Monday, April 27, 2009

It’s For the Kids, Right?

The agenda for tonight's Board of Education meeting (which was posted today rather than last Friday, as is policy) contains these personnel actions:

F1-A: "[the]Superintendent…as part of a continuing District-wide reduction in force… under Article 16 of the Board's labor agreement with the Hilliard Education Association OEA/NEA, the employment contracts of the following certificated/licensed employees be suspended, effective with the start of the 2009-10 school year, for lack of funds"

  • Jason Kruder (50%) – English/Speech
  • Erika Little – Health/Phys Ed

F2/F3: Approve new administrative contracts for Nathan Bobek and Luis Vazquez as Student Services Coordinators at Hilliard Davidson, with two year terms.

Does that make any sense to you? If there is a district-wide reduction in force being carried out because there is a lack of funds, why would two new staffers be hired at the same time two teachers are being laid off?

Because the HEA contract specifies that those lowest in seniority get laid off first, we must assume that these two are our newest hires. I don't know Mr. Kruder or Ms. Little, or which schools they teach in, but if our selection process is a good one, we should be able to assume that they were hired from the large pool of applicants because they have excellent credentials, and the interviewers felt they would be good additions to our district. It's seems a shame to cut them loose just as they are getting their careers started.

I also have little doubt that there are two other more senior and more highly paid teachers who are chronic underperformers who, in a rational world, would have been given their walking papers before these two young teachers. To retain underperforming teachers while terminating two promising teachers seems grotesque, and certainly a waste of taxpayer money.

And then there's the fact that these two personnel actions results in a net headcount change of zero. If this stuff is "all about the kids" – the mantra behind ever decision our school leadership makes – is it true that the kids benefit more by having two fewer teachers and two more Student Services Coordinators?

Finally, a point I've made many times before: Notice that the HEA leadership is willing to sacrifice two of its youngest members in order to protect the salaries and benefits of the rest. Had the HEA instead offered to skip just one year of its 3% base raises, it would have freed up more than enough money to save the jobs of these two teachers.

It's not about the kids. It's not about the teachers either, at least all the teachers.

It's about money, and the use of the political power of the teachers' union to protect those with the most through the involuntary sacrifice of those with the least.


  1. Paul,

    Health, English, and Student Service Coordinators are in different departments. It is quite possible they do not have funds for the Health and English positions, but may be required by law, or showed excess need for the student service coordinators (Granted I have no clue what a S.S.C. does). Perhaps the new SSC's are replacing old SSC's that have retired. Not sure it is quite so cut and dried.

    I do agree about older teachers who should be canned, AND that it is about teachers more than students sometimes.

  2. Musicman:

    I'm sure that at some level, the hiring of the SSCs makes sense to someone. But at best, the way it was listed in the agenda is another indication of the Board's insensitivity to public perception. Why did no one in the district's leadership observe that the juxtaposition of these two items on the agenda looks bad without further explanation?

    For example, if you hypothesis is correct, all they would have to add is "as required by law" to the agenda item.

    I'm sure part of the answer is that they aren't really expecting anyone to read the agenda. After all, they didn't bother posting it until I asked why it wasn't posted last Friday, per their own policy.

    As always, I appreciate your insight.


  3. It's not a net zero: the SSCs are probably paid more, and the board is likely picking up the employee share of SERS (10%) for them, on top of the compulsory 14.5% STRS.


  4. TJ,

    Do you have insight into what an SSC does?

  5. I've put that very question to Carrie Bartunek, the district's Community Relations coordinator.

  6. Paul, we might also ask Ms Bartunik if this has any federal money attached to it.

    Very interesting on the hiring and dehiring !

    Interesting further if you see
    the new contracts, $3,000 + for a7 th grade baseball coach /

    No word yet on the remediation. However in looking at the figures it looks like the rate has gone down. But why was it so high in the first place.

    We can set a limit on growth in our spending. If we continue
    to make our cuts ignoring the 90%
    number, we are just delaying the inevitable.

    So I have another idea. The next levy should increase our taxes
    by $70 per 100,000 in value.
    That will allow a small increase in spending for the next 3 years.
    The treasurer can do the math, see what the incremental dollars are
    and move on from there. I still believe we will see a bond issue in the next 3 years also, so our contribution from the community will still be significant.

    I have full faith that the step raise will be hidden and not spoken to. So....................
    at a point in the near future I will be proposing this.

    A reopener of the contract effecttive the end of this year.
    A new 2 year deal. 2.25% increase in contract growth 10% increase
    in medical minimum. Eliminate
    snow days. Reduce by 10% all supplemental contracts .

    Renegotiate all contracts with vendors taking in to account past raises due to fuel increases, delivery charges, cost of goods.

    Administrative raises fixed at 2%

    If we dont do this now, and we see the actuality of the latest projection from the state house
    that we will lose at least 5m in funding, what else are we to do.

    Ignoring the coming challenge will
    lead to an organized challenge and
    all the obstructionism in the system. ALL students should have equal access to facilities, programs, scholarship opportunities
    award documentation et al.

    Final note. If you want to work to the contract than it is really not about the kids . Thousands of new, eager, and talented teachers are graduating in the next few months. If you want to work to the contract then dont let the door hit you on the way out.

    There is a myth that no other teachers anywhere else, or new teachers coming from our universities can properly teach our kids and insure their success

    On the side, I think that any student, parent having to pay for remedial work in college, if they have been given a B or Higher in HS
    should be reimbursed in full by the district and the HEA. This is an additional tax on the parent and student. This will stop grade inflation.

  7. musicman--it's just another make-work position in your school. take a guidance counselor a school psychologist and a social worker, mutate them into a single person, take away any and all measurements of effectiveness and--voila--you have a SSC.

    they are--quite literally--nannies.

    you can say that they help kids transition to the classroom, or with personal issue and crises and all that, but...really...enough already...

    a district will stop at nothing to take as much responsibility away from the teaching staff as it possibly can.

    no longer do teachers in our district do lunch duty, do playground duty or do recess duty. in the last three years we have hired hourlies to do all that. the "SSC" is just another way for teachers to not have to deal with students they find inconvenient.

    In Olentangy they hired a guy for $87,000 to track attendance in one of the high schools. When the only board member who gives a crap about anything objected to it they retitled him as "Dean of Students" and gave him "disciplinary responsibility". So, then...what the hell do the two assistant principals at each high school do?

    See how the game is played? Fancy, official-sounding title = indispensibility.


  8. Rick--on the remediation:

    The sampling for the statistic is as follows: it's half of students at Ohio schools at which six or more students attend. The OBoR does it this way as a privacy measure, so that students cannot be identified. Because of the nature of the sampling you cannot go by individual years--that's why you'll see wide swings. You need to go with the average of the four years provided, and that provides a more accurate sample.

  9. Anon April 29 6:09 PM...

    You have no idea of what you speak. Educate yourself on what teachers go through to "mainstream" kids that are, to use your word, inconvenient.

    Hilliard teachers, since the last levy, have added all of those duties you cited in addtion to classroom lessons and IEP's for many of their students.

    I have my opinions, but I try to base them on fact. If you ar a common reader to this site, you know I am an equal opportunity complainer. I hit them all... teachers, union, admin, BOE, etc. So this isn't a pro-teacher stance. It's one of factual communication.

  10. KJ--I hope you're not an English teacher because your reading comprehension begs for improvement.

    I wasn't speaking of Hilliard, now, was I?

    A month ago one of our elementary students in Olentangy tried to hang himself on the playground. He got up on top of the swing set, tied one end of a jump rope to the top bar, tied the other end around his neck, and jumped. The incident was, of course, white washed by the administration (and echoed by the local paper) as an "accident" that would have ended tragically if not for the heroic actions of teachers and administrators..., but according to students the teachers and aids were gabbing on the side of the building and not watching the kids.

  11. KJ, I agree that the total new impact in a number of areas is not well known. That is a communication issue which is typical.

    Anon, does make some points that there are smokescreens going on in various arenas. As noted in Pauls notes, we cut two positions, but yet added two more. That is not a cut. It is a tradeoff.

    I have absolutely no issue with
    fair compensation, taking care of students with a variety of challenges and coaching them, teaching them. Put it out in black and white, what the cost is,
    what the requirements are specifically. There will be increases to all of us, but the districts have failed in their responsibility to only hold the individual homeowner financially responsible, while handing out raises and benefits that are totally out of line.

