School referendum makes no sense

School referendum makes no sense

By David Dent

School referendum makes no sense

I’m a financial executive and chief financial officer for a Rockford company that has been in existence for nearly 100 years. I have listened to the School District 205 school board describe the decision to proceed with the upcoming referendum as a financial decision. As a financial executive, I find it virtually impossible to see this as a decision that was made in the same way I make sound financial decisions for my company.

It’s time for this board to recognize what the correct financial decision is. It is no different than what the harsh reality has been here in Rockford for the last year. The consensus of the financial executives I deal with indicates that over half of the companies in Rockford are losing money right now. Faced with this situation of declining revenue, we in the real world make the only financial decision that we can: we reduce our expenses to be in line with our lower revenue. Yes, it is difficult, and it costs people their jobs. We hope it is only temporary, but we must do it to survive. As financial executives responsible for the financial well-being of our companies, we have a responsibility to our owners and shareholders to make these financial decisions.

The school district has lost the Tort Fund revenue stream. This is no different than we “real world” companies losing sales. Very simply, the district must reduce expenses and remove the Tort Funded-expenses. The income stream to support these expenses is gone, so the expense must go, too.

Stop using the financial decision excuse as a smokescreen. It is insulting to us financial executives who know better. I would like to believe many others can see through the smokescreen also. Call it what it really is—a political decision. Present it as such, and justify it if you can. Here’s a chance for the school board to gain back some credibility and fulfill some of the campaign rhetoric we heard in the last election. Inform the voters what you are doing, stop the smokescreen, tell the truth and have the intestinal fortitude to do what you must do. Have some guts and make the cuts. Join the rest of us in the real world and gain the respect of the taxpayers and voters. Remember, we’re the shareholders of District 205, and the school board has a responsibility to us, too.

Dave Dent is a member of R.E.A.Ch. and vice president of Finance for a local manufacturing company.

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