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Make diversity and equity a priority

In life it is very important to make progress from being fully aware of current reality and learning from the patterns involved. We should always strive to improve and find balance from our mistakes. This is not happening at the highest levels in our school district. There are excessive fiscal requests and repetitive unanimous decisions that are not logical to me. We need servant leadership, a diversity of viewpoints with equity in mind. People need to be valued and heard with genuine collaboration so progressive solutions can be found.

Previously, I talked about two system leaders leaving the school district. There are two others who have talked with me. One quit and both said the thoughts I’ve shared have been accurate. Many people are not heard nor is the organization responsive to concerns.

Recently I read a letter in The Spokesman Review about accountability with school district ballot measures. Districts will say they’re asking for the same amount, but we all know we’ll pay more based on huge increases in our property values. Jacob Wagner had an excellent article in the January 5, 2022 edition of The Star newspaper that showed the median income for the Coulee area is $28,194. Our school district officials must start to respectfully respond to reality.

On 2/8/2022 our local district is requesting $2.50 for a base levy (the maximum amount allowed) and another $1.70 additional request for a $4.20 total request per $1,000 property valuation. The majority of the school districts in our state will not allow requests beyond $1.50. I am proud of these school boards; they understand and respect current reality and present patterns.

Myself, our school board members and superintendent, local business owners and others can afford the election ballot measures that our school district is requesting. However, we must look at the bigger overall picture. Pandemic wise, the recent Omicron outbreak is overwhelming in multiple ways. Inflation is soaring and interest rates are rising. Our state and federal governments are passing record budgets. Most people are still trying to get back on their feet and many are on fixed incomes. Putting others first is critical presently.

Even though it is rarely mentioned, our state and federal governments have been providing a large influx of Covid relief funds to school districts. These funds were well over a million dollars to our hometown school district in 2021 alone. They are used in many ways such as health and safety protocol enforcement, nurses, counselors, community liaisons and technology for remote learning. Our state has allowed school districts to use past FTE numbers for students to keep core systems functioning like food and transportation programs (layoffs were never necessary). Also, please remember our local school district receives additional Impact Aid funds due to our limited tax base. Our local school district with these and other funding sources must learn how to be efficient yet effective while living within their means and not asking for more than $1.50 per $1,000 valuation total from us tax payers.

I appreciate The Star seeking input on these matters. I want the best for all of our kids, but a pattern of a lack of accountability, diversity and equity not being valued, poor human dynamics, fiscal irresponsibility, and reactive, isolated decision making will lead me to vote no for our local school district ballot measures in the 2/8/2022 election. If you’re a voter who doesn’t pay taxes, please remember that most people cannot afford these requests.

John M. Adkins


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