    Things that won't fly anymore

    1. It's about the kids.
    This phrase is on the banned list starting now. It is not about the kids, it is about working to the contract, and denying students
    equal access to various financial assistance opportunities

    2. If you think we cannot afford to lose any employee in this district then you need a drug screen today. People move around all the time. It is a slap in the face to employees from other districts and new grads coming out and basically telling them they are not competent. This attitude in this district that everyone is indispensible is a crock.
    3. IF any admin, employee, union member, levvy supporter et al talks anymore about people being selfish and not caring, they should resign and take their holier than though, and I know better attitude somewhere else
    4. If Excellent with Distinction means, we have 20% plus of our seniors taking remediation classes
    that too is a crock, and that dog wont hunt anymore. You want to take credit, you had better own up to your shortfalls, happens here
    5. If the new advisory committee,
    (should have been done by now allready) doesn't come up with the fact that we need to reduce our rate of spending increases on contracts, then these so called experts aren't really willing to
    provide financial guideance sp

    The district and the union leadership and apologists seem to convienently forget that the HCDS district community has consistently supported its schools, students, infrastructure and support system. Enough of the you dont get it. There should be discussions going on right now how to make adjustments publicly and accurately on the next contract, and then immediatly begin an assessment of what the next levy is going to cost the individual homeowner.

    The alternative is business as usual 7% raises, more planning time, more snow days, more holidays, minimal medical contribution and increased pension contributions. Somehow, I think this is the path this district will remain on. They have shown nothing to the contrary

  12. I don't think Paul votes for Hilliard City Council, but it'd be nice if there was more info about the candidates. I don't much trust Brett Sciotto and I certainly don't trust the endorsements of the local Republican (slogan: "Developer's Welcomed!") party.

  13. Anon 6:29 ...

    "a district will stop at nothing to take as much responsibility away from the teaching staff as it possibly can."

    Seemed pretty generic to me. "A district" would imply Hilliard and others.

    I'm just saying, you act as if Teachers do nothing and that they "pass off" inconvenient students. Simply not true!!

  14. Anon 6:29...

    I'm no english teacher, and my reading comprehension is poor, but I thought you said teachers in your district didn't have recess duty?

    Quote April 28, 2009 6:09 PM"no longer do teachers in our district do lunch duty, do playground duty or do recess duty. in the last three years we have hired hourlies to do all that. the "SSC" is just another way for teachers to not have to deal with students they find inconvenient."Quote April 29, 2009 6:48 AM " A month ago one of our elementary students in Olentangy tried to hang himself on the playground.... but according to students the teachers and aids were gabbing on the side of the building and not watching the kids." Two posts, two different stories. Which is FACT?

  15. Rick,

    I'm all for calling out the Admin, Union, and BOE at every turn...

    But before I do, I want to understand some things...

    1) is an SSC a union position or an admin position? I ask only because of the wording in the agenda

    2) Are SSC's required by law?

    3) Are SSC's paid from our school tax money or from federal money or some other pot that doesn't come directly from our property taxes?

    4)Are these backfill already lost SSC positions? If so, it's still a net loss as no new positions were added

    Hey, if it's a smokescreen, let's call them on it. And I'm no great fan of the district's either, but I want to KNOW what I'm talking about before I bash.

    Can anyone comment on my questions so I can form a proper opinion?

  16. I emailed the following question to Carrie Bartunek at 9am 4/28/09:


    I wasn't able to make the meeting last night, so I wonder if you could briefly describe what the roles are of the Student Services Coordinators that were given new contracts?

    I'll post her answer when I get it.


  17. KJ-- it's a requirement that there are two teachers present around the hourlies (to supervise the hourlies who supervise the kids...), but the hourlies do the work. The teachers take turns eating in the cafeteria instead of in the teachers lounge while the hourlies walk around and yell at the kids for talking too loudly (I've seen this personally--really bizarre), and the teachers also gab with each other on the playground while the hourlies are supposed to be watching the kids. So, the teachers on the playground that day were not supervising the hourlies who were not supervising the kids. Does this make any sense?

    Teacher classroom hours-requirements have been reduced significantly, contractually for the purpose of allowing them "planning time"(which is farcicle because many of them just retire to the lounge to BS) while our costs have risen dramatically to pay for these hourlies. Now new benefit--which is what it is--includes "study hall".

    My understanding of Worthington is that they built into the latest teacher contract $30 gas cards to each teacher as an incentive for them to get Wellness checkups. When does the insanity end?

  18. Kj, I understand where you are coming from, and agree to your basic tenants of getting good information

    I think it is laughable that we as citizens have to dig this garbage out. We PAY people to communicate what is going on in the district.
    If we truly had a good communication system goingm, we allready would have the answers.

    It seems someone is allways having to request information.

    Here is the huge problem with this whole thing in this District and many others.

    Something goes wacko, and they hide behind, we didnt know ?
    Hello, you are paid to run the show, not the everyday citizen. When you have individual citizens trying to disrupt things, then that also creates issues.

    It seems they get a free ride everytime, but if ANYONE asks a question, then you are against
    "those who cannot be named" Hi Harry.!

    Here's the simple drill that can
    put everything in a positive light

    Create a new contract, keep the increase minimal for 3 years, note their will be an increase, not a cut. Get concessions from vendors,cut back on supplemental pay, seems we have hundreds of these positions, that seemingly and convienently go to family members or friends of employees in the distrct.

    Get after it, see what 70.00 per
    100,000 gets us to help us out.

    Then lets do some real planning
    about the pending cuts from the state and make necessary adjustments

    At some point before we talk about anything else, we will stop trying to make 100% of our cuts from
    10% of the budget.

  19. Anonymous,

    Never a good idea to base ones opinion ONLY on the anecdotal evidence you have "witnessed." My anecdotal evidence tells me that you are a self-righteous blow-hard, but I would guess that isn't the case. As a result, i won't judge you based solely on your hate-infused diatribes on this web page.

    A little disappointed you didn't respond to my joke about your mother being on here; a little levity never hurt anyone! Unless you didn't find it funny, in which case I'll have to kick it up a notch!!

  20. Musicman: It earned a little chuckle...

  21. Musicman says:


    Never a good idea to base ones opinion ONLY on the anecdotal evidence you have "witnessed." My anecdotal evidence tells me that you are a self-righteous blow-hard, but I would guess that isn't the case. As a result, i won't judge you based solely on your hate-infused diatribes on this web page."

    Wow--you're picking on little, old me when I said nothing mean to you. I've never gotten nasty with you. Granted, I get frustrated with people who are so in denial about the real motives of our school district employees that they (you) actually say that they're doing an "excellent" job--even after confronted with evidence that they collect 25.5% retirement while graduating 30% of your kids without being competent in high school math and English, and other evidence abounds pointing to deceit and sloth. Shame on you.

    But if you're going to call me a blowhard then be sure you capitalize the first letter and preface it with "Mr."

    By the way: What "opinion" did I base on anectdotal evidence? Anyway, what you said was silly, as your lofty opinions of school district administrators was left unchanged even when pie after pie of fact-based (not "anecdotal") evidence smashed you in the mug. Any reasonable person would have had second thoughts about his position--but not Musicman! He stood there, with pie dripping down his face, proclaiming that those school district administrators were just fantastic! You're really rich, Musicman!

    And what "hateful" diatribe have I engage in?

    I think you're really, really confused.


  22. ... and let's leave it there gentlemen..


  23. No food fight here. I was a supporter of our schools and supported our last levy, but decided to "trust but verify". So I invested the initiative and time to lift up the hood and make the effort to become informed about our districts finances, policies and behaviors. What I discovered was a most astonishing ethical corruption (yes, corruption).

    There is an endless propaganda effort to prop up meaningless accolades as proof that our district--indeed most, if not all, public school districts--are serving our kids and community well. Well, they're not. The state preparedness stats say they're not; the national core competency stats say they're not; the international comparison stats say they're not. But, every memo from our district reads, "We're Great!"

    Two of Olentangy's high schools regularly make the annual "Newsweek Top 1,000 Best Schools" list. The district touts this as an achievement. But what they don't bother to include on the press release is that it's a QUALITATIVE measurement of how many students from those high schools took AP courses, divided against the total number of students enrolled to arrive at a ratio. Schools nationwide with the highest ratios make the list. It is not a QUALITATIVE metric.
    Doesn't matter that most of the students fail the courses, averaging somewhere in the 60% range. But, we made the Newsweek list! Pay us more!! It's deceitful--they know it--and they're comfortable knowing that not many do.

    The Remediation rate, which is well covered here. That's another one.

    The fact that Olentangy is the 15th wealthiest district in the state, but ranks around 100th in the state. If that isn't the clearest indicator of underperformace then I don't know what is.

