Saturday, April 9, 2016
CHARLES FISHER of Rock Island had this letter in the April 9 Dispatch/Argus. Mark Schwiebert has asked for passage of a 1 percent sales tax for Rock Island County schools. What our former mayor has not revealed is that Rock Island already has the most expensive schools in the area, and the worst performing: 2012 data from the Federal Education Budget Project indicates that Rock Island District 41 budgeted $11,563 per student, while Pleasant Valley's much lower figure of $8,593 per student includes funds from the Scott County local option sales tax. ..... Pleasant Valley's academics far exceed Rock Island at strikingly lower cost. Rock Island offers an extremely expensive educational product that is of very poor quality in higher grade levels. If this were a commercial product in a free market, nobody would buy it. Indeed, even District 41 school board members send their children to Pleasant Valley. ..... Local unions and construction firms have contributed tens of thousands in advertising for the three previous efforts to pass this tax. Passage would greatly benefit them, but it will not help us, nor our students. ..... We heard very recently that Rock Island school board president Linda Dothard was "very disappointed in the fact we've spent this much money (($13.5 million from the federal government. Test scores have not gotten better, but we spent all this money". Hardly a surprise. ..... Rock Island schools have no budget problems -- they have management and performance problems. Management already has seized upon every tax increase they can possibly grasp, and the voters of Rock Island County must once again (for the fourth time!) tell them to stop."