Thursday, March 31, 2011

State Funding Cuts - The Other Shoe Has Dropped

I said at the last Board meeting that the State funding cuts could be covered with 1.3 mills of property taxes, and that the rest of the funding needs driving the levy were a matter of local choice.

The latest information from Governor Kasich's Biennium Budget Proposal has rendered this statement incorrect - very much so.

The Ohio Office of Budget and Management has released more detail about the adjustments to the Personal Property Tax (PPT) Reimbursement, which I explained in the earlier article, "A Bullet Dodged."

The cut is significantly larger than expected.

This document explains how the new PPT Reimbursement numbers were derived, which are detailed here. The strategy is that Ohio's school districts would be divided into two categories:
  1. Districts which don't rely much on the PPT Reimbursement, meaning that less than 2% of their total funding comes from the PPT reimbursement. For these districts, the PPT Reimbursement program is over - they'll get no more money from this program. In Franklin County, Bexley and New Albany fall into this category.
  2. All other districts. This is obviously where we fall, as for us the FY11 PPT Reimbursement of $12 million represents 8% of our $152 million in total funding. For such districts, the PPT is phased out at a rate of no more than 2% of total funding each year. How long the phase out will take varies for each district, with the period being longer if the PPT Reimbursement is a large fraction of total fund.

    For example, Marysville Local Schools receives 16.5% of its total funding from the PPT Reimbursement (because of the Honda plant), so at a reduction rate of 2% more each year, it will take eight years for their reimbursement to end.
Since 2% of our total funding is a bit more than $3 million, the phase out schedule would work such that the $12 million for FY11 would be reduced to $9 million for FY12, then to $6 million for FY13, and finally $3 million for FY14 - and that would be it. Graphically, it looks like this:
Click to enlarge
Within the scope of our most recent Five Year Forecast (Oct 2010) - which extends to FY15 - our funding for PPT Reimbursement will be a total of $17.6 million LESS than projected.

It was already all but certain that even with the passage of the 6.9 mill Permanent Operating Levy this year, there would have to be another levy on the ballot again in 2013. We're already deficit spending, with our cash reserves diving toward zero. A 6.9 mill levy this year will slow the cash burn, but not end it - and that was true before this PPT Reimbursement cut was announced.

Our Five Year Forecast already had a much less aggressive phase-out of the PPT Reimbursement built in, plus assumptions that the next contract with the unions would be for three years, with base pay increases of  1% in FY12 (actually 0.5% because the unions have agreed to a base and step freeze for calendar 2011, meaning step increases automatically resume Jan 2012), 1% in FY13, and 1.25% in FY14. Although it would be beyond the scope of a three year contract, the Five Year Forecast assumes 1.5% base pay increases for FY15.

Note that the passage of SB5 changes all these assumptions about compensation agreements with the unions. I'll not attempt to address them in this article as there is still much to absorb about the final form of this law.

My unofficial, personal analysis of the numbers - ignoring the effect of this PPT Reimbursement phase-out acceleration for the first pass - is that: a) if we stick to the spending plan in the current Five Year Forecast, then the 2013 levy would need to be on the order of 8.8 mills to keep us from running out of cash before FY15 (when yet another levy would be needed).

If we pile on this acceleration of the PPT Reimbursement phase out, the 2013 levy would need to be on the order of 14 mills. That's how big a deal this is.

So if we assume that the 2011 levy passes, and another one is put on the ballot on 2013, and it passes, how much do we have to cut back on spending to keep the 2013 levy from being larger than say 7 mills?

My estimate is that we would have to cut the FY12-FY15 annual spending growth from the 4.25% compound annual growth rate now in the Five Year Forecast to something on the order of 2.5%. In dollar terms, that would mean reducing spending as follows:

FY12 from $166.7m to $166.2m (-$500,000)
FY13 from $175.9m to $169.6m (-$5.3m)
FY14 from $183.3m to $174.1m (-$8.2m)
FY15 from $191.3m to $178.7m (-$11.6m)

Graphically, it looks like this:

Click to Enlarge

In other words, after passing 7 mill levies in 2011 and 2013, we would still need to take a total of $25.6m out of our FY12-FY15 spending plan to stay solvent.

