A huge THANK YOU for disclosure on new property taxes, we are now paying $200 more a year for our property taxes due to Pam Veltri's insistence on building unnecessary expensive schools.
We have been here five years and after this last disaster, we WILL NOT VOTE for another school levy while we are here, please, please keep your information coming to the citizens of Medical Lake. My sincere gratitude for your making the public aware of what is happening.
It was so nice to get your mailer today concerning the truth about levies. I'm in the Riverside school district. I've home schooled most of my kids and am still wondering why I have to pay an education tax since I had to buy all my materials myself and have used not even a penny of the education taxes I pay. My older brother is a member of the school board here, so I know all the arguments for levies. You are right, we ARE overtaxed! And there is sooooooo much waste of funds in the education system.
I received your big yellow postcard in the mail, and I was so happy to know "someone" was out there attempting to inform voters about these levies! Interestingly, I had just recently had a conversation where I was telling a friend that I wanted to do something to spread the word
about how a school levy raises our taxes and therefore our mortgage.
But I didn't know the first place to begin. Then, a few days later, I received your postcard in the mail. I went to your website, which is very informative, but I couldn't find any contact info, to find out if there is anything else needed to help spread this message and the truth behind these taxes. I am thinking.... do we sit out in front of stores and pass out info and talk to folks? What can we do? I would donate money, but unfortunately, my mortgage increased by OVER $100 per month this past fall, so my budget is quite stressed. I would be better able to donate my time, rather than dollars.
In fact, it was this increase in my mortgage that led me to discover the cause behind the increase. I thought my mortgage company had made some kind of mistake! I had heard there was a limit on how much property taxes could go up in a single year. This was insane. I called, and they informed me that it was my local taxes that caused the increase. I then contacted the local tax assessor’s office. I wanted an itemized account of what exactly had increased my taxes?! It was all explained to me then, how a school levy had been voted in for the Mead school district a year or so before, and was just now going into affect. Oh my gosh... my mortgage just sky rocketed over $100 per month, and there is nothing I can do about it. She told me that the good news is that levies do run out, and then theoretically, I should see that decrease in my mortgage. However, I was also warned that there is usually a huge push to extend that levy, so I shouldn't get my hopes up on seeing that decrease. That was a frustrating thought.
I must admit, until this incident, I was very uninformed about school levies and the effect they have on our monthly house payment. Even if folks are renters, I am sure that landlords will increase the rental
prices, to reflect the increase in their mortgage as well, so this issue applies to both homeowners and the rental community. The scary part is that we make a financial commitment to a relatively fixed amount, and that can be drastically changed by a levy! I have been a homeowner for 25 years, and I have seen small increases and decreases (usually between $10-20 per month) to my mortgage, due to tax "stuff". I never really paid much attention, I guess because it didn't make a huge difference in the budget, and also it seemed to correct itself every year or two. But this got my attention, and I am shocked to see the amount of money they are taking from us to fund these levies. At this rate, we will be priced out of our home. That certainly does not seem fair. The portion of your website that discloses the salaries of school officials is staggering and sheds a lot of light on where this money goes. I believe if people knew more of the facts, they might reconsider casting that vote. But the schools are so good at getting out the message that good parents and good people who care about the children, should certainly support funding for the kids. Hogwash.
Oh... just today, I found a bright yellow door hanger on my front door knob, telling me to vote yes on the levy, and it will not raise my taxes, and may even decrease my taxes, and will "simply maintain the district's current operations funding." I say no... I want that levy to end, and I want my taxes to go back to what they were prior to the levy! What a deception any and all school levies are, if the school district is not satisfied with the dollar amount they originally ask for, and for the time period it takes to apply that money. It is frustrating to have them want to extend the money once it is gone. They got the money they asked for. They used it up.
So... what can I do to help get out this message and information? I would prefer to speak with someone via phone, rather than a continued conversation via email. If possible, please send me a contact phone number where I reach a person in your organization, and count me in!
