I sent the following message to the leaders of our school district today, with copies to the editors of the community newspapers. If you agree, please let them know.
To to the Leaders of the Hilliard City School District:*
Over the past several days, we have been watching a crisis developing in our economy while our national leaders do little to restore confidence. I grew up hearing stories about the Great Depression from my parents, who lived through it - as I suspect did most of yours. In retrospect, most students of the Depression have concluded that while a painful downturn might not have been avoided, the severity of the situation might have been substantially lessened had the Federal government reacted more quickly and decisively to protect the banking system. It wasn't the crash of the stock market that triggered the Depression, it was the failure of the Federal government to help the banking system restore confidence when a few banks collapsed.
I believe that you have a similar situation before you in regard to our school district.
I believe the turnout for this election will be on the order of 80%, or 33,000 voters, meaning it will take more than 16,500 votes in favor of the levy for it to pass. If the 26,810 voters in the March election vote exactly the same in this election (11,593 FOR, 15,217 AGAINST), the extra 6,000 voters in this election will have to vote nearly 4 to 1 in favor for passage. It's a formidable goal - all but impossible I fear.
I can think of one move you can make right now that might give this levy a chance of passage, one I suggested during Public Participation at the School Board meeting on August 11 -
- for all employees of the school district - Administrators, HEA and OAPSE, to put a one-year moratorium on salary increases for 2009.
For HEA and OAPSE members, this would mean using the 2008 salary grids for 2009, and the 2009 salary grids for 2010. Step increases would still be in effect; only the 3% base pay increases would be skipped. For Administrators, it would mean freezing salaries for 2009 at 2008 levels, and no more than 3% raises for 2010. I estimate that this move would reduce spending approximately $3 million/yr.
More importantly, it would signal to the people of the community that you understand their concerns and are willing to sacrifice a little for the good of all.
Otherwise I fear this levy has very little chance of passing. The consequence will be deep and destructive cutbacks in our district, followed by years of painful and divisive recovery.
You must act quickly. This is no time for 'business-as-usual' if you want to avoid this crisis.
* email@example.com; mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com