An Open Letter to Dr. James Sebert and the Fond du Lac School District School Board
Dear Dr. Sebert, Elizabeth Hayes, Julie Nett, Eric Everson, Kathleen Nagel, Dr. Susan Jones, Mark Jurgella, and Mark Strand.
I would like to address the ad placed by you in the Sunday, May 12th Action Advertiser. I attended your May 13th board meeting but was not given an opportunity to speak because of the restrictions placed upon how many people are allowed to address you on a given subject.
I pastor Trinity Baptist Church. When I moved to Fond du Lac over 22 years ago TBC already had a school. During these years we have averaged about 40 students. I have always felt we have had a good working relationship with the Fond du Lac School District based upon mutual respect. We have received timely communications concerning federal Title opportunities, communiques from the Recreation Department, and information to share with our students about summer school. For many years we regularly rented gym facilities from the district. And most importantly, we have often exchanged transcripts as students have moved back and forth between Trinity Baptist School and the Fond du Lac School District. In all these exchanges I believe staff members of both institutions have understood that this is about the families and students we serve.
Students move between the Fond du Lac School District and Trinity Baptist School for a variety of reasons. Sometimes students leave TBS because their families want them to participate in one of the many programs offered at the District schools that TBS cannot offer: a variety of sports, band, broader educational opportunities, a larger number of classmates, etc. Sometimes students have come to TBS from the District for educational purposes. Some students – especially ones who have been in special education classes – thrive in a smaller setting where there is less “noise.” And of course some students have moved back and forth between us for philosophical and religious reasons. These moves and the reasons behind them will continue. This is not a bad thing. No one school or school system is right for everyone.
The student transfers that sadden me are the ones that are based upon finances. The tuition TBS charges is about 1/4th what the district receives per child. When families cannot make the tuition payments, TBS has done its best through fundraising and gifts from generous people to help families keep their students at TBS. But almost every year, parents are forced to choose to remove their students from TBS or not enroll them at TBS because of money.
It is destructive to families and students that in a culture where parents have the right to choose where to buy their groceries, where to live, what car to drive, and where to direct their tax dollars to attend college, they cannot choose to direct their tax dollars to educate their primary and secondary aged students. It is time to end the institutional monopoly on educating children.
TBS has saved the tax payers of Fond du Lac and Wisconsin many millions of dollars by educating hundreds of students over these years. We will continue to do so regardless of what happens with the current state budget.
I am hurt and deeply bothered that the elected representatives of these same tax payers have used tax payer money to slander Trinity Baptist School in a public forum. This was wrong. As we move forward I hope you will determine to respect all the families and institutions in Fond du Lac.
In the service of God and Fond du Lac,
Pastor Dan Leeds