Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Much Work to be Done

Issue 26, the 9.5 mill Permanent Operating Levy which would have generated over $20 million in annual operating funds for our schools has been soundly defeated. The margin looks to be substantial - unofficial results suggest about 12,000 Against vs 9,000 For.

District officials have indicated that they'll try again in November 2008, an election that will have perhaps the largest turnout in US history.

Things have to change.

The school leadership needs to understand that this was a vote of 'No Confidence' by the people of this community. The next eight months until November need to be spent regaining that confidence, and the levy campaign committee needs to be cranked up immediately - because it has a lot of work to do.

The communications strategy needs to go directly after the basics of school funding:

  • What are the major components of school funding? Ans: local residential property taxes, local commercial property taxes, the State of Ohio
  • How has that changed in the past decade? Ans: Both the commercial property tax revenue and State funding have been flat, which transfers almost all of the cost of funding growth to the homeowners.
  • Who controls growth? Ans: The municipal governments: City of Hilliard, City of Columbus, City of Dublin.
  • Do people who live in the City of Columbus pay the same school tax as the rest of us? Ans: Yes!
  • Will the proposed Constitutional Amendment fix our funding problems? Opinion: Perhaps, but it will cost Hilliard residents a lot more money, not less.
And there needs to be more information published about how the money gets used:
  • While the student/teacher ratio has remained fairly constant at 20:1 over the past decade, the number of district employees has grown at 1.8x the rate of student growth. Who are all these other people? How are they compensated?
  • How has the large influx of kids still learning English affected the cost of operating our district?
The trust of the community is not going to be gained by saying the same old stuff, but louder. The whole approach to community communications needs to change.
If the school leadership chooses such a strategy, I'm happy to help.


  1. Thanks for your work Paul. I would like to get more involved in school funding issue as I am retired and truly can't afford the increases I see coming if something is not done to rein in spending. My hesitation is in being labeled a "child-hater". Keep us informed of ways to get involved.

    Here is the email I sent to Denise Bobbitt this morning after I read her quote in the Dispatch:

    "Dear Ms Bobbitt,
    I am writing today to comment on the quote from you I read in the Dispatch this morning. You said " I hope the cuts are a wake-up call for the community." To me, this read as a thinly-veiled threat of petty, mean-spirited cuts specifically intended to negatively affect students and frighten parents into voting for a levy in November. The $4 million in cuts should come first from non-teaching related expenses. The Hilliard City Schools is in the business of teaching children. Any and all spending that is not directly related to the teaching, transportation and feeding of children is the place from which cuts need to come. This must include administrative costs. Non-teaching staffing increases have far outpaced the rate of growth of students in the last 4 years, and the budget has fat that can be cut without affecting children. Roll up your sleeves, do the work, and don't punish children to get your way. I see three things that you can do as a Board to help stop spiraling costs in Hilliard City Schools. First, work with the Cities of Hilliard and Columbus, and the Township to rein in residential growth. Second, convince these cities to recruit strong businesses to the area and not give them outrageous tax abatement deals. Third, readjust your thinking about the expense that Hilliard residents can afford. We are not Upper Arlington, Albany, or Bexley, and I believe it is unrealistic to aspire to the spending and ammenities that these wealthy districts can afford.
    I am retired. I do not get 3, 4, 7% increases every year. I know no one in the corporate world that gets these kinds of increases. To come to us every 4 years asking for permanent 20-30% increases is outrageous. It is not the community that needs the wake-up call it is the Hilliard School Board and Administration that needs to look at the real world and adjust its spending. I will be unable to afford to live here any longer with these kinds of increases. I have lived here 20 years. I had hoped to live here for many years to come, but your greed and inability to control your spending will make it impossible for me to stay.
    Lastly, the convincing factor for me in my decision to vote against levy was the people involved with the committee for the levy. The people that came to my house to advocate for the levy had their HEA buttons on their coats. I found it troubling that the people officially advocating for the levy had a personal financial interest in the outcome of the levy. Also, I read that the biggest donors to the campaign are corporations that have an interest in expanding the district infrastructure: construction companies for schools etc. Although it was no surprise to me, the blatant conflict of interest for a school district employee to come to my home advocating for the levy was disturbing. In my neighborhood, the people with signs on their lawns were also school district employees.
    I hope you will consider these suggestions. I can promise that if the first cuts the Board makes punish children and are directed toward frightening parents, I will vote against a November levy too. Again, I submit it is the Hilliard School Board that needs the wake-up call. "

  2. Very nice letter!!

    And voting against the levy does not make one a "child-hater". I certainly hope no one has ever made you feel that way.