But note that this still isn't a spending cut. It's a significant reduction in the rate of spending growth. 

Our total spending as a district would still increase at a rate of 2.5% per year. The question is whether even that is affordable to the people of our community.


  1. Hi Paul,

    Do you mind expanding on this statement a little:
    "But note that this still isn't a spending cut. It's a significant reduction in the rate of spending growth."

    Will you provide and example or two of a spending cut and an example or two of reducing the rate of spending growth?

    I want to make sure I'm understanding the distinction here.


  2. I must say I am not at all surprised by this - it has been obvious, at least to me, that John Kasich's claim that he would balance the STATE budget with no tax hikes could only be accomplished by "passing the buck". What is disturbing to me is the administrations attitude that they have stretched the last levy an extra year, and then having to have Paul point out that we have done it through deficit spending! Who do we think we are, the Federal government?! We have known about the phase-out of the TPP money for some time now (although we didn't expect it to run out quite so quickly) We should have realized the one-time stimulus money provided through the state was exactly that - one-time. And yet the budget forecast, in typical government doublespeak, refers to "spending cuts" as though they were true budget cuts yet the total dollars spent increases each and every year? They call that "transparency"?
    From what I heard at Mondays meeting the only transparency they are willing to give us is advance notice of the cuts coming when the levy fails - and not a word about WHY those particular cut or why not other areas.
    If this does not force the board and administration to take a long and serious look at compensation levels, I don't know what else will (and I am still not hopeful). Token base raises, at best, and the elimination of steps entirely is the only hope we have of not being taxed out of the district. We have spent money like drunken sailors (with apologies to my Navy brethren!) knowing that the hammer was going to fall, and because the district has a record of approving levy and bond issues, the administration must think we will just keep bailing it out of poor fiscal management.
    The deficit spending has GOT to STOP, and the 88% portion of the budget has GOT to be reined in - drastically. I don't see this levy passing in May, in spite of the cheery propaganda on the Issue 7 Facebook page (from which I was banned, BTW, for expressing a dissenting opinion)or the official levy website. I am still going to vote No, and I am still going to encourage everyone I know to vote No. This district needs some shock and awe to get them back to reality, if indeed they were ever there to start with.

  3. Mike asked: Do you mind expanding on this statement a little: "But note that this still isn't a spending cut. It's a significant reduction in the rate of spending growth."

    Sure. Let's say you have a five year spending forecast that looks like this: $100, $120, $140, $150, $160.

    A spending cut could look something like: $100, $95, $96, $97, $98, $99. In other words, the future annual spending is set to be less than the current annual spending - at least for some period of time.

    A reduction in the rate of spending growth might look like: $100, $110, $120, $130, $140. The spending continues to grow each year, just at a lower rate.

    The terms take on a more personal meeting when you try to explain to an employee what's going to happen to their paycheck. In both cases, the only knobs the School Board can turn are: a) how much to spend per employee; and, b) how many employees to have on the team.

    With a spending cut, you may have to layoff some employees, or cut the pay to some employees, and sometimes both. For example, if the employees accept a deep pay cut, none might get laid off. If the pay cuts are small, layoffs are more likely.

    But when you reduce the rate in which compensation costs are rising, it means there is a chance to keep everyone employed but with minimal raises. In fact, raises might have to be skipped for period to allow funding to be first applied to increased benefits costs.

    There are simply no painless answers in this situation. It didn't really matter who was elected as Governor, the State of Ohio was going to have to finally step up and deal with their huge revenue/spending problem.

    And anyone paying attention had to know that K-12 education and local municipal governments were going to take the brunt of it - precisely because they have the ability to raise their own taxes and reduce their own spending. This isn't true for the other two primary recipients of State funding: the correctional system and Medicaid.

  4. Paul,

    I thank you yet again for actually doing the job of a board member.

