Guest Column: District 205 and their Referendum Committee afraid to debate R.E.A.CH.!

Guest Column: District 205 and their Referendum Committee afraid to debate R.E.A.CH.!

By Barb Dent

R.E.A.CH. invited members of the District 205 Referendum Committee to debate the merits of the District 205 Referendum on Monday, Oct. 21st. The committee REFUSED, stating that it had decided “early on” not to participate in ANY debates. R.E.A.CH. then asked District 205 to send representatives to debate Ted Biondo and me. They, too, refused, stating they were going to hold one-sided forums, which means that the public would have to be inconvenienced if they wanted to hear both positions. It also meant that if any member of the committee, school board majority or administration continued to misrepresent the referendum, they would not be corrected.

Q: Why did the five board members, Michael Bliss, Bob Evans, Nancy Kalchbrenner, Jay Nellis and Mike Williams, and administration REFUSE to debate an issue that they placed on the ballot?

A: Because they are afraid to debate Ted and me. They know we have the “truthful” facts about the referendum, and R.E.A.CH. IS NOT AFRAID TO DEBATE ANYONE!

Since R.E.A.CH. was formed in November 1994, our leaders have always been willing to take positions and have backed them up with facts. We have never REFUSED to debate any issue that R.E.A.CH. has voted on because we’ve always taken the time to do our homework and find out the “truthful” information. We’ve never REFUSED to debate anyone! I must salute Mary Hitchcock, who was the first leader of R.E.A.CH. because she set a great example to stand up for your beliefs. The backbone of R.E.A.CH. has been to make tough decisions and then to discuss them out in public. Whether you agree with our positions or not, we have always been forthright with the community, and most of our decisions and predictions have been correct. Unfortunately, for the children and taxpayers of District 205, we have a board majority, an administration and a referendum committee that lacks the courage to debate their issue because they know R.E.A.CH. has done its homework. District 205 is NOT UNDERFUNDED, IT SIMPLY OVERSPENDS!

I did contact Mayor Doug Scott, who told Ted Biondo on WNTA’s (1330 AM) Doug McDuff Show that he wouldn’t debate Ted because the District would. Well, when informed that the District wouldn’t debate us, he was unavailable. Ted and I would love to debate Mayor Scott. He says the referendum is NOT a tax increase. He is wrong. The District would NOT have to come before the voters if it wasn’t an increase. Just wait until you see your tax bill this May! Even without this referendum, the school district is RAISING your taxes. Your taxes will go higher if this referendum passes, which could result in our home values dropping AGAIN!

Mayor Scott also compared this board to the board in 1995. That’s a good comparison because that board, led by Linda Griffin, almost doubled their deficit in one year as the current board, led by Mike Williams, has done ($26 million deficit to $48 million deficit)!

Our mayor states that the District has a low tax rate! He is wrong AGAIN! The District’s education rate is the 2nd highest in the area at $3.70. The average rate is $3.12. Despite having one of the highest education rates, District 205 has 23 schools on the State Academic Watch List for Poor Performance.

With all of the “alleged” support for this referendum, it’s amazing no one would debate us on Oct. 21st. It’s simple, really. The proponents of the District 205 referendum can’t win the debates. They lack the “truthful” facts. For more information on why you should vote “NO” on District 205’s referendum, visit our website at Our website also includes our education, equity and facility plans and the history of R.E.A.CH. Send a message, RAISE ACHIEVEMENT, NOT TAXES on November 5th!

Barb Dent is the president of R.E.A.CH. (Rockford Educating All Children).

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