Letters to the Editor

Tax burden

July 9, 2010


To the editor:

Scott Morgan has earned a grade of F for his term on the school board. It would seem we’ve not improved our situation with Rich Minder, the new board president: (“School board to consider raising taxes,” Journal-World, July 4).

This board has learned nothing from the school budget cuts for 2010-2011. Its members blindly assume Lawrence residents can afford to support their questionable plans. Look at how they have frivolously spent money in the past years — not only on athletic fields, but on teachers’ salaries. Has everyone forgotten that many of these teachers appear in classrooms MAYBE eight months a year for MAYBE eight hours a day? And that our universities consistently decry the pathetic lack of education most of our children receive?

Today’s kids are attuned electronically, not taught to read, write, spell, cipher or THINK. They watch DVDs instead of reading books, essays are not assigned, and kids learn how to take and pass tests so the state’s standing will rise. Commendable. NOT!

Lesson to be learned: Work within your budget. Many residents simply cannot afford any more tax increases. Many of us are trying to live on a woeful KPERS pension which hasn’t increased in over 10 years and no Social Security increase for 2010. Next option: Move out of the state of Kansas.


Liberty_One 7 years, 11 months ago

"Next option: Move out of the state of Kansas"

The situtation isn't much better elsewhere, however there is one state where the tax burden is low and the government non-intrusive: New Hampshire.

NH has no general income tax and no general sales tax, and the lowest tax burden of any state in the US. Unemployment is lower in NH as well http://www.nh.gov/nhes/elmi/unempnr.htm yet median household income is the highest in the country at $67,508 http://www.statehealthfacts.org/comparemaptable.jsp?ind=15&cat=1 Also, NH towns vote on their budgets line by line so that you know exactly what your local politicians are doing with your money. State reps get paid only $100 a year too. http://www.ncsl.org/LegislaturesElections/LegislatorsLegislativeStaffData/2008LegislatorCompensation/tabid/14840/Default.aspx NH also has the lowest poverty rate in the country: http://www.eagletribune.com/local/x1876446357/Poverty-rates-lowest-in-NH NH also has strict protection for the right to bear arms and the lowest crime of any state: http://os.cqpress.com/rankings/CrimeStateRankings_2009.pdf

So if you are thinking about the next option, consider New Hampshire.

notajayhawk 7 years, 11 months ago

But it IS frikkin' COLD there!!

(The grass isn't always greener on the other side - sometimes it's buried under 12 feet of snow!)

sourpuss 7 years, 11 months ago

NH's median income is high because people work in Boston and NY and commute up there to avoid taxes. There is a reason everyone lives in the very southern part of it.

P Allen Macfarlane 7 years, 11 months ago

"Next option: Move out of the state of Kansas."

What's keeping you? You could certainly find "cheaper" states to live in, but as the saying goes: you get what you pay for. I would also remind you that it is your choice to live on what KPERS provides. You could go out and get a job, just like many of us.

Since you lumped athletic fields improvements in with teacher salaries, it is obvious that you do not think that teachers deserve a raise for the hard work they in the classroom to help improve the lives of the next generation. If you have never walked a mile in teacher's shoes, you would have some appreciation for the difficult, often impossible task they have taken on. We as taxpayers don't give them enough support. Teacher salaries in Lawrence are among the lowest in comparison to other districts of similar size. Lawrence has lost many of its best teachers to other districts in part because of this.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 11 months ago

The school board bypassed the voters because they could and were concerned that taxpayers would vote no on the sports spending. They also felt what they did was necessary and over due. I would challenge them. Was every aspect of this project necessary?

I still say leave it to the taxpayers thus allowing WE taxpayers the right to vote on all large spending and let the chips fall where they may. Taxpayers can force the issue.

USD 497 made changes to the site plan along the way that were not approved which is to say city inspectors need to keep a closer eye on new construction projects OR mandate that all changes be approved by the city commission or else start over.

USD 497 is not the only group that alters site plans along the way. It is far more common than we would like to believe. Some builder/developers will agree with the powers that be publicly to get a project underway then make changes as they see fit. Keep YOUR eyes open.