    The treasurer--the most useless POS I've ever seen--does not know how to budget from a zero base (no kidding--a board member discovered this--I'm not kidding). She reportedly would just carry over prior year budgets and put a margin on top for inflation. When the rest of the board discoverd that this person who makes $100,000+, plus 25.5% retirement benefits did not know how to budget they authorized her to hire a "Budget Officer"--I'm not kidding. This was an "Incompetence Tax".
    Every year OLSD prepares a financial review called a CAFR (comprehensive annual financial review). They hire an auditor to prepare the statements, and then hire a consultant to put the package together. So we spend tens of thousands of dollars to prepare this thing that is not required by the state, but looks pretty. She submits it and then collects an "Excellence in Financial Reporting" from the state for it...when the award is literally for the formatting of the report, and not for the health of the financial position of the district. I am not kidding, but, again, the deceit is astounding that they prop this meaningless accolade up as proof that they're managing our funds well, when the only fiscally responsible board member time and again proves that they do not.

    Here's a link to the GFOA's award judging criteria. Try not to laugh. This is what our district passes off to the public as proof that they manage our money responsibly:

    I could go on and on, but then Musicman will accuse me again of being a blowhard hatemonger.


  24. TJ:

    Powerful stuff - thanks for the insights.

    The more we peel back the layers of the onion that is public education, the more perverse it gets.

    We shouldn't be surprised. Anytime we have so much money in play - a couple hundred $million/yr in the case of our district - we can expect there to be shenanigans designed to either: a) use the money to derive power (by being able to direct how it gets spent); or, b) actually being on the receiving end of the spending.

    The only way to control this behavior is with active community scrutiny. Unfortunately, few people in our community - or any other community for that matter - choose to give a damn.

    Apathy is the shadow in which the cockroaches live. Shine a light in the shadow, and they scatter, but don't really go away. You can't completely eradicate them unfortunately, but with a thorough housecleaning, you can bring them under control.

    But you have to start by actually caring. And then you have to act.

    I'm appreciative of all the readers of this blog who care. But you can't sit on your duff any longer if you want things to change.

    At the very least, get your friends and neighbors to read this blog too. Or come to one of our planning meetings - there's one tomorrow night (May 4, 2009).

  25. Sorry--I meant to say "Quantitative" measurement--HOW MANY kids took (or were pushed into) AP classes, rather than a "Qualitative" measurement, based on HOW WELL they did.

    So, a school in which 500 kids fail their AP courses gets a higher ranking in the Newsweek list than a school in which their 300 AP students passed. Does this make any sense?

    Our district has a press release on this every year, knowing just how much BS it is. But the public is fat, dumb and content and the district finds immense comfort knowing this. So, they lie through their teeth. It's really disgusting. So dishonest. It harms kids because it is a disincentive for the administration to improve. "Don't change anything if it aint broken" is the axiom in our district and the administration is loathe to change anything. No--let's not make the curriculum more rigorous because that will put their rating in jeopardy, and in turn they'll have a harder time convincing residents to increase their funding. Tell the public that everything is superb--cannot possibly be improved--and bogus awards like the Newsweek award enable them to continue the charade.

  26. Anonymous,

    60% of the students in Olentangy FAIL AP courses?? Can you direct me to where that information is located?

    Please don't be angry, notice I said DON'T think you are a self-righteous blowhard.


    P.S.- The "anecdotal" information I was referring to was your brushstroking of all teachers and their planning/recess/lunch responsibilities based on your experience, which could not possibly reflect a sufficient sample to form an honest opinion of anything more than the folks whom you observed.

  27. Musicman--I didn't brush stroke anything. We have hourlies that do lunchroom, playground--and now study hall--duties. I didn't cast aspersions about our teachers, other than they have successfully negotiated-down the number of hours they do actual work significantly--at the expense of the taxpayer, who has to pick up the tab of all of these additional hourlies. All of these changes were, of course, in the pursuit of increasing student achievement. The formula the teachers advertised was easy: more teacher time spent on planning = more enriching educational outcome.

    As far as our kids' performance in AP courses I got that from a board member who got the stats from the director of curriculum. Acknowledging the high failure rate he still justified ill-prepared students taking AP courses as good preparation for college, nontheless. No doubt these students are part of the Remediation statistic.

    I suggest you contact your curriculum director and get your AP grade-stats. Get the raw data, of course.

  28. LOLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!!!

    I thought I'd take a peek at Hilliard myself and--how typical—your dopey treasurer prepares a CAFR, too. Mind you, the CAFR is not required by the state and you pay probably $40,000 or so to create it (having consultants doing it, of course).

    Get a gander of page 18 of the attached press release from GFOA (Government Finance Officers Association) bestowing the "Award for Financial Reporting Excellence" to your treasurer, Mr. Wilson. Note that the title of the award reads "Reporting"...because it is awarded on the basis of the FORMAT of the CAFR, and not the quality or effectiveness of Mr. Wilson’s management of your districts treasury.

    The GFOA is the national trade group for government accounting professionals, which includes our school district treasurers,--as well as the Pentagon bean counters who used to bill us $800 for toilet seats. I wonder if they used to have a program back in the 80’s called the CRAPR. Less I digress…

    Here’s the CAFR 2007 award recipients. Hilliard is on page 18:

    Even better, there's a glossy page dedicated to Hilliard receiving this bogus award on page xii of your latest CAFR:

    I have no doubt that Mr. Wilson puts that meaningless award on his resume and, in part, justifies his contract renewals and pay raises on it.

    Ask Mr. Wilson who the auditor was (it's not a serious audit--none of them are--because the auditors know that their clients expect a rubber stamp and, let's face it, nobody pays attention--not the taxpayers and not the state) and just how much the consultant did to prepare the CAFR. Actually, to make it even easier...just ask Wilson what he did on that 125 page report. I bet very, very little other than just supplying the numbers to the “auditor” (CPA lapdog) and his design consultant.

    Then ask him who he hired to compile the report for submittal. The consultants who prepare the CAFR have made this a cottage industry. They know the data and formatting requirements to create a successful submittal to the GFOA.

    But the most insidious thing about all of this is why the CAFR is even produced. It is not Demand driven (who in the community asks for it, much less is aware of it…still less would understand it?), and it’s not even a state requirement, but a lot of money is spent to produce it. So, then, why is the CAFR produced? Because it’s an easy way for an impressive lie to be told for the personal gain of Hilliard administrators. The treasurer hires consultants to create this glossy, impressive financial deck which is very crisp in execution. Because the CAFR is so professional in appearance it reflects positively on the “tight ship” the treasurer is running, which adds to the image of professionalism and fine management of his department—the Treasurer benefits from this. And it’s recognition by an impressive sounding government agency that Hilliard manages the public’s tax dollars effectively—both the treasurer and superintendent benefit from this.

    Go to central office the next time your CAFR is released and you’ll see boxes of them in the lobby waiting for residents to get a copy, who will never come. Because nobody understands the nature of the award one is usually imp

    But worst of all about this—and this is where your dopey treasurer has one-up on Olentangy—is that he pays consultants additional thousands of dollars to prepare ANOTHER useless GFOA-concocted document in order to collect ANOTHER award!!! In fact, he states that, ““We are especially proud of the Outstanding Achievement in Popular Annual Financial Reporting since this was our first year to prepare such a report for the public with the goal of making our district’s finances easier to understand.” He says “We” when he should be giving full credit to the consultant who compiled the report, which is just an extract of the CAFR with changes made to it for the purpose of broader public consumption.

    See, this is where motive is established and illustrates just how corrupt your administrators really are.

    The CAFR has been around for years and many districts produce it. Yeah, we know how the game is played: treasurers hire consultants to produce it; the treasurer wins the award; the treasurer gains from it personally in terms of contract renewal, bonuses and higher pay. The superintendent and administration benefit because the meaningless award “proves” the district to have sound fiscal management practices. They put these awards (lies) front-and-center in the levy effort to fool residents into believing that the district manages the public treasury effectively. The levy passes and our benevolent school district employees get to eat cake for the next four years, with higher salaries (and administrators continuing to receive 25.5% retirement benefits).

    But this is different. Your treasurer producing the PAFR report is really something. While the CAFR has become somewhat of a staple for school districts to produce, the PAFR (Popular Annual Financial Reporting) is not a staple; in fact it’s a program mostly for municipalities, and only a relative few school districts do it. There is no demand for the PAFR (ask him to show you a single request for it from the public), and no practical reason to produce it. The difference between the motive for the CAFR and PAFR can be illustrated by this analogy: You have two dog owners: One buys a dog because everyone in the neighborhood has one. The other owner buys a dog for no other reason than to put it in dog shows and win ribbons. Yeah, the CAFR is used to win awards, but many school districts do it and it’s become a regular, annual report to produce. But the reason for producing a PAFR is really only to win an award. You already have the CAFR—why do you need the PAFR? Oh, yeah…to win another award with minimal additional effort, since it’s pretty much an extract of the CAFR for general public consumption.

