, but the kind of decisions that we elect school board members to conduct on our behalf. Instead, what happened was that only Lynda O’Conner had the guts to vote no on a new teacher contract that has unjustified raises contained within it. The rest of the school board caved to the teacher union demands and have signed us all up for a levy fight next year. Brad and Kelly are up for reelection this year, so that’s not a good time to put a levy on the ballot. And in two years, Julie Shaffer will be up for reelection. That makes next year for a levy to be just suitable for the politics of the school board at Lakota that is much more concerned about making progressive, expensive, and overrated teachers happy rather than working on behalf of the community to keep costs in check in a challenging time.
Many people who are voters in Lakota have been seriously restricted in their professional lives, going without pay increases since Covid started, or they have lost their jobs due to layoffs or forced early retirement. Because of Covid, more people are working from home, have learned to do other things with their children since schools were closed, and many of these teachers were home sitting around doing nothing. Simultaneously, the pandemic was used politically to reshape our society into a more progressive one. The voters aren’t going to be too happy to hear that all these teachers are getting a raise and because Lakota didn’t have the money to give them a raise, it’s going to force a tax increase proposal on their property taxes. Due to Joe Biden tax increases, increases in the cost of gas, government tampering with market economy needs, and unemployment that is much higher than when Trump was in the White House, Lakota is planning to demand more money for their lack of leadership with deficit spending.
Lakota had it made; they had a community of high-income wage earners with expensive property and many businesses to tax. They had declining enrollment, which meant they were bringing in more money than they were spending, by quite a lot. That’s why there hasn’t been a levy request since 2013, when the last levy was passed. However, Lakota has managed to deficit spend its way anyway by giving teachers raises over time that wasn’t needed. They are mandating that they now have to ask the community for more money because of their lack of leadership in a changing public education landscape. The pre-Biden administration problems of charter schools are still present. The social movement to attach tax money to children instead of the school district is still a hot topic, and it’s going to change shortly out of necessity. School board members like Brad, Julie, and Kelley at Lakota can drag out the inevitable for a while, but it’s coming quickly, and these reckless spending habits that they are so used to engaging in will be a thing of the past. Soon, Lakota will have to compete with other districts in a very real way, and this kind of behavior in a very suddenly cost-conscious culture where everything is now getting more expensive due to the reckless spending of the Biden administration will change voting patterns dramatically.
But you could hear in Brad’s voice the problem from before he was even elected to the school board. Like many people who run for that office, he has no idea what it’s supposed to be doing. He likes to be someone important in the community; it gives people who want attention something to do. Still, the hard stuff is punted to a superintendent supposed to be working for the school board as the source of leadership. These people want to do the job as long as nothing hard comes up, such as voting on the teacher’s contract. But as we have witnessed, only one school board member voted against it, and she was put under tremendous pressure to vote otherwise. People like Brad Lovell care more about school board uniformity, even if it’s the wrong answer, than in the proper response and arriving there through debate. Then, of course, the LEA teacher’s union knows this going into negotiations. They know they have the votes to approve a raise for their members before the negotiation even begins. Someone like Lynda O’Conner can try to negotiate and draw a hard line, but there was no incentive for the teachers to give up anything. They only know to take, take, take. They know Brad has a wife employed by the school, that he would like to see increases to the payroll budget because it ultimately helps him through his wife. And that is the truth of the matter, something they won’t talk about in the newspapers or nightly news. So prepare yourself for a fight, next year at Lakota, there will be a tax levy. Due to this school board making terrible decisions and spending money that they didn’t have, they were confident they could steal it from the taxpayers due to their selfishness and sheer stupidity.
Cliffhanger the Overmanwarrior
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