To the Editor:
The Sound Off in a recent Kane County Chronicle illustrates that the extremism that is destroying our democracy is now threatening our local institutions. The reality is that lines in the sand will harm everyone. Pointing fingers at those not responsible for past decisions made will not produce effective, pragmatic solutions.
The taxpayers of Geneva have a legitimate complaint that their taxes are too high. The fact is that for years the school board has levied more taxes than necessary to provide the excellent education that the children of Geneva are getting. At the Sept. 24 school board meeting a budget was adopted that showed $30 million in reserves. That is a result of the board over taxing the taxpayers.
A few years ago Batavia schools were staring at a large deficit and the possibility of losing over 12 percent of the teaching staff (about 50 teachers). Clearly the children were in harm’s way. As a parent, taxpayer and the president of the Batavia Education Association, I was very concerned. I could not help but look toward Geneva and think how nice it would be to have its huge reserves. However, that was not possible because the Batavia School Board, as board President Ron Link has said a number of times, does not ask the taxpayers for more than is needed to educate kids. This philosophy, as it turns out, has proven to serve us very well in Batavia. We have been able to bring all parties together and find solutions that preserve high quality education for the children. I am proud to say that Batavia has a balanced budget this year and the excellent educators of Batavia have not had to take hard freezes. This was achievable because all parties have been reasonable.
Extremism is a zero sum game that demands winners and losers. If we are to preserve our democracy we must show those with extreme positions that we will not play their game. Good solutions do not require losers. With $30 million in reserves surely the taxpayers could get a tax cut, the teachers could get a fair contract, the children could continue to receive an excellent education, and the community of Geneva would continue to be a very desirable place to live and raise a family.
Tony MalayPresident of the Batavia Education Association