    You be the judge. Attached below are links to both the CAFR and PAFR features checklists that the GFOA judges use to appraise each districts submittal. The awards for each are based on successful adherence to the features checklists.


    While you review these checklists remember that the documents that are being judged along these criteria are props used by your district as proof that they manage your tax dollars responsibly and effectively.

  29. My last posting may have been too self righteous or "blowhard-y" for Musicman's tastes so I figured I'd supply him a "PAFR" version of it for his benefit:

    The "Excellence in Financial Reporting" award from the GFOA for the CAFR is not a recognition of how well a district manages its finances, but rather an award that is based on the aesthetics and content of a single report, created by consultants at taxpayer expense.

    The "Outstanding Achievement in Popular Annual Financial Reporting" award for the PAFR is just an embarrassment. Your treasurer should be put on the spot about that one.

    He should be made to produce the cost of creating and printing the CAFR and PAFR.

  30. Anonymous (MUST we still use that name?) said:
    "As far as our kids' performance in AP courses I got that from a board member who got the stats from the director of curriculum."

    That isn't good enough for me. I want to see in WRITING where 60% of your students are failing AP classes. Getting it from someone who got it from someone sounds a little too much like the "Telephone Game" to me.

  31. Think we have teachers union issues? The City Hall/ UFT saga in Zoo York is the worst in the nation. There are flare-ups just about every week.

    Two weeks ago at a NY City Council hearing on the city's charter schools, members were caught taking cue cards from UFT lobbyists on which questions were written to ask the charter school officials.

    The Big Dirty Apple is corrupt to it's rotten core from the UFT.

    For a real eye opener, look at the stats for Head Start. Since it's founding in 1965 there has been a 65% increase in enrollment, but a 7,000% increase in appropriation.
    One cannot make this stuff up. And this passes for "a public good". Indeed. Even when adjusted for inflation the out-of-control growth is still obscene. It's so bad that it doesn't even deserve that courtesy.

    Worse, drop out rates in the areas where Head Start is most active have never been higher. Detroit has a 78% drop out rate, with NYC, Cleveland and other big cities not far behind. One has to wonder if Head Start is actually hurting those kids.

    Scroll to the bottom to see the historical enrollment and funding stats:

  32. This was information that was shared with the board, in session.

    MM--I'm not asking you to accept anything I post. Take it or leave it--you're the last person on this board I need to prove anything to.

  33. Anonymous,

    You don't have to prove anything to me. I just don't believe that 60% of students in the Olentangy Local School District who take an AP class receive an "F". I don't believe it.

  34. Probably a mistake to engage in this dialog, but in the case of AP classes, it's not so much getting an "E" (or "F" or whatever), as it is failure to score high enough on the exam to get actual AP credit - right? I suppose a school might give you a passing grade for an AP class even if you don't get 4/5 on the exam.

  35. If you worked in any other field of business and had a signed contract for services, would you accept that your customer just says - "sorry I'm out low on money and you and your crew have to still do your job but accept less pay than what we originally agreed upon"?

    Why should it be any different for teachers who have signed to a multi-year contract and agreed to the terms of the contract with a 3% raise?

    Why aren't you discussing the real issue with the HEA (and other unions for that matter) - hiring and firing should not be based on seniority.

  36. Looks like I flipped my "pass" vs. "fail" numbers. Here are Olentangy's AP stats:

    65% of Olentangy students taking AP courses scored a 3 (minimum passing) or better.

  37. The problem with the whole AP thing is that scoring is based on a curve, not a set standard. The students are scored against each other, with score stratification set according to frequency.

    So, the ends are benchmarked to the highest and lowest achievers in a particular class or course.

    So a tester who scored a "3" in a course that included particularly high achieving-students would have likely scored a "4" or a "5" in that course with lower achieving students.

    It's so squirrely that a lot of colleges won't accept AP credits, or some will accept AP credits of those who scored a "5". This to ensure that, at least, the student was relatively high achieving.

    But the biggest problem I have is this: 62% of Olentangy seniors took AP courses in 2008. Of those, 34% failed (ie. "they're not ready to take college level-coursework).

    If an AP course is a college level-course (and that's really streatching it) then what does that say about how well we prepare our students for college?

    I don't have a EdD and I can see the issues, between AP stats and the Remediation stats. Hello???

  38. Paul,

    That is what I was thinking he "meant", but that isn't what he "said." Some universities give credit for a 3, but most only for 4 or 5. I certainly wouldn't call a 3 failing.

    As with the remediation rate, I think it foolish to look at these numbers as the ONLY way to measure effectiveness. They are telling, but they are not ALL-telling.

  39. Anon said:If you worked in any other field of business and had a signed contract for services, would you accept that your customer just says - "sorry I'm out low on money and you and your crew have to still do your job but accept less pay than what we originally agreed upon"?Good grief - where have you been?

    This is exactly what's going on everywhere in the private sector. Every seller of products and services in this country is being pressured by his customers to lower prices - contracts be damned.

    As the seller, you can choose to play hard ball and tell your best customers that, nope, they have to pay the full agreed-upon price, regardless of the pain it causes the customer. But if you do so, it's probably the last sale you'll ever make to that customer. And it will become part of your reputation.

    Labor rates and commodity prices are being reset across the globe right now. Those who think they are insulated from this event will be very much surprised.

    I think the smart sellers and service providers understand what's going on in our economy, and will initiate the dialog with their customers rather than avoid it.

    I don't disagree with you that the notion of tenure, and the great difficulty in firing non-performers is a fundamental problem. But I'm not sure why in one breath you seem to be saying we should honor the salary increase provisions of the teachers' contract, but in the next advocate dumping the seniority/tenure provisions.

    I've written before about the bold proposal made by Michelle Rhee, the superintendent of the Washington DC schools. She wanted to give the teachers a substantial raise in exchange for waiving tenure. The young teachers were all for it, but the senior teachers rallied against it.

    Little is going to change in the relationship with the teachers' union until the younger teachers quit letting the older teachers dictate their future.

    Given the choice between holding salaries constant for a year, or laying off young teachers, the union leadership has shown that they'll choose the latter.


  40. Musicman says:

    "That is what I was thinking he "meant", but that isn't what he "said." Some universities give credit for a 3, but most only for 4 or 5. I certainly wouldn't call a 3 failing.

    As with the remediation rate, I think it foolish to look at these numbers as the ONLY way to measure effectiveness. They are telling, but they are not ALL-telling."

    A "3" isn't failing, but it's the equivalent of a "C"--which is "Fair"--not "Good"--and statistically the bell curve of this group swells in the mid 70's to low 80's. By senior year of high school one would hope that students would be more prepared to take college level-courses...and only 62% of had the confidence to take AP courses. How would the balance of that population have fared?

    Gee--if high school students' results from taking college level-courses, and the actual statistics that colleges supply the Board of Regents that detail the high failure rates of incoming freshman on entrance exams are not "telling", then what is?

    Musicman--tell us: What measurements of preparedness for college do you think are "ALL telling"?

  41. Read the link I posted earlier about NYC teachers at KIPP asking to separate from the UFT. They're happier in an "at will" work environment because they see the results of their labor, and can get rid of morale-sapping bad teachers.

  42. 2/3rds of school issues passed yesterday despite the worst recession in recent memory. Unfortunately that's not likely to create much of a sense of urgency for the Hilliard district and its champagne tastes.

  43. Worthington went down in flames--shocked. And it went down convincingly.

  44. Eire:

    The media does a disservice with stats like that. Most renewal levys pass because they don't involve a large increase in current taxes. Many levys are for capital improvements and those tend to do well. The comparison group for districts like Worthington in this election cycle would be those districts that are seeking new, permanent property taxes. Statewide, they didn't do much better than Worthington.

    You can view school district results statewide here:

    In a normal year, the standard approach would be to go right back on the ballot. This is not a normal year. I hope we (Worthington) take the time to assess whether our defeat was caused by the economy or whether our voters have simply hit the wall. It's probably a combination of the two.