    I will second you request to make cuts that do not impact the children or quality of education they receive. But I fear, as you do, that the cuts will be those most felt and those most "visible" to the public. Cutting an administrator simply doesn't "hurt" enough. We will see increased class sizes, increase in fees, etc. I hope I'm wrong, but fear I'm not.

    As for school employees campaigning for the levy. I do not think that every school employee that supported the levy (signs in their yard, cold calls, etc) were doing so to "line their pockets". It's possible that these are the folks that have first-hand knowledge of the impact to the district when/if the "hard cuts" come.

    Basically, I don't see the levy passing in November. None of the things that need to be done will happen. The "Glory Days" of Hilliard are over and we are seeing the decline of a great community. It's just the beginning, but the trend is there nonetheless. We are just too big now and the State is no help. Shoot, Reynoldsburg had a chance for new schools with on 50 cents on the dollar responsible by the district (State would have paid the other half), and that levy failed as well.

    The day is upon us where critical levies will no longer pass; Resulting in declining suburban schools (Hilliard and Reynoldsburg to name a few).

    We have BIG problems in Hilliard. With no end in sight.

  3. Strike that... I guess Reynoldsburg's Levy DID pass. But by a VERY small margin considering the "gift" of the state.

  4. A pointed response by the previous poster. I am not sure about some of the comments I read this morning in the Dispatch with comments from our board and Supt

    The community did send a message,not sure anyone really will get it.

    My simply reducing the step raises
    not eliminating, by reducing the
    regular raises a bit, not eliminating, a large chunk of
    the 4m can be realized. Some adm
    positions and some aid positions
    can also be cut

    Busing savings will be minimal, I am sure they will increase fees, again a minimal impact

    I would suggest that the HEA and the board also settle the contract and save some money on compensation over the next 3 yrdd

    2% and 2% step will save some dollars with 6% 8% contribution
    on medical.

    A citizens group would help with
    positive thoughts, not threats, but then the communication must be pointed with positive suggestions.

    Perhaps we have to do the work of the board, treasurer and Supt

    I would also suggest that I believe
    that individuals be recruited to start a campaign for running for the board Now! It will take some money, fundraising, contacting neighbors, etc.

    The message has been sent, lets see how the HEA and board respond.

  5. I can understand everyone's comments that the School Board or the Teachers Union "don't get it" but they HAVE to get it in November. We can't afford to have another levy fail in November. It's OUR job as citizens to make sure "they get it." Not by simply voting down another levy, but working with the School Board to come up with a reasonable levy. Hilliard's "Glory Days" aren't over since I don't think Hilliard had reached them yet. Hilliard school system is awesome and they do a lot with the money we give them through our taxes (although the spending can be controlled), we now have to work together to fix this mess so Hilliard doesn't end up like the Columbus School District. Is there an independent Hilliard school council?

  6. I don't think it will pass in November. We have to sway a lot of people to the FOR side. Of the 57% of people that voted NO, how many of them are "un-reachable"? If we were able to breakdown and categorize the NO votes to better understand their reasoning, I'd bet a significant number will not consider the levy in November (or thereafter) due to income restrictions (seniors, etc), fear of spending creep as a result of passing the levy, or simply because they feel they are sending a message of change (and that somehow cuts and "magic" money will be enough to fund the schools at the current rate). So of those 57% (roughly 14,000 people) we have to convert at least 1700 of them to the FOR side or, hopefully with a large turnout for the presidential election, add enough voters that are FOR the levy to turn the percentages in our favor. For that to happen, we would need 65% or more of the "new" voters to be FOR the levy.

    These are very bad odds. The district will have to make cuts that will likely upset voters. Couple that with voters just not being able to vote yes, and we have ourselves a problem.

    Don't hold your breath on a November celebration party for Levy passage. I think you'll be disappointed.

  7. Not sure what you mean by independent Hilliard school council

  8. Next Board Meeting is Monday March 10 at 7PM. To be help at Washington Elementary.

    Now is the time to get involved. A message was sent. Now, what do we do with it? Sitting silent until we can resume griping during the next election will not solve a thing.

