Submitted by Jeff Church, Washoe County School District Trustee-Elect
The election is over, ‘kinda,’ and as your newly-elected Washoe School District Trustee for District A, I want to say thank you and discuss the road ahead.
My goal is to improve the quality of education in Washoe County while being fiscally responsible. I’ll make every effort to be a team player. I intend to keep my website, WatchDogJeff.com, to communicate with you.
Please take a minute to understand some pressing local issues. Your taxes ARE going up, period, no public vote, no open meeting, guaranteed.
I hope to earn the trust that the voters placed in me, and I will do whatever it takes to improve the quality of education and represent the needs of the taxpayer. Local governments, and especially the school board, face a fiscal tsunami.
I look forward to the transition from “critic” to team member and pledge to do so as much as possible. I do congratulate WCSD on an improvement in test scores such as the ACT and passing the WC-1 audit with flying colors.
That said, the improvement in test scores (ACT averages about 18-18.2) still leaves us last in the nation. Other reliable studies put us at 45th in the nation overall for education. Also, those reports don’t address the outrageous cost of schools, i.e., nearly $253 million for a WCSD high school! Even California does it cheaper: “Central Unified School District is… breaking ground on its new high school, slated to open in fall 2021. Construction is expected to … cost about $130 million.”
WCSD’s own reports list our per pupil costs at $11,833, far above average statewide per pupil spending. So, when “they” say we are last in per pupil spending, they are wrong. When they say schools are overcrowded and we need more, they are wrong. That same report from June 2020 shows that our capacity is 82 to 84%. That doesn’t count new schools in progress not yet opened. Don’t sign any new tax petition. I have an idea.
Nevada political blogger Chuck Muth said, “Another conservative boat rocker, Jeff Church, won a seat on the Washoe County school board. That’s gonna make things a lot more interesting in the months ahead.”
Rocking the boat does no good, but turning it around does. As one of seven trustees and the most fiscally conservative, I pledge to play well with others, negotiate, compromise and try to get ‘er done!
This is important, the taxes are coming, and it indirectly affects the schools (everyone wants a piece of the pie) and directly affects you, the taxpayer. How many cars do you own? Buy gas? Have kids in our schools?
Amazing timing. Now that they are safely re-elected, Reno wants to raise your taxes with no public vote and use the funds for the homeless.
Reno City Council, November 12:
D.3 Staff Report: Resolution requesting the Washoe County Board of County Commissioners to enact the supplemental governmental services tax for the purpose of supporting human services needs and requesting the City Manager to schedule a joint meeting between the Reno City Council and the Washoe County Board of County Commissioners to discuss related matters.
What’s this? The tax would be up to 1 cent per every $1 of valuation on your vehicle. Your annual – that means every year folks – car registration tax could go up, maybe $50 to $200 per car, or more, for homeless programs. How’s that working for California? Once that’s raised, it’s gone. That’s money taken away from education.
Resigned to the fact they are going to do it, there are legal issues, but I can afford it on the $750 a month the trustee position pays. I have a fair compromise plan, but the City and County need pressure and the plan must sunset and have real goals plus oversight.
Did you know that Washoe County already has the highest sales tax in the state? That’s why so many people go to Carson or Fernley to make large purchases. But we’re not done getting every last cent from you, our ‘RTC 5′ gas tax adds about 26 cents per gallon to the cost of fuel, and Washoe County’s fuel prices are often 40 cents a gallon more than Carson or Fernley. We’re not done, that tax goes up nearly 2 cents more this July!
And new tax increase proposals for the next legislature are already drafted.
Want to go exercise your free speech at city council? We’re locked out, you can gamble at a casino but no attendance or live public comment—by phone or in person—is allowed during the meeting under the guise of COVID-19. The law allows groups of 50 or less, but the council won’t allow it.
(Editor’s note: During the last City Council meeting that included live public comment, on June 19, 2020, multiple commenters made racist rants and bomb threats. Comment is now limited to email and an online public comment form and not read during the meeting.)
But wait there’s more: before the ink is dry on the election, Reno, ignoring input from its own Financial Advisory Board is giving the fire union an incredible raise of about 5% and much of it retro-active. As we face a fiscal meltdown we have fire employees making tens of thousands of dollars a year just in overtime, some earning nearly $60,000 or more in overtime pay and more than $400,000 a year in total compensation and benefits (including regular, overtime and ‘other pay’! Now add 4.5%. We have one fire station closed even on red flag danger days, staffed only for medical response, but they get a pay raise? If you live in Somersett you should care that your station is closed. Remember those wildfires last year? Area homes burned to the ground. Sagebrush is bone dry in this drought. It seems they don’t care. There are options.
We can’t print money. Don’t think a local agency can really go broke. Tell that to our Las Vegas- CCSD Schools. They’re on the state watch list over their poor performance and if things get worse- what happens? The state takes over, the board can be dissolved as an appointed bureaucrat makes all the decisions and it wouldn’t be pretty. It can happen here.
So folks, thanks for your support. I’ll fight for education, for WCSD, for the taxpayer and I’ll work hard to be a team player.
Your future School Trustee (District A) and Watch Dog
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Update: This article has been updated to adjust salary and overtime figures for Reno Fire Department and to clarify the commenting policy at Reno City Council meetings.