Our teachers on the other hand are actually busy 12 months a year and deserve better pay. This 8 months a year thinking is a misconception. AND they spend a lot of time after school at home doing teacher work.

Face it Lawrence powers that be have been busy over extending Lawrence taxpayers for about 15 years. Better start paying attention to City Commission meetings and BOE meetings.

There is still $16.7 million worth of public school repairs that has been allowed to accumulate over the years apparently instead of maintaining school buildings as we go. This policy likely should change. The LJW brought this matter to our attention in 2007. http://www2.ljworld.com/polls/2007/oct/how_should_school_district_pay_20_million_maintena/

tomatogrower 7 years, 11 months ago

"Has everyone forgotten that many of these teachers appear in classrooms MAYBE eight months a year for MAYBE eight hours a day? "

What? I suppose if you are only including time actually in front of children, yes, it would add up to 8 months, but the school year is about 9.5 months, then there are the classes they have to take to keep their license. And 8 hours/day? Sure, at school. What about the work they take home after they take care of their own children and send them to bed.

And how do you know what students are doing in school? Have you been in a school lately? It doesn't sound like it. And they do have to do things electronically. It's the way of the world now. I'm not a spring chicken, but I've kept up. KU used to offer computer classes to retired people, I think. Take a class and learn something new.

If you are retired, good for you. I know for a fact you may have retired early, if you are presently on KPERS. Many people can retire early if their service plus age adds up to a 80 or 85, can't remember which. Many retire when they are in their late 50's. So why not go out and get a part time job, but without the skills to do things with all this computers stuff, being a door greeter is all you could do. Or better yet, move. Mexico is cheap for retirees.

Kasha 7 years, 11 months ago

You "know for a fact" I may have retired early? What is your source? I retired when I was 65-1/2 years old. I will soon be 85 years old. I put in twenty-five years at the Univ. of Kansas, raised three children, and, before marrying, was a Corporate Secretary in San Francisco. I also worked part-time while attending College. Talk to me about multitasking! I taught myself to use a computer and am researching my genealogy. So far, I'm back to 1580 on my paternal side. I write a monthly column for a branch of K.U., where I also volunteer two afternoons a week. I also work two weekends a month where I live. So I don't plan to get out and find a part-time job--not even as a greeter at WalMart. Don't judge me. You don't know me.

parrothead8 7 years, 11 months ago

You say we shouldn't judge you because we don't know you...but you seem to have no problem judging all teachers, based on a few scattered experiences you've had, even though you don't know them.

It's not the teacher's fault they are "teaching to a test." It's the DOE's fault. No Child Left Behind...what a joke.

Kasha 7 years, 11 months ago

Tomato Grower:

P.S. And yes, I am well aware of what teachers are not doing in the classroom. Another one of my "retiree pastimes" was being surrogate mother to two of my grandchildren while their mother commuted 250 miles round trip for her job for two years. This included teacher conferences and class visitations. I was appalled. The students were out of control and the teacher exercised no discipline of any kind. One teacher was dressed as if she had just come into the classroom from a hike on the Appalachian trail. Any subject she tried to discuss was met with total chaos as students blew straws at each other, a couple of them fought, and the noise level would make rock music sound like a whisper. The situation was so out of control that City police patrolled the halls the entire time that students were on the premises. But on the plus side -- the teachers weren't yet called by their first names.

And for users of electronics: ever stop to think what would happen if there were a total blackout in the USA and you had no spare batteries? How could you possibly communicate not knowing how to read, write, or speak? Don't think it couldn't happen. And try READING a book instead of watching it on DVD. Maybe some day teachers will once again assign essays. Right now they don't want to be bothered having to read and grade them. But kids are being "taught to the test," right? Gotta raise the rankings!

tomatogrower 7 years, 11 months ago

And another thing. I find it disgusting that someone who has made a living from tax monies, but is now retired, thinks that it's wrong to pay other people who work for the government. That's as hypocritical as the tea party members who hate the federal government, but want their social security and medicare, and want all the highway system, and why can't they fix education? And why don't they pour more money into the war? And we need more police officers, because someone broke into my house. And my grandson is a future pro soccer player, we need new fields. Gimme all those things, but don't raise my taxes, and don't pay anyone to do all this stuff. They should be happy to do it. Teachers should be happy to put up with my sweet precious baby and grandbabies who do no wrong for free. People like this woman is why I decided not to become a teacher after working as a para.

dpowers 7 years, 11 months ago

This letter is a fine examle of "What's the matter with Kansas?" Get a clue, lady!