  9. To the previous "anonymous" poster who stressed that the BOE must "get it" before the next election, I agree.

    However, I'm not sure they want to "get it". I don't know whether to laugh or cry when I watch TV and I see these district spokespeople being interviewed with a puzzled look on their faces saying "We just don't know what went wrong". Are they really that ignorant? Nearly everyone I have spoken with has the same thoughts; the district staffing has grown too much (1.8x the rate to maintain the 20-to-1 ratio) and the benefits, raises, etc. are too generous. I don't consider it "doing a lot with our money" to see the 1.8 ratio described above, along with no payments for health care, etc. I consider that taxpayer abuse. Reaching into my pocket to fund the overpaid, bloated union hierarchy is something I just can't support.

    I keep hearing "this will only punish the kids". Well, I only have one option to voice my opinion, the levy. And it mixes all of this fat in with the worthwhile endevours (like opening Bradley, which BTW required about only 1 mill of the levy). Why not go to the "community meetings"? Well, I did, and it was a clown show, the "open question session" preceded with "we cannot talk about salaries and benefits". Even though they are 90% of the district expense.

    You know what I think they should do? Cut 10% of administrators off the top and have the union come to us with a wage freeze (like mine have been the last 2 years). This will prove to me this is "about the kids". Also, the administration needs to get their head of the sand as to why this levy failed. The reasons seem to be clear and consistent to me and others I have spoken with. Acknowledge them and WORK WITH THE COMMUNITY to address them fairly and promptly.

    I have a feeling Hilliard is heading the way of Canal Winchester. My buddy there has the same frustrations we do, though they have had three oppurtunities to tell their BOE they have no confidence in them. Hopefully Hilliard BOE will do the same thing before they are told no again.

  10. I think a good way to look at the levy issue is as follows

    I think automatically you have almost
    40% who will say no all the time for various reasons. Not necessarily all good reasons, but it is the cards you are dealt. Another 40 will allways support the levy so that leaves
    a battle for the remaining 20%
    The district lost that battle big time. getting only about 3% of
    that sector.

    The question is are we going to see any change in strategy by the distict. I think based on comments allready made that they dont see
    the reasons why people said no.

    My fear is that only the 10% of the budget will be affected. Not the
    90%. This would be a huge mistake

    I dont think it is appropriate not
    to budget for some increases in
    salaries, benefits etc. But in real life, if you dont have the money, you dont hand out money you dont have.

    We face a 4m shortfall. I dont see any reason for a major personnel
    reduction in actual bodies. There may be some resignations and retirements that can save a little
    But right now the district needs to communicate EXACTLY what they are proposing in the current negotiations. There is so much misinformation, inflation, deflation of the numbers, the district and the HEA need to remember that it is not THEIR money
    but is funded by the property owners whom THEY NEED to pass alevy
    for more money.

    The general scuttlebutt, and again could be very inaccurate is 3% raises across the board each year.
    Plus raises for the admin staff
    etc, and step raises.

    Why not show the increases to be paid out, seperate from opening
    Bradley and make some adjustments downward. Instead of 3% go 2 %
    and step raises of 1 to 2% perhaps
    This supposedly is in the budget so wouldnt that cut into the 4m

    I voted for the levy, but talked with many people of moderate means
    who were not happy with all of the
    big raises across the board including the adm. And all the upgrades as has been pointed out here by Paul in adm personnel
    at a faster rate than in the teaching area.

    I am hoping we hear some postive things and real economic changes tothe school budget. It can be done
    if the board, supt, and treasurer have the courage to go outside of the traditional box. Cutting the increases in compensation are an area that most districts have not had the wherewithall to do

    We will have to see

    Also when you look at the Congressional seat up, everyone better be asking Mr Stivers and Ms
    Kilroy Will you promise not to vote for any more unfunded mandates
    on our schools ? I doubt it.

  11. An independent school council is much like a PTA except it's independent of the School Board and an incumbent Parent-Teacher Association/Organization - except of course it's parents, neighbors, etc. (No fear of arm twisting by teachers or their union) They bring issues to school board meetings, help communicate either levy information or community-affecting changes within the school system. This council can also call or write their local and state representatives to push for comprehensive school funding reform. This can all be done individually, but a grassroots level organization with some funding and a little tanacity can do A LOT. Call it the Hilliard Area School Council. I don't think it will be that hard to organize the people to create it either, this blog is an excellent organizational device.

  12. KJ - So the alternative is to just LET the Hilliard school system fail? Is there a levy you would vote for? What about a consumption tax or something like that to relieve the property tax burden? I'm not advocating more taxes, I'm pretty upset on the amount of taxes I pay on a daily basis, but I'm trying to figure out a better way of funding our schools because just throwing up your arms and saying Hilliard's "glory days" are over is just...sad.