    I would you like you to comment on my conclusion from everything we know so far:

    "We're screwed"

    The only way we fix this is by replacing the board. Unfortunately, the district is going to enter into contracts with their employees before that occurs. Unless other members of the board suddenly grow a pair (pigs might fly, too), they're going to commit us to contracts we can't possibly pay for.

    At what point can we, the tax payers, accuse the board of fiscal negligence?

  5. Paul,

    The double whammy puts us in a very difficult spot. I wanted to vote against the levy, but the addition of the state cuts to the already known budget shortfalls puts us in a position where we have to pass SOMETHING to remain solvent (I think). It will take all elements of the three-legged stool to make this work (salary cuts, operation cuts, and tax increases).

    My question is given the 5 year forecast shortfall AND the newly imposed state funding reductions, how much of a levy will we need even if we froze all salaries and benefits at the current level for 1,2, and 3 years? Can we get by without a levy? If not, what size would we need given the conditions outlined above and what would be the timeframe that it would need to be approved?

    Thanks for the excellent resource. No one else in the district offers this level of detail or diligence. It is much appreciated.

  6. Joe, I respect your concerns. But just food for thought, if this levy passes we still need a levy every two years to keep up with the districts
    spending forecast. Please look hard at the "cuts"
    they supposedly have made previously. These are "cuts" out of increased spending. If you look at the bottom line budget, even with these cuts they have talked about previously their is an average of 4% growth in the budget.

    There are plenty of areas to put on hold to save
    gifted services. Sports Mgt Curriculum, Crafts in the High Schools, Multiple principals in each building, 8 track coaches at each H>S and you can check supplemental salaries, programming, and if we have not even gotten to pay freezes or reductions which would save the elimination of programs. After restoring the
    recently voted cuts, their will still be 10 million dollars at least to provide salary and benefit increases as the contract is up at the end of this year.

    If we pass this levy then a person with an average home here in the district should save at least 1200 to 1500 dollars to pay for increases in taxes over the next 5 years at least, and perhaps even more if contracts are increased as they surely will.

    The question is do you trust the majority of the board to vote no or insure there will be pay cuts, or pay freezes or more of the same.
    4 of the 5 were endorsed and are very much in concert with the HEA and OAPSE

  7. @Joe - You're right; but passing this levy wont send the message to the other 4 board members and the not-so-Superintendent that must be sent.

    I have multiple kids in the district, but I am prepared to not only vote against, but actively campaign against every levy they put forward until they start to listen to us and rein in the outrageous growth in spending.

    No one is saying that tax increases wont be a part of this, but they need to be every 4 years, not every 2 which is where we are currently headed...

  8. Joe, I would urge you to vote no on the levy. Passage only gives the union more room to bargain.

    A good Board would have already had a labor agreement written, ready for when Kasich inked SB5. We should "neogtiate" the contract now while the law is in effect. It may be our last chance before the referendum is certified by the Secretary.

  9. As a small business owner, I have had a double whammy dropped on me several times in our 28 year history. A major account has gone up in smoke, typically through no fault of ours - they merely went out of business or went in a different direction. Regardless, we never ran our business close to the edge; instead of the two owners taking excessive salaries, or paying out excessive employee compensation during the good times, we would save as much as we could and stay out of debt as much as possible. Each time that got us through a period of low sales that lasted several years and each time we hung around until the pendulum swung back the other way. I'll admit to getting into "deficit spending" this last time (thanks to a great relationship with Huntington Bank)when a lot of our competitors simply shut their doors because they started out this recession already in debt and close to the edge. We recovered and are coming back strong - mainly due to owners taking pay cuts and employees having wages frozen for 3 years, as well as watching closely where every nickle was being spent. And we never lost one employee during, at least, the most recent down period - they had faith that we were not throwing money around and we would be here for the long haul. As well, very few in my industry were hiring - they were, and are, going through the same thing were.
    I see the HCSD in a similar situation to my
    competitors. They have been on the edge for a long time. The HCSD's largest expense, by far, is compensation, and even after the levy failure of 2008, they agreed to large increases in compensation knowing that in the short term anyway (until they could extort us on the levy vote by imposing service cuts) they did not have the money, and had to pay for it through deficit spending. As well, they had to support a new high school which 6 years ago we were told we did not need as they would expand the current high schools - a promise they reneged on. Although i was against both of those moves, I decided to vote Yes on the fall levy so as to restore the cuts and then fight from within for some reform.
    Not going to do that this time - I'm still voting no. Without any short-term pain, this district is not going to change a damn thing. When a board member can declare that they did their job by instituting a 5-10% contribution for health insurance and not mentioning guaranteeing 7.15% annual raises for 70% of the HEA, and 3% for the other 30%, directly on the heels of the failed levy - well, I am not going to support that type of behavior. If I vote yes in May, and then see the same type of reckless spending subsequent to that, I would be upset with myself as well as them. I'm taking myself out of that scenario.
    I want Brian Wilson to put up a slide show that shows nothing but compensation over the last 6 years - now THAT would be transparency.