I am disappointed that I have yet to receive a response regarding my request below as I am aware that you have been responding to emails from others. I am writing to you with a request and I will cut to the chase. You have elected to only post the salaries of a few districts on your website. I have received a few phone calls regarding my salary from constituents who are questioning whether or not my salary is commensurate with those posted.
My salary along with the others is public record and I am not embarrassed to share it. When I was hired in this district four years ago, I signed a contract with an annual salary of $106,000. During years two and three, I did not accept a pay increase as is negotiable in my contract. In this current year (year 4), I along with all administrators in this district, accepted the 3% salary decrease as indicated by the legislature. Said decrease was made to the overall salary and not to the allocation received by the state. In the past, when the state provides a COLA increase (which it has not for many years) it is based on the overall salary; we determined that a decrease ought to be based on that as well. My 2011/12 contract reflects that 3% reduction and is currently $102,467.00. Your website shows the lump sum levy amount for each school district in the region including the Nine Mile Falls School District. Since you have chosen to post the salaries of particular administrators, I ask that you also post my salary. To do otherwise gives the false appearance that my salary must be indicative of those presented.
I do hope that you will respond to this email or if you would rather, please contact me via cell phone. I appreciate your time.
Brian L. Talbott, Superintendent
It appears to me that every time the School District(s) face a "funding cut", they immediately start talking about having to lay off "School Teachers". Finally I decided to see if there was any validity in this claim.
I have written a rather long dissertation on my efforts in this direction, however I will endeavor to hit just the high spots.
I found, much to my surprise, that the repository of School Staffing, and student enrollment data, for every school district in the State of Washington, is the Office o f the Superintendent of Public Instruction, not the State Office of Financial Management as I had expected.
The student enrollment data is in well laid out Excel Spreadsheets, and is great if you want to know the makeup of the school population by race, sex, and grade. Frankly my only concern is that they are public school students.
Unlike the student enrollment data the School Staffing data is maintained in an Access database, with the data being entered from an S -275 report submitted each October. Sometimes the available data is updated and sometimes not. The database looks as if it were designed by a technologically challenged individual. It contains redundant fields, that is the same data may appear in two or more fields within the record, and some individuals have multiple records in the database. And worst of all, from my point of view, even though the S-275 form contains a space for "Duty Title", this data does not appear in any o f the available databases. Instead The S-275 instruction manual (which is updated yearly) shows a complicated coding system, that is apparently designed primarily to identify the source of funds used to pay the position and only incidentally to identify the duties that individual performs. Thus making it doubly hard to identify "classroom teachers", or accurately identify what anyone's individual duties actually are.
The School Staffing databases' are available on this website, SAFS Access Databases and Excel files. This webpage has no direct connection with the OSPI website and cannot be reached from there. The webpage contains the following statement:
The S-275 school personnel data provided is complete with the exception of:
- Social Security numbers, which are exempt from disclosure per RCW 42.56.250(3); and
- A very limited number of personnel records, where personal information of crime victims is protected per Chapter 40.24 RCW.
and the following disclaimer:
- This is a discrete website provided for knowledgeable users with the capability to work with large amounts of data in Access and/or Excel. (Several of these databases are too large for Excel). Each database requires the user to have firm knowledge of the data fields reported and their interrelationships to capably work with the data files. OSPI does not have the resources to, and cannot, provide support for users that do not have this prerequisite knowledge.
Even though this appears to violate the open records law, they will literally not give you any he lp with these databases. If a state agency does not "comply" with the state s public records law, by providing requested data, you have two recourses, since it is a state agency you can get a "non-binding" opinion from the State Attorney General, or you can take the agency to court. If it is a local government agency your only option is to take them to court.
I contacted the Spokane School District, and in the beginning got co-operation, but as time went on their responses got more and more limited, and finally I gave up altogether.
If I had students in the Washington State School System I would be very dissatisfied with the information made available, since I no longer have children that young, I can only offer the suggestion that if you are dissatisfied with the data being provided by the St ate and the school districts, maybe voters should consider trying to get mo re enforcement of the Public Records Law, and more TRANSPARENCY, not confusion from the OSPI and the school districts.