  13. I will vote for every levy, sorry if I gave a different impression. I supported this one and I will support all of them.

    However, my "Glory Days" comment is more a reflection of the school funding problem, not a reflection of Hilliard. It's about the days when we could pass a levy and not have to worry. Times have changed.... everywhere. Levy fatigue is a very real issue.

    I will assume you haven't read much of this blog, because to assume I am "throwing up my hands" would not be an accurate picture to paint of me. I've pushed for a grass-roots effort to try and engage the community to the school board, I've tried to discuss on here that the issues we face are not just of HEA/Admin salaries but more of a growth and lack of state funding issue.

    Trust me, I'm in this for the long haul and I want to be apart of the solution. I've met with school officials in the past week for this very purpose.

    Again, I am PRO levy (now and beyond) and I am attempting to be a part of the solution. I am far from a "sideline" participant. Hopefully I was able to clarify my "glory days" statement for you. But I do believe this is the beginning of a very difficult time for all suburban schools. Levies are just not going to pass easily and that will result in a decrease in school quality. I guess my point is that I expect it to get worse before it gets better. I don't see the State changing course anytime soon, I don't see industry just showing up in the next 12 months to assist in taxes, and there are only so many cuts that can be made before real pain is felt. That leaves us, the taxpayers, to pony up once again. I, for one, will pony up. But a resounding NO last night makes me wonder if the gap isn't too great to close before November.

  14. re: an independent school council

    Thanks for explaining your thoughts. Sounds like you might have seen such a thing implemented successfully elsewhere.

    The district already has two committees that are supposed to be addressing these things. One is the Citizen's Finance Committee and the other is the ACT for School Committee. I have been a member of both, but it has been a while. Neither seemed particularly interested in the things I had to say, which led me to develop and run for the Board last Nov.

    KJ and I have been talking about building a grassroots group to do much of what you describe. I plan to make the invitation in the e-newsletter, which will go out in a few days. I hope you'll want to be part of this.

    But isn't it a shame that such a thing would even be contemplated. After all the School Board itself is supposed to be the voice of the people. Instead it insulates itself from the people through routine use of Executive Sessions.

  15. To Anon at 6:10.... A clarification

    1.8x the rate to maintain the 20-to-1 ratio is not accurate. The 1.8 increase rate is the level of disproportionate increase to non-classroom teachers to student growth. The 20:1 teacher ratio is calculated by dividing the total student population by the number of classroom teachers. This DOES NOT include special teachers, most of which are ELL. As Paul has said, classroom teachers to student ratios have remained constant for years. Its the number of special teachers that has grown by a factor of 1.8 to student growth.

  16. KJ:

    Actually it's the total number of employees in all job classifications that has grown at 1.8x the student growth rate. The most disproportionate growth has been in non-teaching areas.


  17. I stand corrected. Thank you

  18. Sad but funny:

    Voters: "I think the defeat of the levy will be a wake-up call to the BOE."

    BOE president: "I think the coming cuts will be a wake-up call to the residents."

    Seems there's a whole lot of sleeping going on these days.

  19. Denise Bobbitt said in the paper, "We are at a point where $4 million in reductions will be very tangible. It will impact the way we educate our kids and that is unfortunate."

    She also said, "I am very, very disappointed and I am very disheartened and saddened for our kids."

    She said that the specifics of the cuts haven't been given yet, but they likely will include programs and services that the district provides that aren't mandated by state law.

    Of course they will!!! I mean, why should the teachers have a pay freeze, or an administrator take a pay cut? Heaven forbid, should anyone have to pay for their own health care costs!

    Mrs. Bobbitt's youngest child graduated last year. Why should she care if they make deep cuts that effect special programs, like theater, for example?

    If the school board continues with its threats against the education of our children, I will vote NO in November.

  20. One thing the board turned out to be right about was not asking for more than the relatively "modest" - given the bleak situation of the HSD - 9.5 mils. There was no way the electorate was in the mood for a more millage, which would've presumably resulted in an even more lopsided vote.

  21. TS:

    Well said. And unfortunately true.


  22. The BOE president needs to rely on the PR Spokesman or learn how to address the media in a way that isn't construed so negatively. She needs experience or training in how important wording can be. She is a one-woman wrecking crew for the district.

