EDWARDSVILLE – The county treasurer and the regional school superintendent of Madison Country are battling a war of words.
Superintendent Robert Daiber wrote a letter that was then emailed to district teachers on Sept. 27 stating that Treasurer Kurt Prenzler, who is running for county chairman, may start a petition that “could mean the layoff of their relatives and a reduction in public safety."
In response, Prenzler issued a press release the following day saying Daiber had “crossed a line.”
Prenzler said the issue has more depth than Daiber cares to explain.
School boards issue cash bonds that are to be paid back through school taxes, a typical occurrence in Illinois. Prenzler opposes when school boards issue these cash bonds without voter approval. Currently, if 10 percent of registered voters in the county sign a petition stating they want to vote on whether the school board can issue a bond, then a vote is held. If the petition doesn’t reach the 10 percent threshold, no vote happens on the issue and the school board is allowed to issue the bond.
"It's been my consistent position in Madison County that school boards should not do this,” Prenzler told the Record. “I would love for the law to be changed so that our law would be like Missouri so that counties, county boards, or school boards could not issue bonds that raise taxes without voter approval. ... I'm not against school boards, obviously. But I do believe that all tax increases should be approved by the voters of the ballot box, not just politicians."
Prenzler said that Daiber's letter, clearly cautioning readers not to vote for Prenzler, was a way to frighten voters.
"It was a scare tactic,” he said. “This is a letter to schoolteachers. And first of all, the county government doesn't have anything to do with the public schools, simply."
"Why is the superintendent saying that if I'm elected county chairman, that it could mean the layoff of their relatives and a reduction in public safety?” he said.
Prenzler is not happy that political literature is being disseminated through public system chains that should be neutral.
"From what I understand, it was given to the teachers' union,” he said. “The teachers' union then sent it to teachers on their email or handed it out in the public schools. Now, should they be handing out political literature in the public schools? Probably not. Should they be sending political emails over the email system of the public schools? Probably not. ... It's not anything anyone's going to go to jail for."
The hopeful county chairman said that the big issue is Daiber crossing a line with the circulation of the letter.
"County government really doesn't have anything to do with schools,” he said. “I think that's the major thing.”