  10. Hillirdite.

    Is this the official website to which you were referring?

    Paul, there is no other way to put this, it really p's me off that I am paying the district to present me these "facts". Is there anything that can be done?

  11. T- that is the HCSD site - there is another site for the volunteer levy campaign -
    as well as a Facebook page -!/ForHilliardSchools

    The Facebook page in particular is a real hoot - the largest collection in one place of folks who simply don't get it. I particularly like the post which refers to someone who wants to "maintain" their "soaring home value". Say what?

  12. All, thank you for your responses. But what I really want to know is what does the scenario of complete pay freezes (steps and all) for 1, 2, and 3 years do to our foecasted budget and levy needs. Would it eliminate the need for 4 years or would it simply reduce the amount needed? I want to know if we can get where we need to be by simply holding salaries where they are today (no steps, no raises). Then, we can add "what-ifs". But seeing as 90% of the budget is salaries, I want to know if freezing growth gets us completely through the 5 year plan or not.

    "My question is given the 5 year forecast shortfall AND the newly imposed state funding reductions, how much of a levy will we need even if we froze all salaries and benefits at the current level for 1,2, and 3 years? Can we get by without a levy? If not, what size would we need given the conditions outlined above and what would be the timeframe that it would need to be approved?"

  13. There needs to be the same sort of sites available for the 'vote no' or at least 'the levy isn't all due to Kasich' information. I've 'liked' on Facebook since its creation but it has not had a posting since September 2009. The voters that really are looking for answers to questions on the levy simply cannot find the opposing point of view. There are so many great graphs and explanations of the numbers on Paul's blog and on but it needs to be current and active.

  14. T brings up a good point - Who, What, When, How on the contract negotiations? I really do not know. Who starts the ball rolling on that and how is the process begun? Can the board start the process now or at least soon? I know the Dispatch had an article earlier this week about Bexley's union accepting a contract in a single day when the original forecast was the negotiations would go well into the summer. This could be a win-win for the district - make some budget cuts prior to the levy or at least before the 2011-2012 school year begins and the union could solidify things now instead of waiting for the big unknown of SB5's affect. It would also give the district the length of the new contract to define and implement the new merit-based system.

  15. My feeling is that the HEA pulled the strings on the contract, although Paul, being a Board member would know for sure and I am not sure how much he can disclose. I think that they agreed to a 1 year freeze as a bargaining chip, will use the SB5 mandated 15% health premiums(if that survived the debates) as leverage to get more in salary, and are using the one year extension to postpone the contract (again) until after a levy vote, although given the last contract, voting No on the levy will have little or no influence anyway.
    Keep in mind that the Bexley contract looks pretty lean, UNTIL you factor in steps. If the steps in Hilliard remain at 4% and 70% of the HEA members qualify, then we are dead in the water already. And believe me, you won't hear anyone from either side even mention steps unless YOU bring it up. That, too, comes from my experience 3 years ago.
    FYI - JK signed SB5 last night but I haven't seen the final version. I'm sure that will make for some not-so-light reading this weekend, lol.