    Her comments are doing ANYTHING but uniting around a cause. Poor!

  23. KJ, I agree that the Public Relations director should be out front with this stuff. Unfortunatly they are not and we have two. So I can chop one position right now.

    I think the size of the rejection has the board, adm, and HEA in much consternation. However, at least from board and adm level there seems to be some denial. This is a serious issue. I am hopeful to go and see the circus Monday evening
    at Washington.

    I think I am going to present myself as an outside consultant.
    I will cut the 4m simply by arranging compensation in a different manner. I will start additionally with 15 adm. positions
    I would not touch busing, or increase fees. I would cut
    and then let the smoke clear
    Then I would parade those cuts starting Tuesday every day until
    November. Talk about Bradley only
    and this levy can pass

    By the way I will do this for
    a cheap consultation fee of $3500

  24. Does anyone know the length of BOE terms? Anyone know the timing of each board members re-election date?

    I assume like most boards, the BOE has a staggered election process so stagnation doesn't sit in, and/or so that some level of continuity is maintained. Term expirations would be nice to have.

    Thanks in advance.

  25. KJ:

    4 Years

    Terms ending 12/31/2011:

    Terms ending 12/31/2009
    Whiting (who is filling the seat vacated by Cheryl Ryan)


  26. Thanks Paul.

    So re-election for Bobbitt, Teater and Whiting be on the November ballot?

    And the balance will be on the 2010 ballot?

    2 year span between elections. Got it.

    Thanks again!

    Are you running again? Who else might be running?

  27. Anon 6:11 PM....

    $3,500 is a bargain!!!

    You have some good ideas. Plus, after you receive your fee, you can buy the first 2 rounds of cocktails! :-)

  28. No, there will be no election of Board members until Nov 2009, and that will be for the three seats currently held by Bobbitt, Teater and Whiting. In Nov 2011, the other two seats, just filled by Maggied and Lundregan, will come up for election.

    Yes, the term is four years.


  29. It appears I'm a year ahead of myself. Fpr some reason when I saw 12/31/2009 I read it as the BEGINNING of 2009. I must need caffeine.

    Thanks again

  30. I think there should be a study done as to why in 1950 you got a better education for a fraction of the cost. My parents went to school during the '50s and can't imagine their parents paying what we do (in state & property taxes) for primary & secondary education, after adjusting for inflation.

    Here's my wild guesses:

    1) Teacher pay & benefits increased dramatically due to NEA. Teaching often was a supplement to family income rather than main source of income.

    2) Ratio of students-to-teacher reduced.

    3) Infrastructure costs through the roof: athletic fields, computers, rising costs of books due to school book publisher near-monopoly and, of course, constant new construction.

    4) Many sports added, including a myriad of girls athletics programs triggered in part by Title IX.

    5) More administrative positions required due to gov't standards, lack of discipline in schools, protection against legal action, etc.

    6) Bloated bureaucracy. For example, every year my mother (who taught in the '80s) had to deal with time-consuming workshops introducing some new faddish teaching method introduced by academics in ivory towers.

  31. I'm sure much of what you say is true, though I hardly think we want to return to the state of education in the 19050's. As a woman and teacher who works with some amazing young athletes, I cannot imagine a world where girls were excluded from sports participation, for example. I am grateful to have grown up and to teach in a post-Title IX environment. And remember that a lack of discipline at home is a *big* part of why discipline is so much more challenging in today's schools. As teachers, we are expected to meet *everyone's* needs, regardless of the skill levels they bring to our classrooms, and honestly, we are expected to "parent" in many ways. If I got in trouble at school when I was growing up (which I frequently did for talking!), I knew I was in *more* trouble at home. But you should hear the excuses some parents (not all, of course) make today for their kids when we call to tell them about behavior issues. I come from multiple generations of teachers, and my father (who still teaches after 34 years because he cannot afford to retire) will tell you the job is much harder these days. But much as some people might like to, there is no returning to the past. We can only work with what we have.

  32. Thanks for your comment - you make some important points, especially about the role parents play in their children's behavior and success in school.

    But it's also true that since the 1950s (when I first started elementary school), the size and quality of our facilities has increased to an astonishing degree - paralleling the spending in our personal lives on our homes, cars, etc.

    We also now offer services and programs that were unheard of 50 years ago. Are they really needed? How much of that is a substitute for the lack of parenting you point out?

    I fear we've got a champagne taste and a beer budget, as they say.


