Editorial

Don’t diss schools for doing marketing and advertising

A new soccer field to replace the old, soggy one is yet another benefit of approving the $48.5 million bond proposal Aug. 2. Besides building a new swimming pool, new classrooms at the high school, repairs and renovations at every school building are being promised. The current soccer field is so wet at times, it has caused cancellation of scheduled contests and practices.

ACHTUNG: The following is not a “fair and balanced” article. It is an editorial by the editor.

Perhaps the most common criticism of the Wayland Union Schools’ $48.5 million bond proposal in the Aug. 2 election has been the assertion that it won’t raise taxes.

Assistant Supt. for Finance and Operations Patricia Velie made that claim a couple of months ago, and it’s raised more than a few eyebrows. Critics insist that though the yearly tax levy indeed will remain at 8.4 mills annually, the length of time it will be in effect will be extended by more than a few years.

So they object to the claim it won’t increase the tax rate, even though it won’t, it just lengthens the time it will be applied. Therefore, they charge the schools are guilty of only promoting something without acknowledging the downside.

Welcome to the ubiquitous and wonderful world of marketing and advertising. It seems too many people don’t mind not being told the whole truth by a business trying to sell a product, but they object to a public service doing the same thing for a better cause.

We are bombarded every day, every hour, every minute by claims that this or that product or service will do this or that for us personally, yet the side effects or  negative aspects are hidden. After the rejection of the Truth in Advertising law 35 years ago, it has been more than possible for advertising and marketing to make claims that just ain’t necessarily so.

Cigarette advertising got away with plenty for many years, even with rules against misleading the public. And there have been many since who have made questionable and incomplete assertions with virtually no penalty for their sins. Remember Oxycontin?

In recent years, political advertisements have dominated the process of telling half truths and getting away with them. Most recently, Congressman Peter Meijer has flatly stated President Joe Biden did a horrible job withdrawing from Afghanistan while ignoring the foolishness that started that mess.

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Closer to home, virtually all the Republican gubernatorial candidates have promised to outlaw the teaching of Critical Race Theory in our classrooms. CRT is not being taught in local schools at all. It is a collegiate graduate level study in master’s degree programs.

And I doubt any of the candidates even really know or can tell just what Critical Race theory is. They’re chasing a phantom bogeyman at our expense.

There are deliberate omissions and lies, just like what Ms. Velie is being accused of. Granted, I would feel a lot better if she would publicly acknowledge the lengthening of the yearly millage levy, but she is correct in asserting the levy will not increase.

If we somehow can overlook the tactics marketing and advertising use on us every day, we can somehow forgive the local school system’s attempt to avoid the albatross of “raising taxes.”

It is one thing to oppose the school bond because you just don’t want to pay more taxes. It’s entirely another if you consistently fall for phony claims that are eerily similar.

4 Comments

  • We all know that marketing is misleading. We also hope for a higher standard from our unelected public servants. Is it too much to expect that the person we employ to handle this money would be honest at public meetings.

    • Good morning Mr. Tromp –

      Below is a response months ago to Mr. Wilkens who asked the question at that time about the impact of this bond. I like the difficult questions, and am not afraid to answer them honestly and provided the opportunity at 5 public tours of the intended projects. Is the district advertising and marketing this Bond ballot questions for August 2, 2022 – certainly. With the lack of “paper” coverage for our area, the district needs to get the word out using the methods available. When I speak at any public meeting, to which I am thankful to all the townships and City for allowing me the time, I have stated the facts regarding this bond. It is a Zero add to our current 8.4 mills and yes! there is new Debt. 25 years and 10 months added to our current Debt. Please see my earlier response to Mr. Wilkens:

      Hello Mr. Wilkens –

      You are absolutely right – WUS would be borrowing new money for these much needed upgrades = new debt.

      What is happening is that the district’s taxable values have grown significantly (let’s call this equity), two debt issues are being paid off in 2023 and 2024 (creating more equity), add a 25 year payoff for this new debt and you have an equation for a NO mill increase. The 8.4 mills currently charged will not change because of all these elements, but the district will have access to funds to build a much needed new pool and attend to these other spaces that need attention due to the growth and use of the buildings in our district since 1974.

      This situation is similar to a personal homeowner who bought a home here in Wayland 10 years ago for $110k, financed 80% of that or $88k (equity = $22,000), and now realizes the property is selling for an estimated $200k (new equity $130k if their principal on mortgage is now $70k +/-), and now wants to expand or renovate with that new equity limit at today’s still advantageous interest rates. Likely little to no change in their payment amount after financing (like our mills), but access to cash to complete the value adds to the property.

      I appreciate the opportunity to always present the facts and I always appreciate someone thinking deeply enough to consider “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch!”

      Yes, to be clear (to borrow your term:) these upgrades are much needed. I invite everyone to our next building tour March 26, 2022 at 9 a.m. – meet at the main high school entrance.

      Thank you for the opportunity to talk and please ask questions anytime. I am available almost every day at the administrative offices.

  • Mr Young
    If you want me to believe a large percentage of the voters in the Wayland School District can’t use simple math to educate themselves that, yes a longer period of paying the same taxable amount does equal a greater amount paid. Then a majority of that money should be used to have more voting citizens learn mathematics through free adult education classes.
    If those residents want to have a competitive school system that will attract more students and produce more graduates, they have to do it now. The cost for these improvements will not get any less expensive the longer they wait to implement them.
    Every school millage issue always asks this question. How much do you the voter value a quality education for the young people in your school district?
    Sadly those NO votes speak volumes as to how important quality education is viewed in the district.

  • At the beginning of the article you mentioned a benefit of the bond proposal is a new soccer field. Schools should be for education primarily. If students want to play a sport they should finance it themselves. Additional taxes,when going to something useless like sports should be opposed and “dissed” as you so gracefully say.
    And maybe just for today you should stop seething about people not wanting more taxes and celebrate out independence from the tyrannical monarchists.

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