  16. Hillirdite:

    I'm not confident that I fully understand what I can say about negotiations, but know that items discussed in Executive Session cannot be disclosed.

    Reading some of the material published by the Ohio School Board Association, it appears that the OEA may have been encouraging local unions to sign multi-year deals prior to SB5 becoming law, even if the unions have to make concessions of a magnitude we haven't seen for a while.

    I personally don't think that's a bad move for either party, and it certainly reduces the rate of spending growth for the district, and gives everyone some time to figure out how to implement a merit based pay system that all can live with.

    There's nothing wrong with sitting out the first months of strife that is going to accompany the passage of this bill.

    However, that's all moot. SB5 has been signed into law, and no new contracts of the pre-SB5 form can be put into force.

  17. Joe: I haven't been ignoring your question - just haven't had time to run the scenarios.

    If the 6.9 mill levy is passed in May, then to avoid another levy until 2015, we would have to reduce the rate of spending growth to 1.4%/yr.
    FY11 = $162.0m
    FY12 = $164.2m
    FY13 = $165.4m
    FY14 = $167.7m
    FY15 = $170.0m

    To make it for FY14 before putting a 6.9 mill levy on the ballot, spending growth would have to be limited to 1.8%/yr

    To make it to FY13, spending growth would have to be limited to 2.6%/yr

    Of course there are another set of permutations with lower levy amounts.

    The three big knobs are: a) rate of spending growth; b) size of the next levy; and, c) interval until the next levy. Pick two, and the third is determined...

  18. @heatherdu- I completely agree with you, let's get a contract now that has freezes in it( best case would have a multi-year freeze, but I'd be happy with a single year), pass a levy and then have some wiggle room. I too seee it as a win-win.
    Paul, I thought that even though JK signed the bill, it doesn't take effect for 90 days ( hence the referendum)

  19. Paul - appreciate the situations you have to face due to your dual roles.
    Seems both sides might be playing the same hand - SB5. As it appears that the hand has chances of going up in smoke anyway, resulting in a draw, I would prefer contracts, at all levels, sooner rather than later. That is the only way we will have an accurate figure of the actual cost of 88% of the budget over the next ??? many years. I truly hope a levy does not pass until that point. It is way past time that expenses do not exceed revenues. Give us a real vote.

  20. Paul,
    If you haven't already, check out today's (Saturday's) editorial piece in the Dispatch written by the Olentangy School Board President, regarding prioritizing sports over academic programs. Kudos to her. Too bad our board can't think as sensibly when it comes to the elimination of gifted services before any consideration to fees or reducing the number of sports/extracurricular programs offered. Has Hilliard ever published the number of sports scholarships our kids get vs. academic? I'd love to know if our stats look similar to theirs.

  21. Thanks for the pointing out Julie's editorial. I agree.

  22. Let's hold the applause for Mrs. Feasel. Olentangy (and Hilliard) find ourselves in this position due to the lack of a "sensible" fiscal policy.

    On top of that, I entirely reject her thesis. These "gifted" programs are not nearly as beneficial as they are being touted; nor are "extra" curriculars as superfluous.

    The most important job of a school system is to inspire, socialize, and challenge our children. Once you have accomplished that, you need only provide these energetic collaborators with access to knowledge. And the availability of knowledge these days is truly mind-boggling.

    True knowledge is sought out by individuals, not imparted to them. I participated in Dublin's gifted, Honors, and AP programs in the 90s. The knowledge that was imparted on me was not appreciated or retained. The emphasis was on "looking good on a college application". Despite having the capacity, my intellect was not mature enough for much else.

    Kids have a lifetime to learn. They are only young once. Let them be kids and make friends and play games and capture their imaginations.

    It's time for the adults in the room to get their *stuff* together and give these kids the right environment at a realistic cost.

  23. T...

    Having spent a fair chunk of time in the classrooms over the past couple of years, one of the benefits I see for gifted programs is to give the brightest kids a chance to be stimulated and challenged in a way they aren't in their mainstream classroom.

