Isn’t it ironic that right before the holiday season factories close or lay-off groups of workers? The husband of a colleague from Merrill lost his job this week when the Wausau Paper Company’s Browkaw Mill, where he worked for the past 28 years, closed. Today in Wausau, the newspaper announced the closing of another company that manufactures doors and windows—556 more jobs lost. Here in our own area the Trane Company has announced reductions. The field of education tends to be a more stable career. In good times and in bad times, through ups and downs, children need schooling. But the quality of any school system depends on community support. Our community has always done this, partly because the people who live here value education and understand that cuts can lead to declined quality or opportunity. But another reason our school system is valued is because it has been a drawing card for people with children who are moving into the area and we need new people to constantly replenish our population.
Today, I received my property tax statement. These statements are difficult to decipher. A pink enclosure entitled Notice to 2011 Taxpayers in the envelop helps to explain the tax information. Our school district tax rate went up by a small amount due to the successful referendum in February. Without that success there would have been a decline. If you have any questions about your property tax statement, feel free to call the district office at 781-9700 and we will try to help.
Is the property tax statement good news or bad news? Is it a benefit for our property owners to have quality community services including a good school system? To people on fixed incomes or those under-employed who are struggling, any increase adds to that burden. On the flip side, it is important to acknowledge that fire and police protection, good roads, well-lit streets and successful schools make Onalaska a great and safe place to live and raise a family. In upcoming blogs I am going to talk a little more about something called educating lean—maintaining or improving the quality of our schools while holding the line on or reducing costs. If we are truly all in this together, these changes will be understood and embraced by staff and parents. They will also make a positive difference in student achievement and in our pocketbooks. Fran Finco