Kasha 7 years, 11 months ago

To One-Eye Wilbur: With my "luxurious KPERS Pension" and Social Security, I can barely pay my rent. And I pay around $5,000 a year for supplemental health insurance. If you thank that is enviable, I can only guess you are a homeless person.

Kasha 7 years, 11 months ago

Tomato Grower: You have your experience at viewing teachers in their blue jeans and sweats, I have mine. At least you admit they don't "work" twelve months a year. Explain why they want to be paid the same as a professional person (doctor, lawyer, etc) who probably works sixty hours a week--considerably more than 9.5 months a year. Explain why I run into teachers shopping and eating out on their "lesson planning days." And they're paid for that?

Also, don't forget that I've paid taxes and contributed to Social Security my entire working life. It's not like I'm on the dole like so many others. I decided at one point to become a teacher, but one semester in the School of Education and I walked out. I had raised three children, each different from the other,, and now the Professors were telling me to address the kids in my classes all as average C students? Need I say more?

tomatogrower 7 years, 11 months ago

I worked in the schools as a para everyday a few years ago, and I never saw what you saw. Yes, sometimes they watched DVD's. Sometimes it seemed like there wasn't any control, because the students were working together in groups, and not just sitting there like autotrons, like I had to do when I went to school. Teachers work hard to do what's called differentiated learning. Meaning they try to address all levels in their classrooms. They make challenging activities for the smart kids and give extra help to the struggling kids. If you visit just every once in a while you don't get a very good feel of what really goes on.

Teachers do not make anything near what doctors and lawyers are paid. Not even close. Doctors and Lawyers make 6 figures, easy. The average pay for teachers in Kansas is around $47,000. Hmmm, even doubled that would not be 6 figures, and teachers work more than half the year.

I find it hard to believe you ever went to the School of Education. You have to apply to be admitted, and you have to take some lower level classes where you observe classes. This helps people decide whether or not they really want to teach. I was going to become a teacher, but I decided I couldn't handle people like you gracefully. I probably would have told you where to go. Not just anyone is allowed to take education classes.

Kasha 7 years, 11 months ago

To DP Powers

I HAVE a clue. The problem with society is their apathy. The by now infamous "me, me, me" generation is alive and loafing--caring only about his/her electronic possessions and probably totally unaware of what is going on in the world.

If you want to sit back and let our country, state, county, and city tax us without end because their members don't know how to live within a budget, fine. You've convinced me that all I need do is send the bills I can't pay to, say, our pathetic City Commissioners, and let them find the money within their budget. Fair is fair. Thanks. I never would have thought of that.

tomatogrower 7 years, 11 months ago

Kasha, I think you would be much happier in Texas. Bye.

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 7 years, 11 months ago

I just read on the Topeka CJ website that Douglas County was thinking about raising property taxes over 16%. Why isn't that information in this paper? Thank you, Lynn

Michele Trompeter 7 years, 11 months ago

Wow! I didn't know that I was not supposed to go out to lunch during my lunch break on the days that I am working at school without kids. But wait, some people think the only time I am working is when I am in front of a classroom full of kids, and others think I'm not really working even then. I guess those recording and reporting days are really more days off for me. On those rare days when I do get to go out to lunch, and they are rare, since I have maybe 20 minutes tops to eat most days of the year, those other people I see eating out must not be on their lunch break from work. According to Kasha, working people should not go out to eat for lunch. Oh, wait, Kasha insinuated that TEACHERS should not go out to eat.
I hate the emphasis that has been placed on the No Child Left Behind tests. The last thing I want to spend time on is preparation for these tests. The pressure is coming from above. Thank the federal government for the emphasis on testing, and stop berating teachers. The bottom line is that the kids must pass these one shot tests that do not really give a true picture of what they know. If they don't, then it looks like they are not making adequate yearly progress, and the school is punished. You think it is wrong that we prepare for the tests, yet what would you say if the school didn't pass?

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