Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Meeting Summary: Jan 6, 2009

by Mark Morscher

14 people gathered on the icy night after the OSU bowl loss to further delve into the big picture of school funding and discuss the future of Save Hilliard as a public presence. There continues to be strong interest in having a group like this in Hilliard, as well as a desire to attend future meetings. It is clear that emphasis needs to shift to branding, platform development and action. Toward this end, six people volunteered to assist moving the group forward.

Our next meeting will be:

Monday, February 2, 6:45-8:15pm
Hilliard Public Library Meeting Room.
Please join us and bring friends!

During the meeting on January 6th, we presented a proposed mission and scope for group, which included:

Educating community about school economics

Communicate with the community how plans and actions of community officials affect school economics.

Communicate with school leaders what we hear from the community regarding economic matters

Motivate community members to become interested in school economics and governance of our community.

We also presented what we are NOT going to do:

Evaluate or criticize curriculum, programming and staff.

Triangulate the relationship between the community and school board. We are not an advocacy group or formal opposition.

Paul's vision of the future is to make ourselves redundant by:

Seeing that three Board members are elected in November that share our beliefs regarding Strategic Planning and Community Relations

Becoming the core of formal community advisory groups commissioned by the School Board.

We also presented a timeline for 2009 that showed various milestones for the School Board election. There was general agreement and limited discussion on the proposed, high level mission and scope.

Paul then presented a background on the "unconstitutionality" of school funding in Ohio, and several "Not Quite Truths" that have been prominent. During the presentation, several neat scatter correlation charts were presented that showed where HCSD related to all other Ohio school districts by a variety of metrics (median income, median home valuation, average teacher salary, per-pupil spending…). The results appear to show Hilliard pretty much following the trend of other school districts in Ohio. This reinforces that Hilliard is not facing any unique funding challenges within the state.

During the presentation, several other familiar topics were raised and discussed:

  • The relationship between municipal governments, the school district and developers. Given the history of growth in the Hilliard area and the impact it has on the cost borne by homeowners to fund public education, there was a feeling amongst the group of being taken advantage of by the developers and municipalities.
  • The recurring theme of apathy and how it is typically one of the leading factors in things getting out of control, whether it is over development, school funding trajectory or governance of STRS Investment performance.
  • Paul went over property tax basics like Total Tax, Effective Tax and how it relates to the state funding formula.
  • Paul showed the teacher pay scale as related to Step Increases and the base pay raise. A discussion also ensued regarding insurance and retirement. Paul reiterated that he doesn't know what an appropriate employee compensation package should look like, but to have that dialog in the community, he feels people need to understand the components better given that it is almost 90% of costs.

Goals/Next Steps

I will be working with Paul and the volunteers to identify the sub-groups (Platform/Branding, Outreach, Education,…) within the organization that need to be formed in order to fulfill the stated mission and goals. My goal is to have more concrete definition, milestones and next steps for each group to present and discuss at the next meeting.

We will need more people at the next meeting to help shape and support the new groups!

I look forward to seeing you February 2, 6:45pm at the Hilliard Library Meeting Room



  1. This reinforces that Hilliard is not facing any unique funding challenges within the state.

    Interesting...I've been wondering how much (i.e. what percentage) of the constant need for Hilliard levies is due to mismanagement of development, and how much is a structural problem unrelated to development.

  2. Eire:

    One more possibility: that this phenomenon of residential development getting ahead of commercial development and upsetting the funding balance is a statewide problem.

    When you have an entity which collects revenue from multiple streams - and it doesn't matter whether we're talking about a private enterprise or a government entity - if the proportions of those streams change relative to each other, it can create havoc if those in charge don't react property.

    One could say that our current sub-prime mortgage crisis is exactly the same thing. The folks running the banks knew how to manage things when their income came from high quality mortgages, car loans and credit card debt.

    But when they started rolling the dice and increasing the income they derived from riskier sources, they (and we) found out that they didn't know how to operate safely in that environment.

    Actually those two things are connected. The willingness of the lending institutions to lower their standards created the housing boom that drove all this residential development that has screwed up our school funding balance.

    These times of great scams always create a massive redistribution of wealth. And like any Ponzi scheme, the folks who get in early, and are also smart enough to get out early, make all the money and everyone else gets screwed.

    I wonder who ultimately has captured all the money in this mortgage/housing boom gone bust. It's usually just a few guys, like this Madoff character with his classical Ponzi scheme.

    But I think a lot of it just evaporated. When a house drops in value by 20% because of the lack of demand, no one is making any more on it...

  3. Mark,what a great plan you and the group have provided a base of moving forward on. Congrats to all of you.

  4. Mark/Paul,

    I am extremely impressed by how you appear to approaching and managing this organization. Your plan of action, complete with what will and WILL NOT be a part of the purpose, will only serve you/US well.

    I look forward to seeing the positive results, and will continue to root for you behind the scenes. I think you are on to something big here, good luck to you.

    I can't help but think a community group developed in this manner will be received well by HCSD. This is definitely an all hands on deck situation, and to have community volunteers step up in this fashion is great.


  5. Rick and musicman, thank you for your feedback and words of support. I hope both of you continue to provide viewpoints that help steer a balanced approach that is critical to openly address the challenges facing this district.

  6. Actually those two things are connected. The willingness of the lending institutions to lower their standards created the housing boom that drove all this residential development that has screwed up our school funding balance.

    Great point Paul. The housing bubble couldn't have helped the residential/commercial balance.

  7. Mark/Paul,

    Ditto what musicman said!!

  8. Mark, et al....

    Sounds like things are off to a strong start on a solid foundational purpose.

    Weeknights are just so hard for me. But I really would like to be at many of these meetings! I had planned on attending the latest one, but obviously that didn't work out too well.

  9. I missed the last meeting to it being on Tuesday, the one night of the week where I have no flexibility regarding another commitment but I'll make the next one, with my sleeves rolled up. Meanwhile, lets see what we can do about spreading the word and maybe get some people to come with us?