Carol Carstensen on “No New Ideas”

Carol Carstensen:

A letter to the editor

Dear Editor: As soon as I saw my words quoted in boldface in the Feb. 21 Capital Times article about the school budget, I knew that someone would make the comments in the following day's Sound Off about the need for new School Board members.

I think new ideas and fresh perspectives are invaluable. However, there are a few qualifications: The ideas must not violate any laws or contractual agreements, they should actually save money, and they must be ones we can implement.

I can come up with a new idea of how to save money on transportation: outfit the buses with pedals for every seat and have the students provide some of the energy needed to move the bus, both reducing use of gasoline and providing kids with exercise. However, the plan is not very feasible, at least in the short term. I can also buy lottery tickets, but that approach is not very reliable.

A few additional facts:

The school district has been under revenue caps, and reducing expenditures, for the last 13 years.

• The city and county were faced with significant problems as they kept their budget increases to around 4 percent.

• The school district's budget increase was 2.5 percent (and the school district's tax levy actually decreased by $2 million).

One final qualification: Claiming the problem doesn't exist isn't a new idea.

Carol Carstensen
Madison School Board

Published: February 24, 2006