Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Wrong Side of the Tracks, Part II

This post is a continuation of an earlier discussion about the potential for cultural imbalance in our school system.

The work of the Redistricting Team is all but completed, and the various options are now being presented to the public for their examination and input. The school district has created a mechanism through its website for community members to voice comments and suggestions, and as of March 12, there have been 271 entries posted.

There is an interesting tone to several of the comments from residents of Heritage Lakes, the upscale golf course community. These folks are saying that they want their opinions heeded because they pay what they believe are some of the highest taxes in Hilliard (I think that distinction may actually go to some of the homeowners in Norwich and Brown township).

  • "It is also a fact that we pay some of the very highest in property/school tax of any other single subdivision in Hilliard. This is just a fact. I would like to think that when we pay well above what other homeowners pay for our children to go to a Hilliard city school that our input is taken seriously. It is our very high school taxes that usually cover not just our children but other children as well. "
  • "Based on the structure of our neighborhood and taxes we pay, we are asking to stay at Alton Darby"
  • "We moved from ... to Heritage Lakes 1 year ago to get my son into a better school. Now with the chances of having him moved into another school, we are faced with the possibility of having to move again. If we get redistriced to Horizon or some of the other low‑income-family schools, we will move out of Hilliard all together. It is completely unfair that we could be redistricted to a school where 80% of the families there only pay $1000 worth of taxes a year because they either live in condos or low income housing. We moved to one of the higher end neighborhoods and pay around $5000 taxes so that we would be in the a better school acedemically (sic), socially and economically. If I am going to pay that much in taxes and get assigned to a poor school, than I might as well pay my taxes to Upper Arlington, Grandview or Dublin and be in a good school for my money."
  • "Please also consider the taxes Heritage Lakes pays, we are asking to stay at Alton Darby."

Other are coming right out and saying that they know certain schools have a larger proportion of minority students, and they don't want their kids to go there:

  • "Currently, it seems that the entire Willowbend apartments are made up on non-english speaking Somolians. The Somolians then make up, what seems like at least half of the classrooms. As I and other parents have experienced, the teachers are forced to spend the majority of their time explaining to the non-english speaking Somolian parents how to do simple things like fill out paperwork. For example, on back to school night, that's all the teachers were able to do. They did not get the time to talk to any other parents. As well, my daughter had informed me that all of her teachers were forced to spend all extra classroom time w/ those students. She therefore received very little help in math (an area she struggled with) and now in 6th grade, we have been forced to pay for an outside tutor. I know that Hilliard has no control of those developments, which are Columbus but Hillard schools. ..so all that I am asking is that the Hilliard City School District bus at least half of those students to other schools. They need to split them up more and make it more fair to not only the Horizon students but the teachers there as well! I know many parents from other Hilliard elementary schools and they do not have this problem. It's just not fair any way you look at it that it be so heavily loaded onto one school. We find it frustrating at times that we pay $5,000 a year in taxes so that our kids could go to a good school but yet, they are not really benefitting from it due to this issue"
  • "There is just absolutely no way that the following options are fair: C, E, F & G. The reason I say that is because you are then sending both of the most heavily weighted section eight apartment complexes together. ..that being Willow Bend Townhomes and Bayside Commons. In no way shape or form will that be fair to the kids and parents who pay $4,000+ yearly taxes. If that happens, both Davidson and Darby will be promiently white and the New HS and Memorial will be extremely heavily loaded with the Somolian population in which most don't speak English. As it is now (my kids have attended school w/ Willow Bend for some time)...teachers are spending 90% of their time with those students!! And then you are going to add yet another Section Eight apartment complex!!?? That will also mean that the new HS will then be where 99% of the crime will be of the three high schools...kind of like Darby vs. Davidson today."

As much as we would like to think of our community as either a homogenous population, or one of harmonious diversity, it is neither. The imagery is less that of a melting pot than it is a bucket of marbles -- together in the same place, but not really blending.