  33. I agree with Paul.

    I look at the schools nowadays; beautiful campuses, pristine athletic fields, etc. in both secondary and college schools, and keep thinking how out of touch this is with the real world. I think the majority of kids that graduate from Hilliard (and OSU, fo that matter) will be shocked when they actually get a job and see how the rest of us work. I personally have both a technical Bachelor's and Masters degree, and come to work everyday to dirty carpet and a worn out building. I sure hope these kids don't think the rest of their days will be spent in facilities as nice as Hilliard schools :).

  34. Good point, Paul. But we have to remember that we do not operate in a vacuum. Parents and community members have come to expect a "champagne taste" and a rich variety of opportunities for their kids (myself included--I love all the opportunites my kids have). And in the 1950's we were mainly educating workers for a industrial, national economy, whereas today we need people with high-tech and critical thinking skills who can switch jobs as necessary and compete globally. We cannot go backwards if we expect to compete with other suburban districts who offer similar programs. And remember, whereas the rest of the world chooses to educate only those who demonstrate proficiency, we have always had the goal of educating everyone. And this is one goal I do not want to give up on!

  35. Sorry, but I don't agree with that. I spent my life in the fast-moving, high-tech, global competition world, and the things that gave me success had little to do with how fancy or new my school building was, or even class sizes (which was about 30 all through school).

    It was a mixture of my desire and capacity to learn, and the skills and motivation of my teachers. I was fortunate in both aspects. And it had little to do with how much money my family had (I grew up living in a trailer...), the wealth of my community (... in rural WV...), or the quality of my school buildings (... my Jr High was 60 years old).

    Some of the smartest, most highly motivated, and most competitive people I know in my field (computers & telecommunications) are from India. They grew up in what we would call poverty, and attended school in buildings we would think are appalling. They couldn't even get into a college track high school without passing competitive exams. Getting into college was even harder.

    That's who are kids are going to be competing with when they graduate. Not the kids from the next affluent district up the road, but rather these kids from India, China and other places in the world where there is no place to go but up.

    I'm not sure we're doing our kids any favor by wrapping them in this cocoon of wealth our generation has enjoyed, and making them think it's automatic for them as well.

    Our kids face a much tougher world than we have. Not all of them will succeed, not even all the good ones. We have to learn to direct our resources to those who have potential AND desire.

    Instead we have rich kids who don't care consuming high-cost resources in fancy school systems while we squander the potential of poor kids stuck in the urban core.

    You're right, in other countries, the kids are sorted out by their aptitude and attitude. Here we sort them out by wealth.

    Which do you think is better?

  36. Did anyone else see the Superintendent's comment that only one time in 25 years has the district been successful in passing a levy on the first attempt? If so, then why in the world didn't they put this levy on last year's ballot if the cuts are supposedly so draconian?

  37. This comment has been removed by the author.

  38. Denise Bobbit tells us that the cuts already made were not even noticed due to the good staff? (Yesterdays NW News)Ridiculous! They were not noticed because she never told us what they were, and I suspect, that what was cut was overstaffed to start with. Lets get back to educating our kids, learning how to do more with less, and keeping the taxpayers informed as to where our money is going. The residential growth is already a mere trickle of what is has been; that is water over the dam that should have been addressed by previous administrations, both in the City and the School Board. The Board did the same thing GM did - stuck their heads in the sand for too many years and is now having to face the music. They let salaries grow by 7% per year, bought land for a new school where nobody wanted it, built a new HS after telling the voters who approved the money years ago for the current schools that they could be added on to handle future growth, and on and on. The City and the School District have been entirely mismanaged and now we are being asked to pay a price. I won't vote Yes in November unless I see a total reorganization of priorities.
    I want my taxes to pay for a great basic education - tack on user fees for anything extra. Pay-to-play for sports comes to mind, although there are many other programs that the everyday taxpayer should not have to cover. I am really looking forward to the HEA handling their contract issue now. NOT!

  39. Some interesting posts here, which deep down I think everyone supports what the schools do, what the teachers are up against, how things are tight etc. I think everyone, even if we wish things to go back to the 50's understands that a quality education is important

    What we have now facing us is a
    broken LP record that skips from the schools
    It is for the kids, we dont understand why it failed, we are going to make cuts to hurt,
    we dont communicate well, only what we want to hear, and oh by the way
    we keep handing out premium compensation. In the last few years that has worked and people hae basically overlooked it, didnt know about, didnt care about it.
    But now things are tighter. It will get better, but I believe that we will be in some challenging times over the next two years.

