Sunday, February 17, 2008

Please Take the Survey


If you have a few minutes, please complete the survey questionaire I've posted regarding the upcoming levy vote.

After you've completed the questionaire, feel free to come back here and post any comments you might have.

The survey will be open through Sunday Feb 24, and I'll publish the results the evening of Tuesday Feb 26.

Thanks for your help.


  1. Paul, I have seen your posts and I must say I am terribly disappointed in your point of view. Let us examine why you are really upset. How much is your house and property worth? How much money did you make a year before you retired? You are upset with the amount of taxes you are paying. Instead of attacking the district that educated your two daughters, attack the state who has declared current funding practices for local schools unconstitutional but yet to do anything about it.

  2. I don't think you've taken the time to truly understand my point of view.

    For instance, I have never said that I think teachers are overcompensated. In fact, during my campaign for a seat on the School Board, I said that it wouldn't bother me if the best teachers were paid six figures. But I'm not going to agree to that kind of compensation for the best until both the HEA and the Administration show willingness to get the deadbeats off the payroll. You can't say there aren't any - all of us were once students and know each and every school building has some number of teachers who should be doing something else. Not only do those teachers eat up precious tax dollars, they fail to educate our kids. That's one point, but it's not even my primary point.

    My primary point is - and has been from the first posting over two years ago - that the economic viability of our school district has been threatened by unmanaged residential growth, and that our School Board needs to quit acting like victims (and sometimes even like accomplices) and start educating the public about the situation so the public will in turn hold these other elected officials (mayors, city councils, etc) accountable.

    The amount of taxes I'm paying is irrelevant. I can afford it. What I'm annoyed about is that the school board acts like there's no other choice. THERE IS!! We can fight the construction of new houses in the school district. We can demand our legislators give us Impact Fees as a funding tool.

    I wonder if you really understand the constitutionality issue. Do you think there is any solution that will get proposed that results in Hilliard residents paying less in aggregate taxes (sales, income, property, etc) and getting more funding? The GIRFOF amendment certainly wouldn't make that happen.

    And just for the record, I will be voting in favor of this levy. Not because I want to, not even because I feel the leadership of the district has earned my support.

    But rather because we have to live to fight another day, and blowing up the school district isn't helpful.


  3. To the first poster

    First of all I think you are off base. I happen not to agree with
    everything Paul says, but he has provided a forum and provided some
    valuable information for people who are interested.
    I do not think he is attacking the district at all.

    The real issue is as you say with the legislature, but our community leaders including the board,city
    fathers, adm have supported our current representatives.
    It is the same old, same old, takes tens of thousands to get elected, to any post. Then the entire group mentioned is beholden
    So why is that Pauls fault.?

    And why is it that you are branded immediatly as anti school if you dont join in lock step with the district. Do you believe in an open check book. Apparently so

    Fact: The teachers have enjoyed some generous pay raises, and a great medical plan. The board
    and the admin chose that path.

    Now economically things are a little tougher. So the person who is retired, just lost job due to lay off, cutbacks, outsourcing is a bad non supportive taxpayer.

    The admin, and the employees are making great money. In the last contract many, note not all but a large group were pulling in with step raised 7% + plus the medical
    Sorry that I dont think they are
    poor. I believe that we have many great teachers in the district.
    They do a good job

    So do thousands of taxpayers in this district at their jobs, but they are not getting 3% raises if any at all. They pay heavily into medical costs. Some have none.d

    I think that small raises are in order, note not any at all!
    A gradual medical payment should have been in place at least through the last contract.

    So that is probably why this levy will fail. By the way, how can you give raises out when we are supposedly at the brink anyway

    Why is there no community forum to ask questions, only controlled
    individual house parties by supporters. ?

    Bradley needs to open, but the guilt trip the supporters are pulling on how hard they work
    is just a bit old.

