Thursday, October 28, 2010

Fordham Institute: Unraveling Constant School Spending Growth

I encourage you to read this excellent article from the Fordham Institute. It succinctly summarizes the key economic issues affecting Ohio's public education system. Our community needs to be talking about this in the next couple of months, before the Board decides - in January - if an operating levy will be on the May ballot, and how large it will be.

We are rapidly running out of road down which to kick the can....

Monday, October 25, 2010

New Five Year Forecast

At tonight’s meeting, the Board of Education approved an update to the Five Year Forecast as published by Treasurer Brian Wilson. Click here for a copy.

I consider the Five Year Forecast to be one of the most important documents published by the Treasurer. It gives the Board, Administration and Employees – and the community – insight as to how the Treasurer sees things going from an economic perspective. Money isn’t the most important thing for a school district to be concerned about, but it’s the gas in our tank. No matter how good the race car, the driver, and the crew, you can’t win the race if you run out of gas.

The fuel strategy is critical for an auto racing team. They have to figure out how to run fast enough to have a chance of crossing the finish line first, but yet not run so fast so as to burn fuel at a rate that forces them to make pit stops for gas too frequently, which costs time and position. It’s impossible to win a race without a good fuel management strategy.

Same thing with a school district and money. Our financial strategy has to be a combination of management of the rate in which we consume cash, the frequency in which we can ask for more (via an operating levy, which takes an emotional toll on the community), and yet staying near the head of the pack in terms of the quality of the educational experience enjoyed by our kids.

Here are the comments I made in regard to this most recent forecast:

Tonight, we are considering the approval of a Five Year Forecast to deal with a technicality* associated with executing the 1 year extension of the contracts with the Hilliard Education Association and OAPSE.

The Board still needs to have a discussion about whether there will be a levy on the ballot in May – I believe there will need to be – what size that levy will need to be, and how it will be structured.

While projected growth in student population is always a concern, I believe that in this next levy cycle the two factors that will be most significant in our planning are – first – how funding by the State of Ohio may change, and – secondly – the pace in which we will allow our spending to grow.

We have little control or even influence over how the leaders of our State will choose to deal with a revenue vs spending gap that is on the order of $8 BILLION in the next State budget. We hope to learn more about how the wind is blowing during the annual meeting of the Ohio School Boards Association in a couple of weeks.

But the rate in which we allow spending to grow IS something we can address within our community. It’s largely a conversation about compensation, benefits, and headcount, and will require all of our stakeholder groups – parents, employees, homeowners, businesses, and the municipal governments – to engage in a well-informed, empathetic and respectful dialog about how to go forward in an economic and political climate that seems destined to shift more and more of the public school funding burden to the suburban communities.

I look forward to having that conversation. The Breakfast with the Board which Lisa has organized is a great opportunity for the people of our community to ask questions and make their views known.

* The technicality is that Ohio law prohibits a School Board from signing a multi-year agreement which spans a year in which the Five Year Forecast projects a negative cash balance. In the prior Forecast, this was the case with FY12, because the one year contract extensions signed by the two unions reach into FY12. Therefore a slight adjustment has been made so as to show the FY12 year end cash balance to be zero.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Breakfast with the Board

(RC 3313.16)

Notice is hereby given; there will be a SPECIAL meeting of the Board of Education of the Hilliard City School District on SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2010 from 9:00 A.M. until 10:30 A.M. located at Hilliard City Schools Administration Annex, 5323 Scioto Darby Road, Hilliard, Ohio. The meeting will be informal conversation in which community members are invited to sit down with board members in a casual setting to share ideas, express concerns or ask questions concerning the school district and no further business will be transacted.

The meeting is called by Brian W. Wilson, Treasurer/CFO of the Hilliard City School District Board of Education, at the direction of the President of said Board.

October 22, 2010


Brian W. Wilson, Treasurer/CFO
Hilliard City School District
Board of Education

Monday, October 11, 2010

OAPSE Contract Extension

At tonight's meeting of the Hilliard Board of Education, the Board voted unanimously to accept an agreement with the members of OAPSE* that will freeze their base pay and step increases for calendar year 2011. During the discussion of the motion, I thanked the OAPSE members for joining the HEA in taking a 'time out' while we all wait to see how our state leaders - whomever they turn out to be - figure out how to deal with the state budget disaster looming before us.

Well done to Superintendent Dale McVey and his team for leading this process.

* Ohio Association of Public School Employees, which in our district represents:
  • Transportation workers: Bus drivers, mechanics, dispatchers and Bus Aides
  • Secretaries
  • Building maintenance workers
  • Custodians
  • Nurse Assistants and Licensed Occupational or Physical Therapy Assistants
  • Various other kinds of assistants
  • Accounting clerks
  • Print shop operators
  • Technicians, including the webmasters, software developers and project managers, systems analysts and database administrators, help desk agents, network techs