    I am not sure what the admin and
    the HEA were thinking about this latest contract contreversy. It is almost like it was supposed to get settled and go away. And dont forget the HEA supports the adm
    and the board at election time

    New faces are needed. I greatly admire all the work that many people have taken the time to
    do at school, serving on the board
    I will choose not to criticize
    what has happened in the past. We cant change any of it, but we can
    make changes to the present way of doing things. We need new faces
    not tied into all the volunteering
    the close knit political ties,
    the backroom deals, etc. We need
    a group of people to run for the board who will question every expenditure, every new program
    because we are at what I would call a critical crossroad. I think we are in danger of creating some long term damage.

    The challenge is to raise enough money and get a huge grass roots
    group that will turn out votes, sign petitions, and stand up and say enough is enough. We should
    be respectful and acknowledge that those in power have a tough job
    and a challenging task.

    I could be wrong but I sense
    some real discontent, some very
    poor responses on the part of our district.

    We need some leadership and courage
    We are going to have to think outside the box, we are going to have to bite the bullet financially. Too many people have figured out the compensation gig,
    and some selfishly I will admit, are not interested in paying out
    premium compensation right now

    The time is right and ripe to
    cut back, not eliminate to be clear the compensation model. The contract is up, and now is the time
    to take care of business. Similarly
    the adm staff will need some adjustments also.

    As someone told me just yesterday
    I just spent $425.00 on medical costs on myself including my monthly premium, co pays, dr visit tests.

    It is time for a NEW PERSPECTIVE
    Sorry this is long thanks for

  40. In response to Paul's last post: Paul, you wrote that, "Instead we have rich kids who don't care about consuming high-cost resources in fancy school systems while we squander the potential of poor kids stuck in the urban core." Frankly, I am disappointed with your response. From reading the blog for the past month, I really expected you not to make such sweeping generalizations about kids. My kids are certainly not rich: upper-middle class, yes, but by no means rich. And they are extremely grateful for the opportunities they have. They volunteer in homeless shelters and nursing homes, and they have had to work to raise money for such privileges as an X-box. Please do not presume to know my kids. And most--certainly not all--of the kids I teach in Hilliard do not fit your "ungrateful rich kid" stereotype either. I have worked in urban schools -- I do agree with your points about the problems there, and I agree that ideally kids should be judged on their aptitude and attitude. This is what I have always taught my kids. I realize school funding is in a crisis situation now, and I agree there needs to be more creative solutions to curb suburban growth and increase equity in school funding. But I do not believe any of this is solved by cutting back on the opportunities for our kids. Just out of curiosity, where would you start? With music? Sports? Clubs? Arts classes? Keep in mind for many kids--and sometimes especially for the least affluent in our midst--these are the very opportunities that keep them coming to school in the first place.

  41. As far as Hilliard school quality goes, I think it's competitive with most school districts but that's hardly something to brag about.

    It's easy to wax nostalgic about those halycon days of the three R's and one-room school houses teaching Latin & Greek but there is some truth to it. One need only listen to the Lincoln/Douglas debates and what passes for debate these days in order to induce a cringe. Or read the letters of average Civil War soldiers. G. Gordon Liddy once said that a high school degree in 1950 is equivalent to a college degree now and I wouldn't doubt it.

    That we are stupider is hardly contestable, but why it should cost so much more to produce so much stupidity is harder to understand.

  42. Anon, I understand your perspective and by my standards, along with my kids, their friends they do a tremendous amount of community service, try and be supportive of their friends, are respectful of their teachers. Unfortunatly we all do not get to see the positve outcomes of many, many many kids
    My hats off to them

    But our children do benefit from outstanding facilities, opportunities to participate etc
    And often which I believe to be part of his point that is important to remember,that the schools do spend time playing parent. This is not just about those on the low income scale either, you can throw in the higher economic end also
    The social pressures are also
    huge, drugs, drinking, behavior issues. The kids do have great
    resources. I dont think any of us
    want to end that

    The budget consists of almost
    90% of compensation. I would not touch sports, arts, music, busing
    etc. If there is a program that has very light participation, perhaps it should be on the drawing board
    No one (except KJ) who is part of the district is willing to talk about the compensation level
    You can make adjustments to save the 4m right now by making some simple adjustments to the compensation package. No layoffs, just less increases, and some
    medical contributions by the district employees. Let me be clear that what was given in the past was done fair and square. It cannot be taken back. But continued levels
    of compensation that are again in the new contract conflict what is going on in the real world

    But in the private sector, when the revenue is not there, you make
    changes. And unfortunatly I had to make a tough decision this week
    to eliminate a position. It was
    very hard. But for the long term betterment and future, there was not enough work to go around and with the economy many of our customers are making adjustments

    Let me just say that the current structure supported our current legislators and if you voted for all the current office holders you have NO ONE to blame for yourself
    They sent tax breaks to many of those well connected and sent the bill to the individual property owner. A member of our board called out the current governor
    but had NOTHING to say about the previous governor who also had the support of both the House and the Senate.