    Eventually the levy will pass but it will take a number of tries

    I am voting yes, but way too many I know are voting NO

  4. Apologizing for my post and rash comments, Paul, I guess I jumped to some conclusions. I guess my frustration comes from people reading and misinterpreting a lot of what you are saying. I am tired of people lumping in what is going on with the teachers into this issue. The bottom line is the teachers want a fair contract that doesn't decrease their pay. As you have said, this is the fault of the board and administration letting it get this far. There are other issues that the Union for some reason hasn't seen fit to release. As for the teachers, this is a matter of respect. It took the board 4 months and several negotiating sessions to offer the teachers the same contract offered to OAPSE. This was a slap in the face to the teachers. As for the levy, this issue is completely separate from the negotiations process. The teachers do want what is best for the students and the community should as well. As I don't agree with the 'open checkbook' philosophy as suggested by the other blogger, I do believe in the idea when it comes to my kids. If it takes me paying more taxes for my children to have the continued excellent education provided by the Hilliard City Schools, then I will help in that endeavor. I personally can't afford more taxes as I work 2 jobs and still live paycheck to paycheck but I still will vote for this issue because I want my children to have every opportunity to succeed. Having said that, I am a very hands on parent who agrees that education must also continue at home. I fear many parents who are willing to vote against this issue are too easy to accept that the only education is that of the schools. They are willing to 'prove a point' to those teachers and are going to end up hurting their children as well as their property values. Why do so many people move to Hilliard? It is for the great community and wonderful schools. Should they be run better? Most definitely. But that is not the teachers' faults. They are in the trenches everyday trying to educate the children. Thanks for letting me rant.

  5. Accepted.

    It is all but impossible to disconnect teacher pay from the levy when 90% of the levy will be used to pay the employees of the district. I've heard one suggestion that contract negotiations and levy votes should never happen at the same time.

    That seems like a good idea. The Board had that option - they could have put a levy on the ballot last year - but they felt it was more important to "stretch the dollars" an extra year. Bad strategy.

    In Ohio, community members have a very close relationship with their school district. A community forms around its schools. It is managed by a Board made up of our friends and neighbors. It is 70% funded by the homeowners and businesses of our community. There is virtually no other kind of government function in our country where the community and organization form this kind of partnership. One of the things I fear from the movement to turn funding decisions over to the State is that we'll lose this powerful bond with the schools. At that point, we might as well make it a statewide school district, in my opinion.

    Like any relationship, this one between the community and our schools has little chance of surviving long term unless there is trust and open communications. Unfortunately here in Hilliard, the communications has been lacking - at least about the fiscal operations of the district. It has been on purpose - there are ample opportunities to communicate. In that silence, distrust and even animosity has developed.

    I've been begging the school board for a couple of years now to start working on this communications issue exactly to avoid the situation in which we find ourselves now. You can't wait until there is a levy on the ballot to have this dialog.

    If the levy fails, I fear it will be the beginning of a serious fracture in the relationship between the community and our school leadership because the Board will be forced to make cutbacks. They'll be more annoying than painful at first. But it will make getting the next levy passed that much harder. If we're not careful, we'll miss the window to get Bradley HS funded for 2009. Imagine how ugly that will be?

    The teachers are getting caught in the crossfire, and frankly the HEA leadership is making it worse with their job actions - because it affects our kids. The HEA sees it as leverage. The parents see it as a threat. Not good.

    If this were a marriage, we'd need counseling. The Board needs to make communications and community education their top priority for the foresable future.


  6. I am a retired resident. I had to significantly tighten my belt to afford the last levy, an increase of $800 for me. Now, 4 years later they are asking for more than $600 increase. Who gets increases like this in their private sector jobs that they can afford this much increase in property tax every few years? It appears to me that we are already paying millage comparable to Dublin and Upper Arlington. Non-teacher staffing increased much faster than student growth since the last levy. I suggest the HSB tighten their belt before they put their hand in my pocket again. Their main focus should be to work with Hilliard and Columbus to control the residential growth rate, lobby the state to fix the funding problem and eliminate the fat from their organization. I think they should also consider shifting the funding towards an income tax method and reduce the property tax component. I have lived in Hilliard for more than 20 years, but I will be unable to afford to live here if this levy passes. Thank you.

  7. Well said. Thanks for your comment.

  8. A couple of comments back, Anon said: The bottom line is the teachers want a fair contract that doesn't decrease their pay.

    I think folks saying this are making an fundamental arithmetic error - comparing percentages assuming that the underlying fractions have the same denominator.

    The School Board has offered a 3% base pay increase (plus step increase, but let's ignore that for now), but has asked that 6% of the insurance premiums be paid by the teacher.

    Let's say the teacher is near the bottom of the pay scale and makes $3,000 per month. A 3% increase would be $90.

    And let's say the insurance premium for that teacher is $1,000 per month (which I think is a high estimate). Then 6% of that would be $60. Assuming the teacher can make the insurance payment with pre-tax dollars (e.g. via a 125 plan or whatever public employees have), then this teacher would net a $30 increase in pay.

    In other words, the way to evaluate this is not to say "6% is greater than 3% so the teachers are taking a pay cut." You have to do the math - which is middle school level stuff by the way.

    I suspect this is what the School Board tried to communicate directly to the HEA members, much to the consternation of the HEA leadership who wants to control the interpretation of the Board's offer to the HEA membership.