Four days before election day, Edwardsville area veterinarian Mike Firsching issued a statement against Proposition E, a referendum aimed at ultimately balancing District 7’s budget.
Firsching said he is part of a group that is opposed to the measure.
If passed, Proposition E would provide District 7 with $6.9 million in extra funding. Property owners would pay an additional .55 cents per $100 of equalized assessed valuation on their homes.
District 7 is currently waiting for approximately $3 million in payments from the state of Illinois. More than half of that total is owed from the 2015-16 school year.
Firsching’s statement says, "There are those who believe any dollar spent on education is a dollar well spent. They will support any tax going to education, There are those who believe any tax increase is a dollar spent poorly."
Firsching targeted teacher compensation packages in his press release.
"Most of the educational dollars go to compensation which is salaries and benefits. Looking at salaries for full team teachers you will find that the median salary is around $58,000 to $59,000 a year," the statement reads. "Benefits from the district add another 20 percent to compensation (to) bring the subtotal of median compensation directly from the local school district above $70,000. The big category of benefits is the pension plan. Adding this to the subtotal brings median compensation to over $100,000 per year."
Firsching further states, "The idea that teachers are paid poorly is a myth."
Firsching says in researching Prop E, he found full-time teacher salaries at OpenTheBooks.com
and median salaries were determined from that data.
"If you look at the district budget, they have plans to give pay raises if the referendum passes. For most of us, the economy is poor. We do not make as much money as school teachers and administrators. It is asking a lot to sacrifice our households so those who are already doing well can further financially separate themselves from the bulk of taxpayers in the school district."
In the end, he says the decision is up to the voters.
"It is fine for the school board to ask the voters if we want to spend more money on education," he wrote in the statement. "Looking at these numbers, no voter should feel guilty for voting ‘no.’"
District 7 was one of 37 districts in Illinois placed on the state's financial watch list.