  45. Regarding the comment about $70 per 100,000 target as next levy - Where are you getting this number? Is your position as a PAC going to be to just pull a nice round number out of your tookus that sounds like it might fly with voters? We need to be talking about cost control and cuts long before we start talking levy. We need to decide what we need, not what we'd like to have. And a bond issue? With a stagnant student population, why in the world would we need a bond levy? Perhaps the commenter is speaking only for himself, but I hope your PAC isn't going to turn out to be just more of the same "let's have a levy every 2 years" from fresh new faces. My prediction has always been that in Feb 2010, after the new school board is seated, a new levy will be proposed, "gotta have it, can't live without it", no matter who wins the election. Hopefully folks aren't already bandying around what the price point is going to be. JMHO.

  46. I have come up with a palatable 70.00 per hundred thousand, so with a median house of 200,000 140.00 per year over a minimum 3 year period.

    There are going to be cost increases to deal with and I am not going to stick my head in the sand
    and say we wont have a slight new contribution. I am consistent in believeing that ALL of us should contribute. All of us should understand that with current City Council and Mayoral priorities,
    we will see another influx of new housing. The land is zoned, water access etc all ready to go.
    More students will mean more expenditures.

    Unfortunatly I have no confidence
    that we will see anything like I have proposed a 2.5 to 3% increase
    in spending growth targets. Unlike the masses I have made my proposals to the board, spoken up, much to the detriment of my children in the classroom, and began this journey over 7 years ago when I spoke to at Memorial Middle school. At that time I brought up to the board and our legislators in attendence, where the replacement money for the reduction in business tax contribution was going to come from
    7 years later there is no answer and it is coming from the individual homeowner in a disproportionate fashion

    I remain only slightly hopeful that our board and admin will put the next contract on the table now
    instead of waiting.

    The step raise should be reduced
    to 2% and a regular raise perhaps to 1% with some freezes.

    However, I doubt that this will happen. The HEA will pour thousands of dollars into the board campaign in the fall. I see
    more of the same from our board giving out 7% increases in compensation and minimal heatlth contributions.

    I also see no changes to contract language that allows the HEA to work to the contract and deny students their right to access grants, scholarships and other aid
    because the teachers are more important than the kids.

    As far as the bond levy goes, periodically as required by law
    the bond levy, supports spending as far as repairs to infrastructure
    roofs, parking lots, plumbing
    bus purchases, computers, electrical upgrades. We have high usage and things do wear out.
    I would expect a bond issue looking at our balances sometime in 2011 or perhaps 2012 just in time for another operating levy
    in 2012.

    The discussion needs to happen now on future compensation increases.
    Feel confident that the board will
    ignore this, continue to threaten
    cuts in busing, sports, music, extra curriculars etc. taking the cuts out of 10% of the budget.

    I dont think anyone in the district has courage to tackle the
    90% factor within the employment compensation area.

    The district, the teachers, OAPSE
    HEA and their supporters are quick to single out the taxpayers as selfish, uncaring about education

    All the while they are filling their pockets with 7% increments

    Anon, I have spoken publicly about all of this on the record.

    Where the hell is everyone else.

    The district with it head in the sand attitude is baiting the public to formalize an organized opposition. You rally the seniors, fixed income group, those without children, those who are on disability, have lost jobs taken pay cuts, et all and say why are you voting to raise someones salary 7% when you are getting nothing. Pretty simple, pretty hard hitting.

    Educate Worthington did a great information piece for the election
    and the electorate responded.

    I have no issue for you naysayers
    muscicman, who say we dont care about the kids and their education
    as no increases in spending is not
    realistic either.

    Tired of hearing you dont get it , tired of the smokescreen of its about the kids, tired of hearing people should move

    This district its employees and union leadership have slapped the community in the face The communities financial support in compensation, benefits, work environment, days off, planning time, medical contribution

    (please 25.00 a month for medical coverage !) and that is not enough for our employees not to threaten to go on strike0) is substantial and has been consistent

    Open letter to the HEA leadership
    the board, the administrators and
    their supporters. Why do you disrespect the very community who have provided an excellent vehicle to educate our children

  47. Bravo, Rick. (pssst--everone: he GETS IT).

    I hate to say this, but one really doesn't understand the issue unless one becomes indignant with the information s/he has learned. And one does not become an agent for change until s/he becomes angry about it.

    Unless and until you become disgusted and resentful (not HATEFUL, Musicman--there is a difference) with what is going on you cannot claim to understand the issue and you will not do that which is necessary to change it.


  48. Rick,

    The more you right, the more:

    1) I agree with you, you are a very wise man who has put a lot of rational thought into this.

    2) I am turned off by your disrespect for people, like myself, who put the interests of students above their own.

    The bottom line is this: The business of a school district is KIDS. When levies are defeated, KIDS suffer. Is it right? No. Are HCSD and HEA at fault? Yes. But does it hurt KIDS?? YES!!!!!!

    I will NEVER EVER EVER vote a levy down, because I can't do that to the kids. It might not be fair, but it IS.

    I know you care about kids Rick, but I am not a fan of tough love when it comes to schools. It is our moral and civil obligation to provide our students with everything we can to give them a chance, to give them better than what we had.

    How DARE we take opportunities away from them because we are mad at HCSD? Could we say the same for HCSD (How dare they?). YES. And we should.

    But we should NEVER take opportunities away from kids, and right our wrong, that is what happens when levies fail.

    I agree with so much of what you say, but your solution to the problem (cutting off funding) will NOT work. Just like cutting off funding to the troops didn't cause a withdrawal in Iraq.

    Our kids deserve everything we've got. They deserve more than our ridiculous adult squabbles that end up costing them opportunities.

    You want to fix the problem? GREAT! Remodel the house without tearing it down first. Tearing it down does us NO good.

    ANY comment about how some students must suffer so the future can be fixed will fall on deaf ears. Our students NOW need us.

    You say so many smart and intelligent things, it makes me wonder how you can then turn around and justify denying kids these opportunities. HCSD may be the shmuckos who are "blackmailing" you, or whatever you want to call it, but you are falling for it.

    Don't our kids deserve better? Aren't we supposed to pay it forward? THIS smacks of "I got mine, now I'm taking my ball and going home."

  49. Musicman:

    I wish I could just jump on board with what you are saying. But I think it's a bit naive.

    I'm not so sure that schools are in the business of educating kids. I think they're primarily in the business of employing teachers, administrators and staff, and secondarily, doling what's left out to suppliers and construction firms.

    That's not so say that there aren't teachers, administrators and staff for whom education is a calling, and whose primary focus is the kids. I'm just saying that the key decision makers in this domain are more focused on the money flow than they are the kids.

    Look, I really love my profession too. I was honored by the opportunity to lead a talented team, and motivated by the opportunity to serve our customers, and earn their trust. I don't think it would have been much different had I earned half as much, or twice as much.

    But that doesn't mean money wasn't in the picture. The willingness of our customers to pay the price we asked determined how much money we all made. And we'd prefer to not leave any money on the table.

    School operating levies are about headcount and compensation - pure and simple. It's not about the price of diesel fuel or how much paper gets wasted.

    And the placing of a school levy on the ballot is nothing more than a negotiation between the school employees and the community. When we pass a levy, we're telling the employees that we're willing to pay what they're asking. When we shoot one down, we're saying we aren't.

    Except that very few people in the community understand that this is what's going on. The administrators and union leaders certainly do. But Joe and Jane Public is largely ignorant of this economic reality, and so vote based on opinions formed from ignorance and personal experience - not on informed analysis.

    I led an organization of nearly 1,000 people scattered across two continents, with a budget over a quarter $billion. Every year, I had to negotiate a new budget with my boss, the President of the company. The way that usually went was that he told me how much more he wanted produced for how much less money. He wasn't some money-hungry evil person - he knew that the constant pressure of competition would continue to drive prices down, and we were going to need to constantly reduce cost to stay in the game.

    He didn't worry about the details - he left it up to me and our team to figure it out. That's because he had no expertise in what our group did (engineering and operations). But he knew we understood why he made this demand, as much as we bitched about the pain it caused, and that we all knew that our individual success depended on the success of the company as a whole.

    Rick is proposing a similar kind of thinking. More of us in the community are growing unhappy with the cost of operating our school system. Rick is suggesting that we tell the leadership - the Board, the Administration, and the unions - to reduce the rate of growth, and let them figure out how. They're the experts not us - we're just saying that the price is too high.

    So far, the response to cost pressure has been to say that the kids will suffer, to cut programs, and to lay off teachers just getting started in their careers.

    Aren't there other, better solutions?

    What if the unions back off on their pay demands in the next contract? How is that going to hurt the kids?

    Will we get an epidemic of teachers quitting to find better jobs? Let them try. There aren't many better teaching jobs out there. That's why we have many times as many applicants as openings.

