Letter to the editor
'Time for school employees to contribute more'
March 16, 2011 - Dear editor,
Our state representatives over the past 10 years, both Republicans and Democrats, have been shamefully negligent in their duties, and now Michigan is facing the reality of empty coffers and no free lunch.
Governor Rick Snyder has promised to stop kicking the can down the road. He has proposed a crisis budget, and I hope that some of the cuts in education funding will eventually be restored.
The articles in March 9's Review provided me with hope that Lake Orion can weather this storm if we work together.
Teacher-bashing seems to be all the rage these days. Many teachers are feeling demoralized, not just from increased workloads and heightened expectations as student achievement standards are raised, but from community members attacking their salaries and benefits.
If we have any hope for a brighter future, the seeds must be planted in our children.
In order to become informed citizens and productive members of society, they need a high-quality education.
So where's our respect for those professionals who play such a key role in that future?
I appreciate that interim superintendent Marion Ginopolis is such a fierce advocate for both the teachers and the students in our district.
There appears to be a bond of mutual trust that perhaps did not exist under the previous administration.
The source of Lake Orion residents' frustration likely stems the "new normal." The middle class is being squeezed in the form of reduced work hours, salary cuts, layoffs, job eliminations, reduced or dropped health care benefits, lower home values, foreclosures, and tapped-out savings.
Meanwhile, declining tax revenues are responsible for cutbacks in public services such as schools, libraries, road repairs, snow removal, parks and recreation.
During the 1990s and into the 2000s, when thriving private enterprises, high home assessments, and excessive consumer spending provided plenty of cash via business, property, income, and sales taxes, we were able to fund our schools at a level that helped propel our Lake Orion district to new heights with innovative programs, curricula, and resources.
But just as the public sector enjoyed gains when the private sector was flourishing, we must face the reality that as the private sector suffers losses, so does-or should-the public, because it is funded by taxpayer dollars.
Governor Snyder emphasizes the concept of "shared sacrifice." With this in mind, I reluctantly submit that it's time for school employees to contribute more toward the cost of their health care benefits.
Private sector employees have seen their health insurance plans erode for years, and today many pay 20 percent of the premium in addition to higher deductibles and co-pays.
Unfortunately, health care costs keep spiraling upward, and until they can be contained, the cost of health insurance will continue to rise to unsustainable levels.
Like it or not, we're all in this recession together. Let's find creative ways to maintain a high quality of education and support our teachers, providing them with the tools they need to help our children succeed and showing them the respect they deserve.
Amy Marcaccio Keyzer