This is for the Elementary/High School Trustee, a 3-year term. These are the candidates on my ballot:
The election is on Tuesday, May 5. That means I’m going to fill in my ballot today and put it in the mail tomorrow. The problem is that I don’t know hide nor hair about those three people. I didn’t even read about them in the Missoulian until today.
So which oval will I fill in? And what the hell is my school district anyways?
Anyways, Helena’s Public School District has a map as well, and it’s equally as bad as Missoula’s:
Oh yeah, did I forget to mention that at the beginning of the article where it might have caught your attention?
Yep, Missoula County Public Schools are going to ask voters for $158 million this year so they can update buildings. Now, I’m not saying those buildings don’t need that money, but when you’ve just asked voters to spend $42 million on parks and who knows how much on the water company lawsuit, then how do you expect to get this through? And let’s not mention the up-to-$50 million the Southgate Mall wants so it can expand.
Parks are popular, but that vote was close, with just 52.8% of people voting for Missoula Parks. This is the same year they want to ask for $86 million for the urban renewal district so they can replant all the trees that are soon going to die.
These are legitimate things to do, but there’s no tax base for this. And please don’t for one second fall into the fallacy that many do, thinking that city, county, state and school districts are separate – they’re not. All of that money comes from one spot, and that’s the pocket of the taxpayer. Most of those taxpayers are involved in the private sector, so at least that’s not tax money that’s being taxed. That’s the case with government workers, because they get paid with tax money. Missoula has a growing problem with a ballooning bureaucracy, and this begets an entitled mood – I need my tax-payer job so I can keep putting those tax dollars into the community. And don’t forget I’m taxed too!
It’s a terrible cycle. You’ll remember that the 1940s were the decade when we went bonkers. Local government employment in Montana rose 2,436% during that decade. We’ve kept those jobs, and we’ve added to them. That means growing costs, especially with healthcare thrown in. So that’s local government, it grows and to grow it has to take that money out of your pocket – that’s just how it works…it can’t exist without you.
That’s the key – local government needs you. That’s what these school elections are about, and we still haven’t looked at the candidates.
Smith is going to vote for the status quo, which is all the money they want to take from your pocket. He also voted to increase former Missoula County Public School Superintendent Alex Apostle’s salary. Apostle recently left the district to go work in Oregon or Washington or somewhere that offers more money, probably for less work.
Looking at Fletcher’s response, I don’t see a whole lot that separates him from Smith. He also supports the current 5-year-plan of the school district, which is something else I know absolutely nothing about. Fletcher has worked at St. Patrick’s Hospital and Fact and Fiction bookstore.
Our final candidate is Decker, and she’s an early childhood education teacher. She also has a 7-year-old son in first grade. She’s the only one that has teaching experience, though when I asked my wife about this – herself an early childhood teacher – she said most teachers get burned out by a certain age. Still, Decker is the youngest person running (44-years-old).
I think it’s pretty easy – she has a better perspective than the other two candidates. I’ll vote for Decker this time.
Still, I don’t think that will solve all of this district’s problems, and those problems revolve around a county that has an inadequate tax base and no idea how to attract quality businesses that employ large-scale.
We’ll talk about that more tomorrow in our next visit to the Missoula City Council. Thanks for reading!