    I'm still don't understand why the 'tracking' approach used when I was a kid isn't still used. The elementary classrooms have kids ranging from gifted to 'cannot read' in the same room, all trying to do the same stuff at the same pace.

    Is that really better than grouping kids according to ability? It's not even economically efficient - the fastest growing job categories in our district are special ed teachers, teaching aides and tutors. What if instead of aides and tutors, we just hired that many regular classroom teachers and did ability grouping?

  24. I see it the exact opposite.

    The pace at which we educate our children is extremely slow, but for good reason. The ability of the gifted child to acquire knowledge will always exceed their ability to apply it.

    For example, I am quite confident that had the sole purpose of my existence been to pass the FE Civil Exam (the testing equivalent of a Bachelor's in Civil Engineering), I would have accomplished that by age 16 or 17. But who is going to hire a teenager to design bridges? Mature judgement takes far longer to develop.

    And the disparity between "gifted" and "cannot read" is not quite as wide as you make it sound. By gifted, you mean "smarter than most".

    This is the kind of gifted that needs to be "tracked":

    I wouldn't be too concerned with the "smarter than most". Given them the proper motivation and access to knowledge, and they will go on to lead happy and productive lives. Just occasionally remind them that we are all dependent on the "truly gifted" from above to do things like cure cancer.

    In the long run, you are going to be way better off grouping the 'cannot reads' with the 'smarter than mosts'. The 'smarter than mosts' should be expected to work with and get the most out of their less talented peers.

    Because that's how it's going to be in the world at large for the rest of their lives.

  25. And if the teachers are not capable of facilitating that kind of environment, they should be shown the door.

  26. T... thanks for the perspective. One of the 'can't read' kids I work with is clearly quite smart. His problem is getting stuff from his eyes into his reasoning center, and back out as written language. He took a language comprehension test the other day in which I read him the questions, and he had one of the highest scores in the class. His math skills are also excellent, but word problems are a killer.

    But there are other kids who have cognitive challenges beyond reading/writing. The kid I describe above can keep up, and would probably be called gifted (and is the reason I made the comment I did in my remarks at the Board meeting).

    This is one of those things I'm willing to leave to the experts, as long as I can be convinced that its in the best interest of the kids, rather than the preference of the adults.

  27. Good posts one and all... and Kudos to Paul. Here we stand on a steaming hot tar ladden road , both shoe's have fallen off. What do you say ?? shall we still keep kicking the can down the road ?? I have heard alot about what is going to happen if the #7 does not pass. How about what if it does pass ?? Nada. A grass roots push must come from the people (as in the tax payers who have had enough)to get the message out about all this nonsense. The can has a big dent in it.. and it is stuck in the road this time !! I must be " truly gifted " as I cure cancer for a living, and guess what? I'am a Grad from Westerville South who greatly benefited for " Gifted Curriculum ". The cuts are here .. let the bleeding begin, and then,and only then the healing can begin.

  28. @Heatherdu - will be receiving an update shortly. But even then it wont be taking a stance on the levy. It will show the facts though. Those, along with the charts, should be enough to prove to anyone that looks that the levy is the least of the problems, and that it's the out of control spending that's pushing us into the financial abyss.

  29. Paul,
    As a mother of gifted children, I appreciate your insight into the need to differentiate instruction. My daughter has benefited greatly from the gifted services she has received since second grade. As you may well know, gifted services have been cut several times since 2006 (loss of a program director, loss of reading support in 3rd grade, loss of math support in 4th). It has been tough to demand more challenging work from the teachers in these subject areas -- they have the best intentions but it really never happens consistently. When my daughter attends her FOCUS day she comments that she is exhausted from having to work hard and think all day. Imagine that! For those who think gifted services are just "fluff," you should do a little more research into how these children learn. Regular classroom placement is far from ideal.

