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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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From our readers

Issue Date: September 11, 2013

Letter to Editor: 

Recently, an article was published in the Peshtigo Times regarding coverage of a Coleman School Board meeting. Questions arose regarding a decline in general state aid for the district, and I would like to explain the two main reasons this is taking place.

First, a decline in enrollment. State aid is calculated on prior year data (2012-13 for 2013-14 aids). For 2013-14, Coleman had 712 students for the aid calculation, 6.1% fewer than the 758 last year. Fewer students translate into less aid.

Second, last year’s property value declined 1.8% compared to a 3.3% drop for the state. These two factors have led to Coleman’s value per student rising 4.5% while the statewide value per student dropped.

Essentially, in the eyes of the school funding formula, Coleman School District looks richer, which is resulting in less aid. Combined, these two factors account for nearly all of the change in aid.

The fact is that the actions the state legislature took in the last budget are not to blame for this aid reduction. On the contrary, I am proud to say that we increased general aids by $170 million and overall education spending is up nearly $300 million. Furthermore, it is estimated that Coleman will benefit from increased categorical aids and they will see an increase in revenue limits that will allow them the ability to make-up for the reduction in general aid. In the 2012-13 school year, districts were allowed a $50 per student categorical aid to use as they please. This school year, it will be $75 per student, or a $25 increase over last year. If you take that number and multiply it by 700-plus students that should give Coleman an extra $17,500. Combined with the revenue limit increase, total revenues will be up over $50,000. 

Another source of revenue for rural school districts are transportation aids. Coleman currently receives aid for this and will more than likely receive an increase in the future. One way we attempted to level the playing field for rural districts in the budget was by providing additional levy limit flexibility and by increasing categorical aids aimed at rural districts, including an additional $10 million for high cost transportation districts.

Additionally, the budget calls for the Joint Legislative Council to establish a rural schools task force to identify funding challenges faced by rural school districts. I am hopeful that this task force will help to develop a long-term plan to address those challenges, especially in the context of declining enrollments and transportation issues.

The bottom line is that the current school funding formula is working against Coleman as declining enrollment and higher than average property values have put the district in a position where they will receive less general aid. Moving forward, it is extremely important to have a discussion on how we can improve the formula to ensure that schools are on an even playing field, and our schools and teachers have the resources they need to provide a quality education.

As always, please feel free to contact me at my office at 888 534 0089, sign up for my electronic updates or review my Facebook page for updates.

State Rep. John Nygren,

Marinette



Editor:

Re: Marinette School District Budget in Good Shape

Mr. Cernanski couldn’t possibly be speaking on behalf of the Marinette School Board in an editorial on Sept. 5. He calls the citizens to action on Sept. 17 for the open board meeting over financial distress signals of deficits and insurance costs. But Mr. Cernanski’s claim of fiscal doom and gloom does not reflect the board’s good work over the last several years.

Total expenditures for the district actually dropped over $1 million. The fund balance has risen from $3 million to over $7 million, well above the WASB recommendation. The long-term indebtedness shrank from about $40 million to less than $20 million and will automatically continue to decrease significantly under current changes already passed by the board. A new agreement with health insurance providers will save the district nearly $600,000 next year alone.

The school board should be applauded for a job well done, not criticized for a temporary deficit because they opened a new school, brought back SAGE, reintroduced summer school and continued good building maintenance, contrary to the claims of Mr. Cernanski.

He seems to want to blame a life/long-term care insurance rise using terms like unsustainable and skyrocketing and 50% increase and 9.8 from another. The actual increase this year was $8.10/month/employee. That’s $97 a year! Over 150 retirees pay 100% of this premium themselves. The total increase to the district is approximately $20,000 for current employees. This is not what has caused or even influenced the $482,000 temporary deficit. Why mislead the good taxpayers and paint the school board and superintendent as causing great budget concerns? Not fair, they should be praised.

There is concern, however. Over the past several years Marinette has lost huge numbers of instructional staff. This year alone from August 2012 to August 2013 nearly 20 teachers, not including administrators or support staff, have left the district. Only two retired. That’s unsustainable! Many took private sector jobs for better wages and benefits. Others went to school districts with better wages and benefits. Hiring and retaining highly skilled teachers should be a primary concern. You don’t do that with more employee take-aways and continually using doom and gloom math to characterize an otherwise financially sound, well-managed school district.

Michael Maurer,

Marinette



To the Editor:

This is in response to the woman in Crivitz who is upset with the Marinette County Task Force.

Do you think it’s okay to drink and drive? Do you feel guilty about something? Why feel harassed by the Task Force? Will you complain if they are in the Northern part of the county doing the same thing?

Instead of running down the Task Force and the Sheriff, support both. Be glad the department is doing their job by getting drunk drivers off the streets.

Senior citizen or not, YOU should NOT get a break for bad habits. You and your friends still can have fun without alcohol. Find a new fund raiser for Twin Bridge Fire Department.

Please show a good example for the young people. If you are in fear of the Task Force, don’t drink at any functions or cut down.

Here are statistics for you. In 2011, 9,878 died and about 315,000 were injured (that’s about every 53 minutes), 226 children were killed in drunk driving crashes. Every day in the U.S. 27 die as a result of drunk driving, and 50 to 75% of convicted drunk drivers continue to drive on a suspended license. Every 90 seconds a person is injured and an average drunk driver has driven drunk 80 times before the first arrest. One in 3 people will be involved in a drunk driving crash in their lifetime.

We all know someone who was killed or injured by a drunk driver.

S. Stockwell



Editor:

I read on the front page of the paper and your nice new web service paper that the County Board is going to give the County Administrator a Pay Hike. WHY? 

When the inexperienced but highly paid with excellent benefits and retirement plans County Administrator was hired about two years ago she was instructed to reduce the County budget by 10%. She has not. Employees have been added, borrowing increased and she seems to be more interested in fighting for raises in pay for county employees many that only work 35 hours than she does for trimming the growing county budget and deficit. There are still many department heads that live outside the taxing area of the county. Some drive county furnished and paid for vehicles to and from work! She wants i-Pads for all 30 County Board Members, to eliminate the Coroner Post, reduce money for the elderly services, etc. The list of little expensive additions and strange recommendations goes on and on....

We need to STOP the inexperienced but highly paid with excellent benefits and retirement plans County Administrator and hold the County Board Members accountable for all of this! Please don’t wait for the next election. Pick up the phone and call them all, not just your local representative. Normally I’d also suggest emailing them but given that several don’t even have computers or internet access that may be a waste of your time. Thanks!

Sincerely,

Pete Pfankuch



Editor:

The Marinette & Menominee Parkinson Support Group would like to take the opportunity to thank Walgreen’s Drug Store in Marinette for their great support. The store held a fundraiser which will enable the local group to bring information,awareness and resources  to the public and to the medical community about Parkinson’s disease. In addition, the support will allow us to expand all outreach efforts to serve the people living with Parkinson’s, caregivers,and veterans. All funds raised will be utilized in our local areas.

The management and staff at Walgreen’s did a great job creating awareness and supporting the local communities. Our sincere thank you to all of the employees. An additional thanks to the Heider Paint & Decorating store for their donation to this effort. 

Most of all, to all the people that donated so generously, a big thank you.

The Parkinson’s Support Group meets the third Thursday of each month and provides programs of interest as well as printed information to assist in living with this disease. The support of local businesses is instrumental in keeping such groups operational.

Pat Ihler, facilitator,

Mitzi Adams, co-facilitator

Bill Desjarlais, co-facilitator


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841 Maple St
PO Box 187
Peshtigo, WI 54157
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