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Schools, Surveys, Your Money, and Your Privacy

This article contains opinions and/or editorial content.

A few weeks ago, you probably received a mailing from the Lodi School District asking for your input–and your dollars.

The Numbers

After receiving the survey, I reached out to District Administrator Vince Breunig and asked:

Can you please provide me with a full copy of the current LSD budget and the proposed LSD budget?

Included in that, I would like copies of any loans or other financial obligations the LSD has taken on in the past 5 years.

Breunig referred me to Brent Richter, who provided the following documents:

Stadium Loan 2022 Budget 2022 Budget Forecast 2017 Bond B 2017 Bond A

I present them as-is for you to review.

Opinions

Roofs

The shingles on my simple residential house are guaranteed for 30 years. Why are we in need of a new roof for the High School?

Loans

When the request went out for the new stadium, the message said “this won’t be paid for by your tax dollars”.

The School District took out a half-million-dollar loan to make up the difference between the cost and the donations they received.  This is a $579,000 debt to the school district–which is being paid for by tax dollars. This debt was taken on without a vote (or even informed consent) from the tax payers.

The other thing that hasn’t been made clear is that the resurfacing of the HS Stadium has a life-span of 10 years–which means we’ll have to pay for a replacement before the current loan is paid off.

It Ain’t Anonymous

The survey that was sent to you has your address on it.  That means the School District knows who you are and what you said.

There are so many things wrong with this.  The very least of which is that sending to specific addresses cost more than using the US Postal Service EDDM option.  EDDM is about 20¢ per mailing, while bulk-rate with an actual address is about 40¢ per mailing.  This is wrong from a purely financial perspective.   However…

In a community our size, if I know your address, I know who you are.

If they know your address, the Lodi School District absolutely knows who you are–who your children are, what your family income is (via “free and reduced lunch”), the medical information of your children (if they’re in sports, and probably from general interaction), your family status (single, married, divorced), and a whole lot more.

If you returned this survey to the Lodi School District (without obscuring your address), then  they know exactly who you are, all your personal and financial details, and exactly what your opinion is.

Do you trust them with that?

2 Comments

  1. tescher tescher November 13, 2021

    Thanks Blaze – it would be good to get some District comment on these items.

    Regarding the roof – I think flat roofs that are rubber require “re-painting” every 10 years or so. Maybe this was the “new roof” referred to? Asphalt shingles don’t work on a flat roof. I suppose the high school could have been built with a gable roof, but I doubt that would have been cheaper in the long run. So, can’t really compare your house to the school – need more info.

    Regarding the stadium – it could be argued I suppose that the cost covered by the fundraising was over and above that required to just make the field functional again, so the $500K would have been needed regardless. Again, need more info.

    Regarding the mailing – good points on the postage costs. I’m not too worried about what data the school has, it’s always been that way. Frankly the cameras at the four-corners controlled by an unaccountable quasi-governmental organization bother me more than what the school district has.

    • Blaze Miskulin Blaze Miskulin Post author | November 14, 2021

      There may be very reasonable answers to the questions I’ve asked–I actually hope that there are. My issue isn’t that “there is no answer for these things”, it’s that the school district hasn’t been actively open about this things.

      The stadium, for instance. I don’t object to tax dollars being used. I object to being told “no tax dollars will be used” and then the district, in effect, hiding the fact that they’re using tax dollars to pay for it. The District took on a tax-funded debt of $579k without asking our permission.

      If the district had said “We need to upgrade the stadium, it will cost $X. We’re asking the community to contribute so it doesn’t all fall on property taxes”, I wouldn’t have an issue.

      The issue with the surveys is actually something that was brought to my attention by members of the community. School District politics are… significant and diversive. We have to remember that “the School District” is actually “a lot of people with personal and political agendas”. Given the current hyper-partisan state of politics, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect the LSD to take every reasonable precaution to separate survey responses from specific people–especially considering the influence they have over our children, and the power they have with regards to those children.

      I’d prefer that proper and reasonable safeguards be in place to make sure that there’s no temptation for misuse.

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