Our community leaders cannot allow this kind of socioeconomic stratification to occur in our schools. We must be willing to transport kids as necessary to keep a similar socioeconomic profile across all of our buildings. The land area of our school district is small enough that the worst-case busing scenarios are still pretty reasonable. In fact, most of the time spent on bus routes is in the winding through developments, not the transit time on major arteries. In our case, we drove our kids to and from Darby High School every day because the drive was about 10 minutes while the bus ride through all the developments was nearly an hour!

The good thing is that this conversation is out in the open now.

To see additional comments made to the school board, click here


  1. Wow, I just stumbled upon this blog and it's really a breath of fresh air. I appreciate the data and facts, both of which tend to be conspicuously asent from materials provided by Hilliad school administrators.

    What can the average citizen do to help?

  2. Joe:

    Thanks for the comment. The answer to your question is simple: get informed, get involved, and pass on what you learn to your neighbors and friends. Corruption and incompetence thrive in the darkness of apathy. Neither our schools nor our community will stay healthy if we let public officials operate without constant scrutiny.

    The folks on the school board and the school administration are decent folks who know how to be great educators and parents. But they don't know much about the business world, and consequently are being taken advantage of by Mayor Schonhardt and his supporters.

    I encourage you to visit my companion website, www.savehilliardschools.org to get a more in-depth analysis of what I believe is going on in Hilliard. Please tell your friends about the website as well.

    I hope we can carry on the dialog. You can reach me at savehilliardschools@msn.com


  3. Wow, I just stumbled here too after searching for someone who knew something about Hilliard after moving here from Dublin. I'm a bit peeved with the final three choices for the elementary schools. I happen to be a middle/low class resident of Cross Creek and One of the maps has our neighborhood split up and bused, and the other groups our already lower income school in with Bayside commons and Country View. Call me a snot, but...Personally, I'm not really that interested in going to school with that community after finding out the pizza drivers won't even deliver there during the daylight. It's not just the uppity rich folks who don't want the schools run down with the section 8 neighborhoods. We are not rich. We hardly clear 40 thou. a year, but we don't want stuck with them either, we already have condo kids who pose a problem for our teachers and staff over here. It will be sad to see Cross Creek get labeled as "the poor school" and people will do it too. I know how people talk, I grew up in Dublin, north of Muirfield. I had to go to school with people like that my whole life. Cross Creek is a great school. Why group a bunch more "poor kids" together? The School Board knows we won't do spit about it because we don't pay Hilliard Proper taxes, so they can go unload on the little guys like us. VERY Dublin-ish if you ask me, and we moved over here to get away from sneaky school boards. I am interested in learning MORE about Hilliard. I'm sure I could be seen as a snob for my feelings, but I'm worried about my kids and my house. This is my husband and I first home and we've seen such wonderful growth in Cross Creek of young families who are cleaning up these houses and trying hard to keep this neighborhood nice. Our school is our pride and joy. I want the most out of my house when i go to sell it. We've put too much work into it for people to say "Who wants to live in that neighborhood, they have all those Bayside kids going over there". Its sad but true, people get nasty. I'm sure people will gasp at what i say, and think the worst of me, but It's just my real feelings.

    I'll check out your other site, maybe I can learn to understand more about Hilliard.


  4. Hello again, I just visited your other site and I appreciate the amount of time and work you have put into that. I just wanted to comment a bit more, this is the exact same thing that happened to us in Dublin. When Scioto was built, it became rich side (Tartan fields and Muirfield) against "poor side" low income housing, (Abbey Church Village, apartments and Riverside Green) Where we happened to live at the time. Yes we lived in housing that accepted section 8, and we went to Dublin schools. We did not use section 8, but a large majority of the neighborhood did. I feel like living there for 5 years, I have feelings and understanding about these types of neighborhoods that other people who couldn't imagine living there would never understand.. Though I grew up north of Muirfield, and went to almost an all upper class school, My world has been anything but rich and famous. I think that gives me a little speaking room...I feel like I know where BOTH side are coming from.
    Back when Dublin decided to bus some Tartan fields kids over to Scioto, people freaked out! (My mother worked for Dublin City schools for more than 15 years and my Father has been a Dublin resident for over 56 years, so we were deeply rooted in Dublin) People said they didn't want their huge mansion homes being devalued by having their schools changed around... guess who won? As far as I know, Tartan fields now gets to go to the NEW Jerome High school.