    The bottom line is the electorate has sent a message and the response from the district so far, which I hope will change is one of a total lack of respect for the electorate
    If it really is about the kids, then the 4m in cuts will be made
    in the compensation model, no cuts in the arts, music, sports etc.
    Some reduction in adm. And how then does that hurt the kids?

    I suspect a small groundswell
    is rising, and more tough questions are going to be asked by the voters of their school systems leaders

    Is it business as usual, or can we expect that everything is on the table not just punishing the kids and the taxpayer

    That dog wont hunt ANYMORE

  43. I deserved that, and I apologize.

    Perhaps the issue is what folks in the project management profession call 'scope creep' - when little incremental things sneak into the plan raising the cost and delaying completion.

    It's almost impossible to identify what those things are when you are a parent experiencing the school system through the eyes of your kids. Each family has a unique perspective of what the school offers, and that family wants most to preserve those things - be they facilities, staffing, or programs and services - that touch their own kids.

    This is most tangible when you think about the facilities. Do we really need a football complex of this calibre? The performing arts center is nicer than Weigel Hall at OSU. Are the chemistry labs being used productively, or are they just high cost classrooms?

    Programming is less tangible because it is supported by staff, not facilities. All we can see from the outside is that the number of employees has grown nearly 180% of the rate of students, and have to wonder how many of those folks are necessary. Or better said - that we want to pay for.

    We come to think of this stuff as necessary, when it's really just nice-to-have. Nice is good, but not necessary.

    It's back to that champagne taste and beer budget dilemma. If we want all this stuff, we have to pass the levy and pay for it.

    If we're going to vote down levies, we have to accept less 'nice' and live with 'sufficient.'

  44. I, for one, would be glad if schools concentrated more on education on less on being a defacto minor league for collegiate sports.

  45. Gasp!! Bite your tounge!!! Sports are awesome!

    That was meant as a joke, no real conflict intended.

    Now, this does bring up an interesting scenario. What do you think will happen if the HEA/Board contract hasn't been settled by fall? That's right... Football and other fall activities (including band, theater, etc) will be held "hostage" for negotiations. One thing the community would rally around is sports! It will become leverage if it gets that far.

    Personally, I love HS football and would hate to see that leveraged as it would be sad to see a kid's senior season taken away. Especially since it would be for political gain and the kids would be the real ones hurt.

    When (IF) the kids start being used as pawns (in a more direct and impactful way then they already are) I will be even MORE vocal in my displeasure with the HEA and the District.

    Yes, it would be the HEA that would likely pull that trigger, but don't think for a minute the Admin doesn't see that as a point of leverage as well. Pushing the HEA to that timeframe (by not negotiating) forces the HEA to play their "cards", making the Admin the "good guys".

    Pushing negotiations to that point will put all the pressure on the HEA and unfortunately (And this is an assumption that is solely mine based on what I've seen other districts do) the HEA could be inticed to use that leverage.

    I sure hope it doesn't come to that... but from a simplistic standpoint, the Board's leverage is cutbacks "that hurt" and the HEA's leverage would be an ill-timed strike.

    No winners in that, and plenty of blame to go around when or if that happens.

    Let's hope it doesn't go that far. But based on the posturing I've seen, it doesn't look like Bobbitt or the HEA are playing well together.

    I think several people are sealing their fate. Hope they enjoy this period, as I think it will be their last.


  47. I would urge Paul, and any interested readers, to read the first chapter of "The Unmaking of the Mayor" by the late William F. Buckley.

    In light of Denise Bobbitt's recent comments, Buckley's thesis is interesting: "...I shall be touching on [the difficulty] of persuading any living human being to rue, publicly or privately, a misrepresentation to which he has become committed."

  48. TS:

    Thanks, I'll add it to my wish list. Buckley was one of my modern heros, along with Milton Friedman.