Keppel: Former Batavia School Superintendent Sent 'Condescending' E-Mail Prior to Levy Vote

A Lower the Levy advocate says former School District 101 Superintendent Jack Barshinger insulted tax protesters and the public in an email to School Board members supporting a 13 percent tax levy increase.

Former Batavia School Superintendent Jack Barshinger.
Former Batavia School Superintendent Jack Barshinger.
Lower the Levy organizer Sylvia Keppel says former School District 101 Superintendent Jack Barshinger actively lobbied in favor of a 13 percent tax levy increase and offered two Mark Twain quotes she says were insulting to levy protesters as well as the public in general.

Keppel filed Freedom of Information requests so that she could read comments and determine how many people emailed the board regarding the 13 percent tax levy hike, which passed unanimously in December.

"With the big deal made over the less-than-50 comments regarding the $13 million athletic fields redevelopment ... I wondered what kind of response they had gotten on the levy that didn't merit a mention of numbers," Keppel said in an email to Batavia Patch.

Keppel said she counted 125 comments in favor of lowering the levy, five for keeping the levy at the maximum, and "one very interesting email from former Superintendent Jack Barshinger, who is not a Batavia resident."

"From the board members' speeches, I was expecting a lot of rude, disrespectful comments. ... But after I read all the comments, I was left wondering what they were talking about. If you take the time to read through the emails, you will find that of the 125 for lowering the levy, very, very few would be considered even somewhat rude," Keppel said.

Barshinger's email, which was sent from his former District 101 email address, said that the majority of Batavians "want you to pass the full levy." He offered two Mark Twain quotes, which "demonstrate why boards need to listen to the public, not debate the public."

The quotes are:

  • Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.
  • Never argue with a fool in public, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.

Former Board of Education member Kathy Roberts also emailed the board and spoke in favor of the higher levy.

"These gadflies are not interested in the children of Batavia," she said in the email. "They will never be satisfied until their school taxes are reduced to zero. And even then, they probably would ask for a rebate on past taxes paid. You can talk with these people until you are blue in the face, but their position will not change. It has not changed in the past 22 years. I'm pretty sure it is not going to change going forward."

Keppel is trying to organize a campaign "to elect members to the School Board who have a serious intent to reduce taxes," according her comments on the Lower the Levy website.

"Are the condescending attitudes of the former BOE member and superintendent any indication of the attitudes of current board members and administrators toward the taxpayers of Batavia? I don't know, but the board members' words and actions before the vote certainly did not show any respect for all of the people who wrote and spoke of the hardships they face in paying the large taxes the Batavia School District exacts without mercy," Keppel said.

Barshinger's Email in Full

Kathy and all:

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.

Good luck!

Jack Barshinger
~connect via about.me/barshinger
Sent from bps101.net [1] Board of Education webform

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Bob McQuillan January 08, 2014 at 07:14 PM
So now the residents of the Batavia School District know exactly how their former superintendent felt about them. This as he was amassing a small fortune in salary and benefits from the property taxes they paid. He even states that he has shared his opinion with board members on a regular basis. If you ever wondered what went on in "executive session," now you know. Your superintendent told the board, who he reports to, that the public is stupid and don't respond to them. In a way, I agree that the public is stupid. The public is stupid for: 1. not attending meetings to learn what is really happening. 2. providing excellent health benefits to district employees. 3. providing yearly salary increases not tied to performance. 4. providing the facilities that are over the top. 5. buying into the fairy tale that it is all about the children. 6. believing you must "tax to the max" or you will lose it. School Boards and Administrations, for the most part, don't live in reality. The superintendent in Geneva just received a $4,300 car loan interest free for two years. At the same time he receives $800 per month for "travel" expenses within the Kane County Regional School District area. How does that benefit the children and how did seven board members think a car loan was a justifiable use of taxpayers money? And we are stupid for asking why this happened? Wake up people, you need to realize much of your education dollars aren't being spent on education. I wonder if we can pay our property taxes over a two year period? By the way, why does the ex-superintendent have access to a district e-mail account six months after he retired? Yep, pretty stupid isn't it.
Mike January 08, 2014 at 07:19 PM
This behavior is absolutely unfathomable. http://geneva.patch.com/groups/schools/p/batavia-school-board-spends-13-300-on-food-hotel-at-c19e8d9a835


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