  30. While I would gladly get into the discussions on the gifted program, I want to take a moment to point out that the Gifted Instruction is only one line item of cuts that hit the academics of our students. The approved cuts also include 13 Classroom Teachers, 7 Media Specialists, 5 Media Assistants, 2 Technology Teachers and Band and Strings for all fifth graders. I for one am very disappointed that ANY cuts that affect classroom instruction were considered without looking at all extracurricular programs first.

  31. @Heatherdu- I'm sure if you asked any of the 2400 7th and 8th graders they would have a different opinion of the cuts since ALL sports are removed from the three middle schools. Which I believe is considered an extracurricular program.

  32. Gifted instruction has taken a hit, and the need for multiple assistant principals, cooking classes, muliple athletic coaches, pottery, etc should have taken the hit instead of gifted services. But this has been the problem all along hit those hot buttons and dont mention the real fluff.

  33. Just as a point of clarification:

    The coaches of the middle school athletic programs hold those positions as supplemental positions for which they receive supplemental salaries (on the order of $2-3,000 per year). When middle school athletics are eliminated, the teachers retain their primary teaching jobs (unless that academic program is cut back as well).

    However, middle school music is not a supplemental program - it is built into the academic curriculum. I believe the students receive grades and academic credit. In order for spending to be reduced by elimination of these programs, teachers will have to be laid off.

    The only thing that is the same is the perceived motivation it gives parents to vote for the levy.

  34. One more point of clarification: in some cases, the athletic coaches are not also teachers in our district. In these cases, the supplemental pay is the only pay they receive from the district, and an elimination of their activity would terminate their part-time employment.

    However that is still different than laying off a fulltime teacher in an academic area.

  35. @Anon - I have a 7th grade student who participates in a variety of extracurricular programs including a sports team and an 'enrichment' (ie non-athletic) group. When I explained the planned levy cuts to him, his response was, "Take away the golf and other sports because I can do that outside of school but do not let them take away teachers and my advanced classes." Out of the mouths of babes.... I don't want to lose the extracurriculars but I prefer losing that to academic instruction. And if some must be lost I feel that the cuts should be shared by all students and not take all away from the middle school students while making no reductions at all at the high school level.

    @Paul - yes, middle school music is a graded course. The students can select band, orchestra, or choir. The middle school music is not targeted unless some of the planned classroom teachers cut are these teachers. I believe the only music included in the cuts is Fifth Grade Band and Strings. These are taught by the teachers from the middle and high schools as I understand so I'm not sure how this cut really affects their compensation. But it definitely affects the option of fifth graders to have this instruction.

  36. Wow.

    I thought people might like to know the following fact:

    1988 - % of operating budget spent on compensation & benefits: 61%

    1998 - % of operating budget spent on compensation & benefits: 63%

    2008 - % of operating budget spent on compensation & benefits: 87%


  37. With HB 5, can't we simply cut the pay of teachers and admin by an appropriate amount to balance the books? Start paying for merit, cutting out poor teachers/admin, and hiring new people at lower starting salaries.....We need to starting treating education employees like they are in the real world rather than the lala world of academia...

  38. Paul,

    I want to thank you for effectively communicating Hilliard City School's financial situation. Your work is amazing and reinforces why I voted for you and encouraged my neighbors to support you. Please continue to update your website to provide us with another tool to make informed decisions.

    With that being said, I wanted to say a few words as to why I will NOT be supporting the levy.

    First, my personal opinion is that you are out numbered on the board. I DO trust you to work on reining in costs but I DO NOT trust the remaining board members to examine all available options. Therefore, the only recourse the tax payers have is to VOTE NO on the levy and use the November election to replace the existing board members with people who are willing explore all of the options. I realize you are in a tough situation being on the board but property taxes are out of control and to simply keep raising taxes is no longer acceptable.
    Second: I feel that the Hilliard tax payers are already spending enough to cover the educational needs for our children. Teachers who are recieving step raises and plush retirement benefits need to start helping us out. Please understand that I want teachers to make a comfortable living but times are tough and I feel that they have not made any substantial contribution to help us weather the storm.