Four times, our Supreme Court has found the school funding system in our state to be unconstitutional. Yet, absent any new remedy by our state legislature, school districts are forced to rely on the very mechanisms that traditionally have been met with the most resistance and uncertainty. Clearly, property tax levies are not the long term answer to school funding woes, but they are the reality today as our government has not provided an acceptable alternative. In Woodridge, the last new levy was approved in 2004. Stretched for eight years now, those funds can no longer sustain the district.
In times like these, it would be easy for you to blame the schools and turn down requests for new funds. To do so, however, would be to sacrifice opportunities for our students at a time when competition for jobs requires that our students graduate with well rounded experiences in diverse fields of study. In our district, we have been able to trim $2.1 million dollars from the operational budget over the last two years. Additional cuts now will reduce programs, eliminate opportunities, and cripple our academic program.
We know that we face a tough spring as we sit down with both of our unions to discuss successor contracts. Law requires that we address employment issues through collective bargaining. As both contracts expire next summer, we will begin the process of bargaining this spring. We know what our community expects and will work with our employee groups to find solutions.
There are those who publically oppose our levy. It is interesting to note that the face of our opposition does not live in the Woodridge district. He claims to be advocating for changes in government spending and has created a political action committee to that end. I would suggest, however, that focusing on a local levy is not the way to change government spending. Instead, I would ask that he, and others, join with us as we work through and with our legislature to find real solutions. Working collaboratively with other school districts and communities across the state, we can create meaningful change together.
I urge you to VOTE YES on Issue 5 to preserve the academic and co-curricular programs of the Woodridge Local School District.
Walter C. Davis, Superintendent