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Take the far-sighted view

When someone is said to be nearsighted, it means they can see things well up close -- like a book -- but objects farther in the distance are blurry. Conversely, if one is far-sighted, they can see things a ways away with clarity, but that thing right in front of their nose is out of focus.

For the sake of the Greenwood School District, we’re hoping this week that residents there will be of the far-sighted ilk, those who can look beyond a less-than-clear near situation while maintaining acuity on that which is in the distance. As the district takes another revenue cap exemption referendum to voters on April 7, there is a risk that the fog created by the coronavirus pandemic will obscure voters’ long-range vision.

No one in the district who makes the decisions -- be it administrators, Board of Education members, whomever -- is happy to have to take a new referendum to voters every 4-5 years. It would be far easier for them to either receive enough revenue from the state to fund a good education or have the authority to levy local taxes in a sufficient amount, but state legislators in their “wisdom” have taken that power away. Thus, when districts like Greenwood and Loyal and Spencer and Granton and Owen-Withee and Neillsville and on and on see that their expected revenues will not meet expenses, they must go to a public referendum for permission to raise taxes. Here we are again.

Greenwood had the unfortunate timing to have scheduled its next referendum during a pandemic, when “Safer at Home” orders and lay-offs and social distancing are in order. While that will have the impact of low voter turnout (whether that favors a “yes” or “no” result is anyone’s guess), it is also creating an economic scare that will likely sway some taxpayers toward rejecting this question. That’s understandable, but, we suggest, near-sighted.

This pandemic will be history in time, and once it is, school will resume and life will carry on as usual. “As usual” unfortunately means with too few dollars for schools like Greenwood to carry on without greater taxpayer support, but so it is. It’s important to keep in mind the old adage that “This too shall pass” and to realize that the current situation is an aberration, not the norm. The far-sighted view is that the needs will be there when this dark cloud has long blown past.

Remember, too, that the Greenwood tax rate is expected to go down even with passage of this $4.65 million request for five years. True, it would go down much more without passage of this question, but so will the quality of education the district can give its kids. The far-sighted answer is to vote yes.