Recently I requested information from our local USD 373 school district.Here are some things I learned: USD 373 has authority to spend up to about $63,000,000 this year. This is substantially more than when Hamm became superintendent in 2012. I had been led to believe that we had been cut to the bone. USD 373 has continued build "cash reserves," throughout the time they were complaining about "cuts" and suing taxpayers for more money. The district has almost $11,000,000 in their bank account. They will tell you this is needed in case the state cannot meet it's obligations. Each year for who-knows-how-long we've paid a lawyer to sue taxpayers using money that was meant for the classroom. In one recent year Newton students and teachers were "robbed" of over $30,000 in order to sue ourselves. Now we have more money than ever and yet we're apparently still paying lawyers to sue, only now we call it "membership fees." How much money will actually go to teachers? What is USD 373 doing better this year to help students learn? How is the "new money" being used? What evidence will they provide? Will the teachers receive most of the new money? We owe over $10,000 per student by my count. If the new school bond passes we will owe over $30,000 debt per student. South Breeze will still be landlocked, there won't be a school south of 50, Chisholm will still be Chisholm, and the high school will still be an aging building. On the bright side, at least we'll have 3 gyms at the high school so we can sit around and collaborate. Will there be a tangible benefit to students worth $30,000 each? I did not receive the superintendent's salary as requested, but last year it was over $138,500 plus a generous expense package. The teachers did their part, dutifully going door-to-door for liberals, but apparently the district isn't enthused about paying them off now. Will the district provide "suitable funding" for teachers? Will the difference in pay between our superintendent and beginning teacher salary be equitable? Will the teachers sue the district on the basis of equity? Will we ever talk about student learning and achievement? Will anyone be held accountable for students who are not successful? Wouldn't it be great if we had school board members who care about teachers and students?
— Jason Mitchell, Newton