Letter writer failed to do his research

Published 9:03 am Thursday, October 23, 2008

Paul Overgaard’s letter to the editor published on Oct. 21 is misleading and full of false statements and innuendoes. There is no reason for a smear campaign during the last two weeks of the election. We need to stick to the facts.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty and the state Legislature granted additional local control to public school districts to generate local funding for Other Post Employment Benefits negotiated at the local level between school employees and the locally elected school board. Local school districts negotiate severance packages at the local level. This legislation does not change this process. This legislation does not provide any additional benefit to teachers or administrators. This legislation only provides locally elected school boards an option to use general fund revenue or to generate additional revenue at the local level.

Local control is defined as providing locally elected officials the power to raise local levies by a vote of the elected board, without a direct vote of the public.

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School districts already have the local authority to levy multiple additional property taxes without a direct vote of the people for the following items:

Safe school levy

Quality compensation levy

Health and safety levy

Lease purchase levy

Reemployment levy

Other Post Employment Benefits

One can be for local control or one can be against local control. Personally, I favor giving locally elected officials more authority to make local decisions.

On a personal level, I have worked for 44 years and have paid Social Security taxes each of these years. I have worked 23 years in the private sector and 21 years in the public sector. As a professional educator, I pay 7.65 percent of my income in Social Security taxes and I pay 5.5 percent of my income for my teacher’s retirement annuity. Grand Meadow has never negotiated severance pay for teachers or administrators, therefore, I will not personally benefit by this new legislation signed by Gov. Pawlenty to give school boards the authority to levy for unfunded severance packages negotiated at the local level.

Mr. Overgaard is encouraged to learn the facts before he makes an outrageous charge against teachers and administrators. This legislation was promoted by the school board association mainly because public schools have been inadequately funded for the past six years. A 2 percent increase in state funding does not even come close to covering the increased cost of health care, diesel fuel, text books or supplies. This is the time for the public and public school officials to work together to provide quality education for our children. This is not the time for cheap political shots.

Joseph E. Brown Sr.


Grand Meadow

School District