    The public education system nationwide has become some bizarro world where the kids are pawns, and the real objective has become to suck as much money out of the taxpayers as possible to underwrite the compensation of the whole public education ecosystem.

    The system is becoming unstable, primarily because compensation costs have driven folks to their limits. The education world wants to fix that by turning all taxation and compensation decisions over to the state (or federal) government, and taking all choice away from local communities.

    The other scenario is what we're going to see played out in South Western City Schools. It will start by punishing kids and parents by canceling programs, and sacrificing the young teachers. The school leadership is betting that they'll be able to bully the community into paying more taxes.

    I hope it galvanizes the people of SWCS. I'd start by telling the employees that they're all going to get a 10% pay cut, starting immediately, and that money is going to be used to restore programming and services (e.g. extra-curricular activities).

    Then we'll find out if it's all about the kids...

  50. Musicman--your new name is now "Mars Man" because you must be living on another planet.

    I've said it before, and I'll say it again: its' people like you who are to blame for the fortress mentality that exists between communities and their school districts. You, and those denialists like you, conflate "higher spend" with "higher achievement". I saw Paul refer to Michelle Rhee in another post. I watched her on CSPAN a couple months back speak at a summit for education reform. She mocked and dismatled, with facts and personal experience, the staid thinking by the education lobby that spend and achievement are mutually inclusive, and increase proporationally to one another. They do not.

    The finest minds this country produced did not have computers--they had books. They did not have $3,000 Smartboards--they had chalkboards. They did not have tens of millions of dollars of frivolous accoutrements posing as serious curricula. Or sports, or six choirs, or four ceramics courses, or three jewelry courses. And one doesn't have to go that far back. If you went back fifty years you'd see an education so alien to what we see today that it would be unrecognizable.

    Rick is the voice of reason on this, and it is you who is irrational.

  51. Mars Man--If I were you I'd skip this post. The thought of your head exploding is too much for me to take, so I'm warning you now.

    Paul, Rick, other reasonable people: It is not enough to show that teachers are receiving 7% raises each year to get your community on board. You really have to destroy the premises (lies) that your district has been able to prop up that have become hardened orthodoxy over time due to having never been challenged. You really need to stop being so polite toward your district administration, and so deferential to the teachers. And this begins with the predictable beginning of your next post, "Even though they provide an excellent--" [STOP!!!!!]

    Because the concept of Value Product is so alien, and Measureable Results is so anathema, to the public education industry they and their proxies (PTA, Board) fight tooth and nail to keep the debate away from logic and commonsense and at the level of smoke and mirrors.

    You will never win your argument unless you bring the debate down to the level of ROI, and you will never begin to do this unless you destroy their base premises that higher pay, more spending on professional development, lower teacher ratios, etc. result in higher achievement; that you dare not rock the boat with respect to teacher and administrator pay, lest you want an exodus of "excellent teachers and administrators", and other fearmongering hackney. And, most important of all, you have to be willing to debase their argument that they are providing a top flight education. It is fact that they are not.

    People will rationalize paying high prices for things they believe are of high quality. Only when you smash the illusion that your community is getting a top shelf product in their kids' education will they begin to listen to you.

    That's why talking about the high remediation rates and poor AP performance is important. Those challenge the fortress premise that our kids are receiving an "Excellent with Distinction" education. They are not--Ohio colleges and universities have told us this for years that our kids are not receiving a high quality education, and our school districts have kept this dirty little secret from us while shoving their grubby hands in our faces for more and more money. It's a scandal and an outrage.

    Only when you begin to slay these sacred cows--and others--, and shout these truths from the mountaintop will your community follow your lead.

  52. Not sure what makes me smile more:

    -The COMPLETE dismissal of my opinion by Anonymous, brought full circle with a string of insults,


    -The COMPLETE dismissal of my statements AGREEING with you.


    -I agree that things need to change.
    -I agree that unions are not the answer.
    -I agree that the compensation model must change.
    -I agree there are bad teachers.
    -I agree there is probably waste.
    -I agree school districts need to be accountable to their consituency.

    I also think that:
    -Our children are our future.
    -They deserve better then to get stuck in the middle.
    -Them being stuck is the fault of BOTH sides, community included.
    -Too many people vote no because they can, not because they have a legitimate reason.
    -YOUR school administrators are infinitely more intelligent than you give them credit for


    -I will always do EVERYTHING in my power to give more opportunities. If my school district tells me they need more; I give more. If I thought they were doing things wrong, I would work to change them WITHOUT affecting opportunities for students.

    You have all become complicit in this tragedy by doing your part to deny opportunities to students. The districts have done their part, as we speak of at length on this board.

    Paul, to say school districts #1 priority is not teaching students is naive at best, and incredibly disrespectful to the people who work hard to do so every day.

    I think I am about done here. We no longer debate respectfully, acknowledge the validity of one anothers ideas, or really LISTEN to anything other than what we want to hear. I have learned a lot from many on here (Paul, Rick, KJ,Anonymous), but have also learned that there is not room on this board for another opinion.

    The truth is schools are about kids, AND that communities reap what they sow. I'm going to go teach kids tomorrow, unfortunately in a school district that has chosen not to value its' students. Because it IS about kids. ALWAYS. To say it is anything less is to completely miss the point, to fail to see the forest through the trees.

    You may not like how things are. So change it. But change it for the better. Cutting doesn't help kids. Removing opportunities doesn't help kids. They aren't widgets or doodads, for pete's sake, and you are NOT shareholders. They are human beings, and you are a community, and you have a moral obligation to support your youth. This isn't a publicly traded company, where you can sell your shares if you are unhappy. Everywhere you move there are young people, and they deserve an education. We owe it to them.

    And with that, I am off to Mars, or my dream world, or wherever it was I was supposed to be living. Thanks Paul for a bit of your web space over the past year or so, sorry to fill it with thoughts of bettering the world, and not just our pocket books.

    Still smiling though, because I get to go teach tomorrow! :0)

  53. Musicman:

    I understand your frustration with the name-calling. Because of your suggestion that I let other more obnoxious stuff (pointed at me) through, I allowed whoever this Anonymous is to make his point. I won't allow that tone to continue however.

    I believe that you are a teacher who loves your vocation, and who is motivated both by how it makes you feel, and the satisfaction of knowing that you are making a difference for the kids. And I believe most teachers share your motivations.

    My target is, and will always be, those who are using good-hearted folks like you to further their ambitions - which is to take as much money out of my pocket, and those of the other taxpayers, as they can get. They're taking one of the most beautiful concepts in our country - access to education for all - and turning into a con game. That's what politics in America has become - a con game.

    I understand your love of teaching - it's the best part of what I do as well. I'm doubly envious that you get to teach music, as does my daughter. You are blessed if you can move through your career without having to deal with this dark stuff.

    But it's there, and it's eating up our communities. The battle to restore balance won't be pretty or painless. Some kids may get caught in the crossfire, as will be case of those in SWCS next year.

    That's the reason I supported our last levy in Hilliard - because the Board and Administration decided to hold the kids hostage. It is my intention to not allow that to happen again.

    Hope to see more from you.


  54. Paul,

    It isn't the attacks that bother me; I have been called MUCH worse in my day! It is the unwillingness to listen to others that makes me question my place here. I will surely continue to read, and may post occasionally, but will not be engaging in debate any longer.


  55. musicman,

    I admire your passion and viewpoints you bring to this forum, and will miss them if you decide to go silent.

    I certainly hope there are more teachers of your feelings in our systems than not. However, until enough of you band together and realize that you have direct impact on saving some of the programming that is being dropped by acknowledging the unsustainable spending trajectory and agreeing to reduced increases in the future, we are heading to a terrible collision as SWCS is experiencing. Until I see this type of action in HCSD (I realize you are not in the HEA), I will take the "it's for the kids" message with a grain of salt.

    I'm sure a minor decrease in raise or step would have saved the drama program recently dropped in HCSD.

  56. Musicman--I mean no disrespect, really and honestly. And it's not for fun's sake, as we both have better things to do. If I wanted to do nothing more than to insult anyone on this board I would do that instead of trying to appeal (and repeatedly so) to yours, or anyone else's, sensibilities.

    It's not a matter of me "not hearing you". I do. My frustration is that you refuse to acknowledge the facts that I, and others, have presented here that prove what I have stated. contradict yourself repeatedly in your own post to Paul, which leads me to believe that you really don't know what you believe.

    You write:

    "-I agree that things need to change."
    Then you write a few paragraphs down, "If I thought they were doing things wrong, I would work to change them WITHOUT affecting opportunities for students."

    Then you write, "The districts have done their part, as we speak of at length on this board."

