What would you rather invest in, our kids, or a failed quasi-federal boondoggle?
Would you prefer to invest in our kids and teachers, or invest in a failed banker led company in conservatorship, whose assets are comprised primarily of the most toxic mortgage backed securities, whose liability covers an ocean of underwater mortgages, and who could not even be in operation if not for billions in bailouts?
Well you, my dear friends, are increasingly investing in the latter, while sticking it to the teachers and our children.
That's right, according to a recent report (See Here) I obtained from the Clerk's Office, the County, (you and I) are invested in Fannie Mae for close to $50 MILLION Dollars. In fact, over half of our County investments totaling close to $130 Million bucks are tied up in GSEs, or "Government Sponsored Enterprises," private companies backed by our tax dollars. (That means, they get the profits, we get the losses.) In fact, we are seemingly increasing the percentage of our portfolio placed with GSEs.
But meanwhile, back at the School District, we are facing a $6 million dollar shortfall and teacher layoffs. Recently School Board member Andy Griffiths has been discussing a huge reduction in bond payments that will free up close to $1 Million per month of capital outlays in October of 2015. But no one, including Andy, has offered any type of stopgap measure to get us from here to there in the interim...aside from the novel idea of a tax increase, of course.
So, if you think about it, dollars we HAVE, are invested in failed companies that need dollars we DON'T HAVE to operate. (Essentially federal debt we are saddling our children with.) In the meantime, resources we allocate to those very children being saddling with federal debt are being cut back. We have essentially created student loans for grade school kids, while providing them with less of an education. Seems like we could do better if we put the 1st graders in charge.
Here is my solution. We divest from Fannie Mae, and use some of that money to refinance the School's bonded indebtedness. We extend the terms of the debt, reducing the cost of interest to the school system, while actually allowing for an INCREASE in the rate of return on the County investment as opposed to what Fannie Mae offers. As voters, we allow for more of the millage to be redirected from capital to operational so that we can fund the current operating shortfall.
This would not cost the taxpayers anything, replenish our fund balance, and eliminate the need to layoff teachers.
However, this is not intended to let the administration and school board off the hook for their failed leadership. It's time to "Right Size" admin. That's right, it's great that we can pay these wizards boatloads of cash when times are rosy, but when the tide goes out, their boats should sink first!
We need to cap all administrative pay at $90,000, and eliminate all pay and benefits to the school board until the ship is righted. If these wizards can't accept this reduction for the good of our children, then let them leave, and leave quickly. There will be countless talented individuals from throughout our community that will step up to the plate out of dedication to the kids and our community, a type of motivation that is needed now more than ever. We no longer need placeholders, we need people that perform.
We can talk about potential teacher reductions, or teacher pay cuts, but with the mindset of whether or not it is truly feasible or warranted. But certainly not in the context that Superintendent Jara does, suggesting he is only NOW "right sizing," coincidentally when we have a $6 Million dollar shortfall, and not last year when he suggested we had "cut to the bone."
Before we cut teachers or their pay, we must remember we already did last year. Those furlough days you heard about were simply a way for the district to say, "You don't get paid for Holidays anymore." That came right out of teachers' paychecks. Also, if we need to talk about pay cuts for teachers, we need to talk disproportionately about pay cuts for admin. Whether it's a bigger drop in the bucket or not, administrators need to feel a greater pain from their own failed leadership!