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How money is spent points to priorities

As the threat of a teachers strike looms for Dixon Public Schools, I feel compelled to respond to the impending crisis facing the students and families.

There are two sides: the board (including the administration) and the teachers union. There’s money designated for the purpose of educating every child, sports are not mandated, but free and appropriate public education is. Educating the children of this community is our No. 1 priority, correct? We can all agree, right?

The real issue of this disagreement is money. The disagreement is how the money will be spent. Money is very tight. There are differing opinions as to how much money there really is and in what funds the money exists. How will the money be spent educating the students of DPS? How we spend our district’s money speaks our district’s priorities.

The board prioritizes spending money on 4.78 percent raises for district administrators (including a 4-year, 6 percent raise each year for the superintendent), buying land (after ignoring the Marshalls’ land donation), and building a sports complex as well as a new K-12 campus.

The teachers union prioritizes spending money teaching their students. The reduction of 25 staff significantly increased class sizes. They prioritize having adequate and appropriate teaching tools, up-to-date technology, and adequate supervision for students’ safety. The teachers union prioritizes being insured, so they’re healthy to teach, and fair compensation for their efforts, previously agreeing to a soft-salary freeze.

I believe we need to question our board’s priorities. I have serious concern for all of the students of our community, as certified educators are expected to do considerably more with considerably less staff, assistance, materials and support.

So I ask you, Dixon community: What are your priorities? Highly paid administrators and a sports complex, or our students’ education? How we spend our money speaks our priorities.

Note to readers – Cheri Stewart recently retired from teaching as a speech/language pathologist for Lee County Special Education Association in Dixon Public Schools.

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