    The districts DO NOT do their part. This is not my opinion, this is statistical FACT, and it is measureable in at least two objective ways amply presented on this board. Note that I did not state "...debated on this board" because there is no debate. The facts are what they are. It is probably because you are a teacher that you are unwilling to acknowledge these truths.

    If spending were the key to a quality public education then we would have the finest, highest scoring students on the global comparison charts. But we do not--and Hilliard, and Olentangy, and virtually all public school districts are components of these comparisons. For the amount of funds we allocate for our public education our results are abysmal--every international analysis and tracking entity has posted these results, year after year, showing American students lagging far behind their contemporaries in "wealthy" countries and scoring behind or tying with their counterparts from Third World countries. And, right here at home we have Ohio colleges and universities telling us, year after year, that our school districts are sending masses of graduates to their schools unprepared. The results of this are devastating to students, and finaciall burdensome to their parents.

    One can't change something unless, A.) One sees it, and B.) One acknowledges that change must be affected. Musicman--you haven't even gotten to "A".

    Out of deference to Musicman's place on this blog--because he has posted here far longer than I have--I will no post or visit, if that will keep him here.


  57. One last parting shot--

    Hilliard received a condescending, honorable mention in an email that shows the all-too-common deceit of school district administrations. The superintendent and--looks like--the treasurer of New Albany have been caught in a secret email exchange with consultants--and the former Olentangy Minister of Information--scheming on how to strongarm New Albany to pass the levy. Sickening.

    Word to Paul--you make damn sure that none of these consultants are employed by your school district. They are scum.

    Love him or hate him, Fedako is an effective SOB.


  58. I agree with much of what is discussed on here. And while I choose to read more than post these days, I think it’s prudent from time to time to interject some “basics”. I also have a few general comments in response to some of the discussion here.

    First, I am the spouse of a teacher, for those that are new. And I am 100% in agreement that the growth rate of our district spending needs to be reduced greatly if we are to survive. I believe all Columbus suburban districts are heading for a implosion if things don’t change.

    I understand that 87% or more of our funding goes to personnel costs (classroom teachers, special teachers, administrators, etc) and that looking to save significant dollars in the remaining 13% of the budget is a lot like trying to salvage the Federal Government by cutting President Obama’s Tailor bill (I don’t know where it came from, I just make this stuff up). Anyone with an ounce of education and common sense knows that the bulk of savings has to come from the biggest piece of the expenditure pie.

    With that said, there are some subtle things that get missed when we speak in generalities about the “90%” of our tax dollars that go to personnel. Only roughly 45% of our budget goes to classroom teachers. The balance goes to intervention teachers, ELL specialists, special education teachers, etc.

    Why do I point this out? Do I think we should continue to pay teachers increases that range from 3 to 7% a year? The answer is simply, no. However, slowing the rate of salary growth is only one portion of the solution. The rate at which non-classroom teacher positions has grown since 1998 (over 154%) is astronomical and has played a significant role in the personnel costs of the district over the past 10 years.

    So, why do we have all of these teachers? One poster lamented of “our day” when we only had chalkboards and books. What happened to those “good old days”? Well, back in that day we didn’t have an influx of non-english speaking students, we didn’t have “special education” as we define it today, there was no such things as an IEP, and on and on. My point is, the landscape of education has changed drastically in the past 30, even 20 years. For better and for worse.

    My point is that the growth rate of our current payroll is not just in the 3 to 7% increases our teacher’s enjoy but also in the number of “teachers” we now have as a result of either changing need (ELL teachers) and/or changing approach to education (intervention specialists). We currently have approximately 250 non-traditional classroom teachers in our district compared to approximately 750 traditional classroom teachers. That means for every THREE traditional classroom teacher in our district, we have ONE auxiliary teacher (tutor, intervention, ELL, counselor, psychologist, etc). Folks, that’s A LOT! 25% of our “teacher” payroll is comprised of what many of us would consider, non-traditional teachers. Meaning, 20 or 30 years ago we wouldn’t have seen these positions on a district payroll.

    So, what I question (and I’m certainly not certified to answer) is why do we have so many of these positions? Obviously if a child can’t speak English, we have to teach them the language, right? If we don’t, then these students bring down our all-important test scores (no exemptions folks) and then out district and staff get berated for poor performance and our state dollars are in jeopardy. What about all of these IEP’s? These are specialized education plans that the district, by law, MUST provide to a qualifying student. This is where the intervention specialist, tutors, etc come in. Granted, SOME of these positions are paid by grant, but most are not. Are we spending too much on the bottom 20%? Is this the all-to-often crime of putting 80% of our resources to only 20% of the enterprise? Heck, does it even help? Think back to your school days…. How many kids ever really moved up the class standings? Wasn’t the bottom third always the bottom third? Are we sinking money into a lost cause by having all of these IEP’s? We COULD just let our accomplished students stay in school and our costs would go down and our aggregate scores would go up. Problem solved, Right? Some would say this is a good idea! However, who pays for the uneducated? WE do!; only in a different social form (welfare, etc).

    Before anyone jumps me for being elitist, I AM NOT advocating we leave any child behind. I am, however, pointing out that our approach to education has changed dramatically, and thus the cost of educating has gone up. Is it working? Personally, I don’t think so. I’m sorry, but I do think we are spending too much money on teaching English to kids who can’t speak it. I think we have too many IEP’s (c’mon, many are needed, but it’s a bit overkill these days), and what was once behavior handled by discipline, we now have entire programs and staffs to deal with disruptive children incapable of handling group education.

    Paul talks about the Perfect Storm…. And I agree. But one component of the “storm” that gets little press is the change in our educational philosophy. Honestly, I think that is a reflection of our societal mindset (the collective “us”) than the act of a rogue union, bureaucratic administration, or inept school board.

    It’s just something to think about folks. We spend a lot of time beating on a lot of specifics that we really don’t understand. I thought it was time that we look at different numbers in a different way.

    Do we need to reduce the spending rate? YES.
    Do we need to teach non-English speaking students? YES
    Are we better off with IEP’s and Intervention? I think so, but am not qualified to assess.

    We should, and can, reduce the rate of salary growth. But that won’t get us where we need to be all by itself. Once that particular problem is fixed, our funding problems will NOT go away. I’ve been clear on this since I started posting on this blog. This is a much bigger issue than a “correction” to compensation. Granted, it’s the FIRST step and the immediate step to take. But once this is fixed, the fight to save education in America and the struggle to fund it will continue. To this point, I agree 100% with Musicman….. We can’t blow up the factory because the light bill is too high. With no factory, what have we left? It’s a pay now or pay later situation. The question we have to answer is how much and for what will we pay? And what is the cost of not meeting the call? To use the business speak so many of us love to throw around this blog…Risk of doing nothing must always be included in an ROI analysis. That means, what’s the down road cost of NOT investing?

  59. TJ: Thanks for the info. I do find value in much of what Fedako digs up, I just wish he didn't place it in such a caustic wrapper.

    KJ: Thanks for the thoughtful post. You are indeed correct that there's more to all this than just employee salaries. For those who haven't seen it before, here is a chart which shows employee growth by job classification. To KJ's point, the number of regular classroom teachers-to-student ratio has remained at 20:1 for the last decade. It's all the other positions which have grown.

    We have to re-evaluate how many of these are necessary.


  60. KJ, points well taken. I do not believe for one minute that anyone wants to blow up the district at any point.
    The community again supported a significant increase in support in November. I expect another levy in Feb of next year and and operating levy. Again it is forgotten, just ask for more and more and come up more lame excuses why things are what they are

    While I totally agree that the funding issue will not completely go away, I think we have to start someplace. This district and its employees are not going to give up the 7% cash cow, the premium time off, the out of control minimal contribution to their medical benefits.

    The district was asked as we got deep intothis recession to give somethought to a reduction in growth, NOT a reduction in spendiing 3% growth on our huge budget would STILL be substantial

    What we got is silence. What we get is ridicule. They should be planning now to make the adjustments. They will use the excellent with distinction and the threat of cutting sports, music et all again, and they will bully the public again to cave to their
    7% demands. And when you dont agree with them they paint you as anti education which is just total crap.

    I started talking about this subject over 20 years ago in another district, and in this district 8 years ago. Nothing changes, we just have to pay more.

    I have no sympathy for the teachers and the other employee unions in our district as they have supported not only locally
    but at the statehouse with huge campaign contributions. They have a lot of clout, they have failed, but yet the community gets blamed for not anteing up when the district and employees TELL us to.

