Following the unanimous vote of the Batavia school board to levy the maximum amount of taxes from those residing in the school district, a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request was made for the emails sent to the school board regarding the levy. When the emails were received, there were some surprising results.
The tally of those supporting lowering the levy vs. those who wanted it kept as recommended was extremely lopsided at 125 to 5, plus an email sent by former superintendent Jack Barshinger. As an editorial in the Kane County Chronicle, Jan. 10, 2014, writes:
The specter of a 13 percent tax-levy hike, unanimously passed by the Batavia School District 101 Board in December, inspired numerous pre-vote emails to the board from concerned citizens, including this one from apparent levy supporter and former Batavia school superintendent Dr. Jack Barshinger. Barshinger retired last June.
“If Tech hasn’t shut off my access to this account, I wanted to share two Mark Twain quotes which I often used with the Board of Education that demonstrate why Boards need to listen to the public, not debate the public …
‘Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.’ – Mark Twain
‘Never argue with a fool in public, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.’ – Mark Twain
The majority want you to pass the full levy. A few, that will never let ‘the facts’ get in the way of their argument, will attempt to represent the majority.
“Stupid people?” “Fool[s]?” Would these stupid people, these fools, be the same folks who fund your rather healthy pension, Mr. Barshinger? And, as you yourself say, did you really “often” employ these quotes when referring to us? Really? This is disheartening, to say the least.
Sadly, Barshinger’s aren’t the only unfortunate comments made by someone with former ties to the school board in advance of its decision. Former school board member Kathy Roberts also engaged in name-calling:
“These gadflies are not interested in the children of Batavia. They will never be satisfied until their school taxes are reduced to zero … .”
Granted, these comments were from people no longer working for/with the school district and do not necessarily reflect the views of current board members and administration, however, Dr. Barshinger was revered by many of the current board members, particularly the board president, as evidenced by their farewell speeches in June 2013. And given the unanimous decision on the levy, where not even one board member took into consideration the many citizens who pleaded for mercy in the levy process, not even to suggest a compromise, one might be led to believe that Dr. Barshinger’s comments were well-received by the current board.