Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Information Session

Sounds like a good opportunity for Q&A with members of the School Board:

At the next Interschool PTO Meeting on February 26th at Ridgewood Elementary, attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions regarding the upcoming operating levy or any other issues.

Please forward any questions you may have for the board to both denise_bobbitt@hboe.org and andy_teater@hboe.org so that they are sure to have all the information they need to answer your questions.

The ISPTO looks forward to seeing everyone on 2-26-08 at 7:00 p.m.


  1. My questions to the board are: What was the most recent raise for administrators and when did this take place? Is it true that the school board pays into administrator's STRS whereas teacher's pay into their STRS? If we are looking at cost, why are we not looking at the cost of the administration?

  2. So, ask it.

    See you on the 26th at Ridgewood?

  3. Who is planning on attending this event? HOPEFULLY, I will be able to attend. I've already sent my question to the Board. 95% chance I will be there to ask it in person.

    Anyone coming?

  4. After hearing all this decided to go to Ridgewood No questions allowed
    on relation to the levy cost versus
    saleries, negotiations etc. Understandable, except when will the electorate get to speak to 90% of the budget.

    Lots of reasons people are not voting for. Redistricting, thought that
    Hilliard should just have their own

    Some talk to state funding. Mr Teater took a shot at the governor
    which is interesting because the folks he supported for St Rep and
    State Sen could not deliver for the district.

    Some talk about ACT,what are they really doing, was communicated that it was asmall group. Oh well

  5. Anon:

    Thanks for the report.

    Did anyone else go?


  6. I also was one of the few that attended the meeting at Ridgewood last night. There seemed to be very few visitors, but many teachers / administrators (they did a roll call).

    As noted above, they stated up front there was to be no discussion of the teacher salary/benefits due to ongoing negotiation. This is understandable, but yet another reason I am NOT in favor of unions. It appears there will be little public comment allowed prior to the contact being signed. Since this is 90% of the budget, this seems ridiculous. Additionally, they should have stated this up front to those attending the meeting.

    I asked 2 questions. Both were answered primarily by one of the male mebers of the board. He seemed like a nice enough guy. My last question was that if this levy passed, what is the schedule for future levies. They stated they did not know, but that seems in contrast to some of the district literature provided.

    My impressions:

    It was a very board-friendly crowd. Very few direct, hard-hitting questions were asked. Frankly I was disappointed that others were not there, especially given the comments on this blog. We NEED to be at these forums asking the tough questions if things are to change.

    Additionally, I really feel this board is out of touch with a large segment of the community. They described why the levy is needed, lack of business taxes, etc. They seem to think that is enough reason to justify the levy. It was noted in the meeting that if this levy passes, Hilliard will have one of the highest tax rates in the county for schools. Yikes !! If I were looking for a home, I would surely look at Dublin or New Albany if that were the case. To me, their reasons for the tax increase, though logical, are not going to hold much water with many homeowners who are seeing their taxes sky-rocket. They seem to think that these reasons justify the increase and make it pallatible. I think they may be surprised next week how weak their logic is.

    In my opinion, the board and city need to be making huge sweeping changes to attract businesses, control staffing costs, and cut any non-critical expenditures in the system if they have any hope of repairing this mess.

    This meeting and the boards somewhat indifferent attitude to what many in the community think of this have strengthened my resolve to vote this levy down.

    Other than making my comments at meetings like this, I unfortunately have no other way to make my voice heard.

  7. Thanks for the report.

    There are several of us talking about putting together an grass-roots community group to take on the education and communications effort in which the School Board is falling short.

    The purpose would be twofold - get information to the public (the purpose of this blog), and collect feedback and recommendations to be taken back to the Board. In other words, a group that will make sure your voice is heard.

    Interested in being a part?

  8. Anonymous,

    I was also one of the people who attended the InterSchool PTO meeting on Tuesday evening, and I would like to offer some points to consider regarding your synopsis.

    I believe you may have had a misunderstanding about the intent of that meeting. It was a monthly meeting where all the Hilliard PTOs meet for a program, business meeting and an opportunity to talk and share ideas about PTO activities. This was NOT a "forum". The majority of people in attendance were parents who are active in their respective PTOs, not teachers and administrators. The "roll call" you heard was the attendance call for each PTO group. The Superintendent and a Board member are present at every meeting.

    They have always welcomed anyone to attend any ISPTO meeting and it was a good opportunity, in my opinion, for parents to openly communicate with the Board and ask questions they might have, and not just about the operating levy. The questions that I heard that evening were a good variety of topics. The only topic off the table was the contract negotiations.