    They can work to the contract and deny benefits to students that they need to cover college costs, buthide behind their demogagory
    about it being about the kids

    I am willing to provide more funds
    due to our growth, but before that commitment comes, there needs to be a drastic reduction in the growth of compensation. Now some idiot out there will read this
    and call that a cut, which is just stupid.

    Lets face it, the district and its employees could care less until it is levy time and contract time

    The first step, with NO other consideration is to move to a slower rate of increases. Note did not say cuts. I keep hearing all this elitist crap that everyone here in Hilliard can afford whatever the district, the teachers and OAPSE want, That too is garbage. Many people are struggling but I will get back the median income Govt stats, well
    how about getting real. KJ do you still believe everyone is getting
    even 3% raises, Some of us would just like not to get another cut.
    Those on fixed incomes who thought they could stay in their homes once paid off, wonder if they can
    Two income families who have both lost their jobs wonder too. But too many of you dont see this as reality.

    Cut your cell phones, cut your cable, dont take a 1 day vacation
    Dont like it move out. Why should an elderly person, fixed income who allways supported levies, and are now struggling be told that.
    There are a good many here in Hilliard, and even if it only 1 which is not the case but there seems to be disbelief that there are people struggling

    If all the "so called " concerned
    and good teachers really cared they would stand up now and
    show they are willing to make adjustments to help continue
    our educational programs here.

    At some point we will face the same challenges that Southwestern is having, and Worthington has a group showing a spending issue, not a revenue issue.

    In the meantime we all will have to pay more, and more and more

    Enjoy your 7% household pay raise
    and minimal medical payment.
    Lots of time off, snow days, planning time. At somepoint the bank will be broke and the community will be tapped.

  61. Rick, I can't tell if your rant was meant to be aimed at me, or if you just happened to use my name and gave he appearance of such,

    However, if you are implying that

    1) I don't think we need to cut raises,

    2) think I am voting FOR another levy without concessions, or

    3) you think my spouse is one of these "greedy, good for nothing" teachers you keep talking about....

    You are DEAD wrong.

    Before you reply, I encourage you to read any, and every, post I've ever written on this site. And if you can find ANYWHERE where I have said that we shouldn't reduce the spend rate in this district or that I will support another levy without such.... please provide it to me and I will personally (and I'm serious) pay your school portion of 2010 property taxes. I'm a man of my word, and I promise you, I WILL pay them. Afterall, my wife's a teacher... we can certainly afford it.

    You either mispoke, can't read, or are so angry you can't see what's right in front of you.

    I have said, many many many times (I even said it in my previous post, THAT...

    1) We MUST reduce the growth rate of district salaries, and

    2) that I WOULD NOT support the next levy without certain concessions by the dsitrict (teachers, admin, and board).

    I even wrote a letter on this site, and sent it to ALL district leaders, stating such.

    I think this is where others get the impression that you are unwilling to read or hear others. You state the same over and over... rarely adding anything new and tend to reply without truly reading what was read. It grows tiring man...

    At least many of the people you berate try to bring new thought and solutions to the discussion. Honestly, you don't ever need to post again... it's the same post over and over. We get it!

  62. KJ, parting words

    Glad you have written one letter and made a few appearances publicly

    Not sure about the anger and greedy part, one calls it as it is. The facts not fiction are minimal
    contributions to medical, 7% raises
    and the teachers still almost did not pass it. A teacher whom I know well said it was in the neighborhood
    of 54 to 46 So if you want to call that out that is ok.

    Just for the rest of you, as KJ and his minions have stated clearly their wishes, before I acquise to their invitation to get out, at Tuesdays meeting I spoke to the following

    1. Have we at all considered a proposal made 6 months ago
    to limit our spending growth
    Silence.... and that is what it sounds many of you really want along with YOUR board
    2. Asked about remediation rates
    from the Ohio Regents report \
    Got blasted after the meeting by
    Dale, for not including we were making progress. ! Sorry 20% remediation in a District with
    high standing is a ...........
    3. Asked about supplemental contracts and couldnt we save some money in this area , and possibly fund some of the other programs cut
    Hello Musicman, ! perhaps like
    your music in the elementary and middlle school I digress as I asked about the theatre program
    cutbacks. Were told there were none, and it was misinformation

    So why did all those kids show up at the board meeting

    So keep on keepin on ! Keep giving the board and the district everything they want, have zero courage to be CONSISTENT in showing
    up and calling them out when needed

    You have a significant bond issue
    brought up, and nobody with the exception of Dave Lundegren even comments. And the answer is............. Go ask the Treasurer.

    Pardon my thoughts and many others in this community who have consistently voted to support the district. Spare us the supposed attack

    And the beat goes on, with no end in sight, New school operating levy tax, new school bond issue tax
    new columbus income tax, new blue jackets tax, and then we start over

    This is apparently not an issue for some here, but most of us are not getting any increases and are hoping to keep our jobs. For those on fixed income, disablility
    and have lost their job. well the district and its entities say sorry but we want our money, and oh by the way YOU CAN AFFORD IT.

    I would like to ask some questions of the board of what the plan is now for the next contract given the new 5 year very tough forecast.
    we saw tuesday evening.

    I would like to ask the Audit and Accountabliity commitee questions
    about how they view the bond
    sale issue

    I would like to ask the board about
    how the annexation, Homewood deal reallty came out in the end.
    Are we going to have to pay some further hidden costs in hook ups.

    But,,,,,,,,,,,, because it is repetitive, I wont KJ, I will take you up on your offer on the tax payment for my neighbor who lost their job,and is working two retail jobs, with no medical coverage, and trying to sell before foreclosure comes quickly.

    The challenge really is that the same dialogue would not come up, if just for once we got a good and
    accurate answer.

    As Ben Franklin said
    "those that would sacrifice a little liberty, for temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor

  63. I have minions? Do they cut grass or what?

    Rick, once again, you miss the point. And you fail to even see where people agree with you.

    If all you got from my post was that I somehow support continued growth in expenditures, then I can't help you friend.

    Trust me, the dialogue I have had with the district, under my own name, and the personal meetings at central office where I personally discussed my questions and issues are far greater than one simple letter. I have called individuals out and asked questions. I'm not a popular guy at central office, I assure you.

    I do believe I have earned credibility by not only calling for a reduction in pay increases for teachers (or as you would say, my own household.... that is putting my money where my mouth is) but also for the many, yes many, personal letters and emails I've sent to the district leadership, the personal meetings I've called and attended at central office, and for posting on this blog where I have offered new information and certainly learned much more.

    I don't recall offering to pay your neighbor's way, but I certainly stand behind my offer to pay YOUR way in 2010 if you can find a single post that disputes anything I've said regarding the need to reduce the rate of personnel increases.

    I only expanded on the thought that our only issue is "greedy" teachers in that the educational philosophy of the 21st century is far different (not necessarily better, but different) than it was 20 years ago. A large part of our personnel increases are directly related to what I call non-classroom teachers. I believe the district calls them certified staff (someone correct me if I have that wrong). Pay increases have been too high and are in need of being reduced substantially. My point, of my last post, is that reducing the slope of the rate increase for current teachers is only one dial to turn. And in fact, the bigger issue (once contract terms for teachers are "corrected") is that we are growing our staff in disproportionate percentages to the increase in students. This has increased our staff payroll substantially. In fact, only 45% of our currenttax dollars goes to pay for classroom teachers. 55% of our costs go to many positions that frankly weren't even considered when you and I attended. This is being driven by the increased diversification of our district (ELL) and by the number of intervention specialists needed to deal with increased IEP's, behavioral specialists, and the ever-expanding curriculum development positions.

    My point was simple... which you once again missed.

    1) Teachers need to accept a reduced rate of compensation increase

    2) AFTER that occurs, we still face a risk in substantial personnel cost increases just by staff growth alone (ELL, intervention, etc) as we continue to change our educational philosophy in his country and as the needs chage due to diversity.

    3) You tend to not really read or understand when someone is agreeing with you and then accuse them of somehow being "against" you and your cause. Then you attack and use the same, tired arguments.

    I'm sorry you don't like being called out. But you call out people on this blog, teachers in the district, and other members of the public service segment without pause. And you are probably right to do so. But when someone disagrees with you, offers an alternate view, or even AGREES with you that you mistakenly interpret as disagreement...... you call folks out. But you don't like it much when you are called out.

    Anyway, stick around, I think you have your heart in the right place.... just try to be more receptive to others viewpoints and actually doublecheck before posting.... because the hand you bite may actually be agreeing with you.

    Like I said, my contribution and involvement far exceed one letter.... to that you know little about. You shouldn't try to speak from authority on something which you are not fully informed.

    Now, where are these minions and how can I benefit?