    Does money and power ALWAYS win?

    Will that happen to Hilliard? I hope not.

    I may have seemed snobbish in my first comment to you about not wanting Bayside over in our school as well... but I do have a nicer side. I do feel like the kids should be spread out. It's not really fair to BOTH sides to make schools seem like "poor school" and "rich school". The Bayside kids and Willowbend deserve a good education too, but not grouped together. The kids we have now just from our Condos here...Crossing just can't handle the other kids.

    When my child went to Daniel Wright elementary in Dublin, she was one of only 6 kids who spoke English in her whole class. She was labeled as gifted (although she is NOT) and was moved around for math, and reading, because the rest of the class had ESL or ELL as i think they call it in Hilliard.
    Why is this fair to the kids who speak English?
    Why is this fair to us, the moderate lowbies who pay for the schools too, to have our kid shuffled around or not getting enough attention because 75% of her classmates didn't understand the work?
    Will that happen in Cross Creek if we are forced to house all these kids?

    I hope some people can try to see it our way... We worked hard just to be able to afford this little house here. Our Cross Creek already struggles to sell homes as it is with all the annoying new homes being built every day (I am also against this urban sprawl Hilliard seems to be getting caught up in). It really makes it hard for nice, older neighborhoods to have a chance. There are PLENTY of nice older homes being overlooked each day for these newer ones.
    Try to see past my snobbish views and see how I've come to Hilliard as a lower class resident, and taken pride in my home and school. I want Hilliard Schools to be better than the "fights" in Dublin.
    I know it all first hand.
    I have come to love Hilliard because people just seemed "nicer" here.
    Is there some way to split these kids up evenly so that they are not bogging down school classrooms with extra help from teachers? Or causing troubles with behaviour problems?
    Why do the kids who don't cause trouble or don't need extra help get left behind?
    I know everyone is now concerned with "where will the lower income immigrants get the best education" but it seems like everyone is always pushing for these kids, and expect us to keep quiet when our middle of the road kids get left behind.
    How can the schools get a comfort level for us all?

    What is the solution? How do kids of such different abilities get the education and attention they need from the teachers?
    I can only pray that the Board choses Map I for the Elementary School. At least that map keeps Crossing as close to what it is now, without splitting up our wonderful neighborhood, busing our friends to JW, or getting our school labeled as The Poor Kid school.
    It's too bad you had nasty comments from people who think they should get more because they pay higher taxes, and you may want to push for the lower income immigrants, but what about us Middle Guys? Do we get a say???
    Does the middle guy ALWAYS lose out?


  5. MJ:

    Thanks for the comments. I'd like to clear up one common misconception reflected in your note: Everyone in the school district pays the same school tax millage, regardless of whether your home is in the City of Hilliard, the City of Columbus, the City of Dublin, or one of the townships. People who live in the City of Columbus pay a lower TOTAL property tax bill than residents of the City of Hilliard, but that's because some of the other components of your tax bill are less. You can see the details of your property taxes by visiting the Franklin County Auditor website. Put in your address, hit the GO button, and then on the next page pick "Tax Distribution" from the list on the left.

    Please tell your friends about my websites. This is important stuff that, for right now, you won't get from any other source.


  6. Hi Paul--thanks for what you are doing here. We are disgruntled with many aspects of the Hilliard school district and plan to move after our oldest three children graduate, when our youngest will be entering 6th grade.

    Of course, my two oldest will graduate from Darby, while their sister, just a year behind, will apparently graduate from Bradley. I realize the need for the third high school, and that some will have to change, but I was hoping for a little compassion concerning keeping junior and senior siblings together.

    Compassion, though, is what I have not found much of.

    I just put up a post on my own blog about yesterday's lockdown situation and the pathetic lack of communication from the school system.

    I'll put up a link to you later today. Right now I have to get my little one ready for the drive to school, since there is no safe walking path there and they took our bus away two years ago. Love this place, Hilliard.