    And ISPTO members did receive an email stating the Board members would not be discussing the specifics of the teacher negotiations, as those were ongoing and unresolved. ISPTO is an organization made of Parents and Teachers, and I agree with that decision that it would not have been appropriate to have those discussions in that particular setting. (and no, I'm not a teacher!)

    We seemed to have heard two different answers to your question about the schedule for future levies. I didn't hear them say they "did not know", but rather I heard Mr. Teater say that the Board is committing to making this levy last 3 years, but that projecting out to 10 years was difficult to accurately project, given the economy, growth and unknowns of school funding.

    We also seemed to hear some slightly different information regarding the school tax rates in the county. The Treasurer did say that if this levy passes, Hilliard would have one of the highest tax rates in the county. But he also continued to say that that ranking is cyclical. I believe he said that Dublin may possibly have a levy on the ballot in the fall and New Albany may be on the ballot next year, as will other school districts. As soon as other school districts pass levies, they will then rise to the top of the list and we get bumped down. It’s the unfortunate craziness of school funding and good luck trying to move to Dublin or New Albany to escape this situation. It’s a statewide problem.

    It is unfortunate that you feel you have no other way to make your voice heard, but is going to this meeting and writing on this blog the only methods you have tried? Have you tried emailing the Board of Education members, and even asking them to call or meet with you? Have you gone to a Board of Education meeting and filled out a public participation form to speak?

    With all due respect, citing “this meeting” as one of the reasons for voting the levy down or not having any other method of communicating your concerns sounds like an excuse. Communication is a two-way street . . . if you feel strongly that the school district needs to reach out and communicate better, then you as a constituent should also try to actively reach out to them with your questions. The ISPTO meeting did offer an opportunity to ask those “direct hard-hitting” questions, with the exception of the negotiations piece, if people wanted to ask them. Maybe you should have asked those questions yourself?

  9. One point to make regarding differing property tax burdens in various school districts:

    In Ohio's current structure, schools receive funding from three sources - residential property taxes, business property taxes, and the State of Ohio. No two districts have exactly the mixture of these three.

    Dublin has done a very good job over the years of attracting commercial development into their city, and as a result both their city and their school district depends less on residential taxes. Unfortunately, the State penalizes them somewhat for this by providing less State Aid however.

    Upper Arlington and Bexley are cities that don't want commercial development, and their residents are willing to pay substantial taxes to keep it that way. Looking at just their millage rate is misleading because their property values are also very high. I don't have the data to support this, but I suspect that the property tax paid per average home is much higher than ours. They also don't have to worry about growth as they have reached their limits of annexation and are fully developed.

    The folks in New Albany have taken a different approach. Even though New Albany is a bedroom community and has lots of open space like us, they have taken deliberate steps to reduce the amount of developable land (e.g. the recent announcement of a new Metropark being formed there). In this way, they will limit residential growth and the burden that causes.

    Our situation is much more like Southwestern or Pickerington. I spoke to a Pickerington school board member once, and she said they have the double whammy of all kinds of developable space, high demand for new houses (then), and no commercial income to speak of. Southwestern is just like us, only larger.

    Our problem in Hilliard is that we don't seem to have joint city/school planning effort, and the city's only plan seems to be to let houses get built at the maximum possible pace. We're going to get a little breather while the housing market is in a slump, but odds are that when the housing market recovers, rooftops are going to start popping up all over the 50% of the district that is still mostly farmland (most people are surprised to hear that Alton-Darby Rd is the midpoint of the school district).

    So we have some choices: let the mayors continue to allow houses to be built and further distort our funding balance; tell the mayors we don't want houses built any faster than commercial development (ie to keep the funding proportions from getting no worse than it is now); and/or get the General Assy to give school boards the option to enact Impact Fee levies.


  10. To anon, Feb 29.

    Some very good points about the meeting. The question is why is a subject that takes up 90% of the budget Non discussable in the first place. It simply sends the wrong message, and guess what the levy got crushed
    I really do not feel no matter what you bring up that the board and admin is going to listen. They have their own little social group
    and ties. big money developer and ;business interests that have financial interests in the the
    schools building.

    The individual voter might feel that they simply have no representation at all.

    Unforunatly, the only vehicle is saying no at the ballot box, which is not healthy for the district
    Unless the board and admin opens
    up, I fear many educational challenges