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June 07, 1996 - Image 47

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1996-06-07

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School ii actions

In your opinion,
what is the best way to adequately
fund our public schools?

What issues are most pressing in
your district, and how would you
address those issues?

Is there a place for prayer
in the public schools?

* R. Gilmore did not respond.

Schools should be funded from property tax dollars, not sales tax.
However, since the state has adopted current funding method and
allocations are based on regions, schools should work together
in regional coalitions to deliver high-cost specialty education. This
will spread the costs over several districts and should allow the
tax dollars to go further.

Most important in our school district is to improve the perception
that Southfield schools are not as good as other schools. I will be a
vocal and visible advocate of the Southfield School System. I will
oppose any initiatives that threaten to dilute the quality of education
in Southfield.

Yes, but only if all the represented religions can be accommo-
dated. Religion plays a vital role throughout history. It would be
a shame not to teach students about such an influential part of

Public education should be funded by public dollars and public
dollars should only be spent on public education. On the state lev-
el, we need to be pro-active in order to establish funding based
on a stable source; relying on sales tax and lottery sales is too
risky. We also need to exert pressure so that education is one of
the highest expenditure priorities. On the local level, we need to
ensure that our property tax/millage income is wisely spent and
that consumer confidence is justified. Only 17% of our residents
have students in our system but 100% are asked to underwrite
the costs.

Continued emphasis on excellence: Establishing high expectations and
standards as the norm. Concrete involvement of parents in the learn-
ing process: Requiring a district initiative to focus on parent partner-
ships and involvement by which each building must plan and document
their efforts. The high schools' restructuring efforts: Requiring that the
Design Team's recommendations reflect the best educational prac-
tices based on current research, the demands of 21st century soci-
ety and workplace, the social and emotional needs of students, and
still be fiscally responsible. Prudent management of our financial re-
sources: By examining old spending patterns and carefully planning
for the future, demand the most value for each dollar. This includes
the establishment of strong partnerships with corporations, businesses
and higher learning institutions, seeking not only financial support but
also of personnel and resources. We need to maintain and even in-
crease our efforts to obtain funding through competitive and compli-
ance grants.

Someone once remarked that as long as there are students tak-
ing math tests there will be prayer in public schools. I strongly be-
lieve that prayer in the public setting is to be strictly between one's
self and one's God - without any exterior or official attempt to or-
ganize, moderate or schedule, without any attempt to manipulate
or supply words or set aside times.

Funding of public education does not and should not lend itself
to simple formulas. A portion of any funding plan should be based
on the needs of the individual student. For example, students who
are in need of remedial education due to language issues, etc., need
supplemental funding. In addition, we should appreciate the de-
sire of our local community to provide supplemental funding to in-
crease services. Proposal A has only hurt school systems like
Southfield and provided no real tax relief, only a tax shift. Unfor-
tunately, options for funding are limited by statute and we must
now concentrate on limiting our costs. Proposal A eliminates lo-
cal control of revenue, with the exception of a small portion of our

There are two issues which I believe tie as the most important issues
facing our district, finances and human relationships. As to finances,
we must determine where we get the biggest "bang for the buck."
We need to strengthen and maintain the successful programs, while
improving or eliminating the programs which are not effective. We
should set standards before programs are added, by which we will
evaluate its success or failure. From a human point of view, we must
develop new ways in which the people of our system (parents, staff,
administrators, the board, and the community at large) relate to one
another. We need to be hard-headed about the business of educat-
ing, but remain warm-hearted educators. We should always demon-
strate our appreciation for good work, and remember that "it takes
an entire village to raise a child."

No one should be denied the opportunity to follow their own reli-
gious beliefs. This may mean the opportunity to pray during the
school day. Equally important, however, is that no one should feel
any pressure to follow any religion. This is the basic principle be-
hind the separation of church and state in our Constitution. For
this reason, no school organized prayer can be allowed as part
of the school day.

We need a strong visible presence at the state level in order to
help stabilize school funding. Our ability to compete in a chang-
ing global economy is dependent on having an educated popu-
lous, thus parents and business community must become involved
as stake holders in education. The more stake holders we have,
the stronger our educational system will become. Together we
can develop alternate funding solutions through grant writing, etc.

The most pressing issues in our district are funding, restructuring
of the high schools and charter schools. I feel that there should be
more choice within public education to provide for the diverse pop-
ulation we serve. Public funds should not be spent on private edu-
cation, especially profit making enterprises in the private sector. This
could have a negative effect, because some people assume erro-
neously that "charter schools mean better schools." Funding for the
Southfield School District can be stabilized by becoming more vis-
ible at the state level.

Religious ritual and public education should be kept separate, thus
prayer should never be prescribed or a part of the curriculum in
public schools. In addition, we must be sure that public monies
are not spent on fostering one religion or another. Since the foun-
dation for religion and prayer are fostered in the home, church and
synagogues, the need for prayer can best be satisfied in these

The passage of Proposal A in March 1994 completely restruc-
tured school finance in Michigan. Southfield Public Schools' abil-
ity to raise revenue locally is now capped and state revenue is
limited. I believe that the funding through the state is fair and equal
for all students in the state of Michigan; however, it is not just for
the taxpayer. Reform is necessary. I do not believe that sales tax
and state lottery funds can cover the full amount needed for the
education of our youth.

We are going to need the courage to develop programs through dif-
ferent funding sources. The citizens of Southfield have high expec-
tations. The millage indicated that they expect a "bang for their buck"
and they expect those dollars to be managed well. We need to be
creative in coming up with more dollars to fund programs and the
cuts that will have to be made should be as far away from the class-
room as possible. Also, to increase the enrollment of students in our
community who are now attending private school. The perception
that public education is not as good as private is a myth. Public
schools give diversity and provide a total education for the child. It
prepares them for life in the real world and we need to encourage
the citizens of Southfield to utilize the schools since it is their tax dol-
lars that are paying for it.

I believe the philosophy of all religions should be taught; howev-
er, I believe that our society is so diverse that it would be unlike-
ly we would be able to satisfy all religions within a public institution.







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