School Board again decides to take no stance Amendment 66

The idea of District 51 School Board members taking a stance on Amendment 66 was shot down for a second time in one month at Tuesday night’s school board meeting — the last board meeting before the Nov. 5 election.

School board member Jeff Leany first proposed at the board’s Oct. 1 meeting the idea of a board resolution opposing the ballot measure, which asks voters to allow the state to increase income tax rates in order to raise $950.1 billion in the first year (and similar amounts in following years) for public education. The board did not take a vote at that meeting after board member John Williams said he felt the board should not tackle a political issue and board vice president Leslie Kiesler said Amendment 66 would bring new funding to the district.

“It’s not even near what we need but it’s a start,” she said.

Tuesday night, board member Ann Tisue revisited the issue, asking for a motion for the board to oppose Amendment 66, which Leany seconded. Tisue then presented a resolution she had written herself and asked other board members to consider passing it.

“It’s a $1 billion tax increase. There’s already $1 billion in reserves in the fund in the state and it doesn’t really address the reforms that are needed so why slap our voters with another tax when we’re already struggling?” Tisue asked.

Tisue said other school boards have taken a position on Amendment 66 and all six actively campaigning school board candidates have announced publicly that they oppose Amendment 66, which she said “takes the politics out of it.” Williams disagreed, saying board candidates taking positions is different from a board taking a position.

“You are making it political for this board by bringing up candidates that are running for office,” he told Tisue. “You also talk about the board slapping the voters with additional taxes. It really is the voters who are going to vote this thing up or vote this thing down.”

Board President Greg Mikolai asked Tisue if something had changed since two years ago when she did not take a public position on a mill levy override that would have provided additional funding in District 51.

“This is a different situation,” Tisue said. “I feel it’s a bad bill and I would like to see the board take a position against it.”

Leany said Amendment 66 and its companion, Senate Bill 213, were already politicized due to party-line votes in the legislature and backing from teachers unions.

The resolution failed 2-3, with Leany and Tisue voting for it and Mikolai, Kiesler and Williams opposed.


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