27J mill levy draws opposition from familiar source

By Kevin Denke
Posted 9/29/10

    BRIGHTON — School District 27J’s push for a voter-approved mill levy override increase has drawn opposition from a familiar source.

    Anti-tax …

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27J mill levy draws opposition from familiar source


    BRIGHTON — School District 27J’s push for a voter-approved mill levy override increase has drawn opposition from a familiar source.
    Anti-tax advocate and frequent political candidate Tom Janich is again making his thoughts known on the school district’s latest funding request. The school district is asking voters for a 4-mill increase that could generate additional annual property tax revenue of about $3.2 million.
    Janich, who has been an outspoken and often singular voice of public criticism to previous 27J tax increase efforts, doesn’t believe the school district and its teachers union have done enough belt tightening on their end. He believes the money, which the district says it would designate to three sub areas of teacher hiring and retention, classroom improvements and safety, will go solely toward increasing teacher salaries and benefits.
    “There’s absolutely no accountability here,” Janich said. “If part of this question was to freeze wages for 5 or 10 years, maybe the money might do something. I really wish public education would have a school board that had enough gumption to not renew their union contract and get rid of them. Unions do a lot of work to put their people in there, people that believe the way they do.”
    In addition to teacher salaries and benefits, he also thinks the district could cut back in terms of administrators.
    Janich said the district focuses on the impact the mill levy increase will have on residential property tax rates (an estimated $32 per $100,000 of home value) but doesn’t focus on the impact to businesses.
    “Four mills is almost four times the amount on businesses,” he said. “Here you have businesses struggling like crazy. They always want to talk about the residential home, how it’s just this tiny, little bit. That’s how we got into this total mess. The school mill levy is the largest tax mill levy on everybody’s tax bill. You go throw four more mills on businesses that are taxed at somewhere near three or four more times than residential. You’re kicking them in the teeth with another $1,000 to $2,000 to $3,000 in taxes.”
    School district officials contend that they rank at the bottom in mill levy override funding among metro area school districts and that the latest increase, if passed, would do little to change that.
    Janich, a former 27J school board member who is currently running against incumbent Judy Solano in the House District 31 race, also criticizes the district for what he deems continued inefficiencies, including not using year-around schooling to accommodate growth.
    “When I left there in 2005, we had a big study done on year-round schooling,” he said. “They should have been to year-round schooling like every other fast-growing district has always had to do. People might not like it that much and I know the school teachers probably can’t stand it because they always said how much they like their summers. But the bottom line is you get 25 percent more capacity out of year-round schooling.”
    He blames the district for also failing to implement a full online school curriculum that could not only generate additional per-pupil revenue but also provide another choice for parents.
    Janich has always been strictly anti-tax and his message of past years was largely built on “growth paying its own way,” he also admits disenchantment with the public education system in general.
    “I’ve said for a long time that one of the biggest problems is the deterioration of the family unit,” he said. “My goodness what public education has had thrown at them. But the facts are the facts. They’ve got to deal with what they’ve got to deal with.


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