Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Now What?

I don't know yet what kind of conclusions any of us can draw from this levy vote. But I thought this comment, reportedly made on Facebook somewhere, was the most poignant:
"Regardless of how you voted for the Hilliard School Levy, here is something to think about. We have 15,634 students in the district and there were 14,488 votes cast. That's less than 1 parent per student that bothered to vote. Sad"
The greatest danger to our school district, and therefore our community (and arguably our county) is the ignorance of and lack of critical thinking by the majority of citizens in regard to the core issues, as well as the general lack of interest in getting engaged in developing solutions. Sure, plenty of people get involved in booster organizations and PTOs, and that's wonderful. But when it come to governance of the school district, the number of people who have shown interest over the years is relatively tiny compared to the population.

To those who wanted this levy defeated - there is no victory here. The hard work is yet to come. You can't just say NO - you have to help answer the "Now What?" questions. Not in generalities - in specifics. What needs to be our spending priorities?  What should get less funding so that other things can get more?  If you advocate pay cuts as a way to balance the budget (rather than layoffs and programming cuts), how do you propose making that happen and not ignite a labor conflict?

And for those who campaigned for this levy, first I appreciate your service to the community. But let me suggest that the "it's for the kids" rhetoric needs to end. It's not. It's a dialog between one set of adults who want more and another set of adults willing to give less, and the kids get caught in the crossfire. Shame on all of us.

The central issues are the ones I've been preaching for years:
  • Our costs are driven by compensation and benefits. The current spending trajectory is unsustainable given reasonable expectations of revenue, and that means we need to have a respectful but tough conversation about compensation and benefits. It's not about busing, middle school extracurriculars, gifted programming or anything else that gets put on these 'cut lists.' It's time we addressed the real cost driver.
  • Unless and until there is an economic renaissance in Ohio,  the state government is going to keep taking money away from school districts they perceive to be affluent - like ours - and redirect it to other districts they perceive to need the money more. It doesn't matter which political party controls the Governor's office and the General Assembly, there's only so much money, and our share of it is going to continue to shrink unless the suburbs find a way to counter this political reality (e.g. Superintendent Dale McVey currently serves in a top leadership position for an association of school districts similar to ours across the state - an association which lobbies on our behalf to state lawmakers).
  • One of the best ways to ease the tax burden on the residents and businesses in our school district is to recruit more businesses to set up shop here. I'm encouraged that Nathan Painter was the top vote getter in the Hilliard City Council primary, which all but guarantees him a seat on Council in the General Election this November. As a charter member of the school district's Audit & Accountability Committee, he understands these dynamics, and I'll trust that he will make win-win decisions for both the City and the School District.
Let's treat the people of our community like grownups, and give them the information they need to help find solutions, not engage in emotional warfare. Let's build an effective community education program, as I've been harping about for years. Education is the business we're in, isn't it?  So let's teach the people how this stuff works. Olentangy schools built an impressive community education program (I attended a few of their sessions), structured so as to provide continuing education credit to their teachers as well, which encouraged their participation. Maybe we can borrow their template.

And people of the community, if you want things to change, then engage in the process rather than armchair quarterback those who do. Find out how things really work, and quit believing all the urban legends.

And by all means -- VOTE!


  1. I couldn't keep myself from participating in a blog discussion of the Hilliard levy on the Dispatch web site today. The topic turned to the over all effect losing school levies will have on the community, One person expressed a belief that Hilliard will become the next Whitehall if levies continue to fail.

    This person also very frankly said if less affluent people end up leaving Hilliard, so be it. This person said Dublin and New Albany were not always as affluent as they are now, and if in order to fund the schools as some people appear to want to, so that only "wealthy" people can afford to live here, well, it's not illegal to drive out the have nots.

    Is this the future of Hilliard? Will we lose the older neighborhoods full of 1100-1300 sq. foot houses? I find the prospect of this very sad. I lived for many years in the Conklin subdivision. Can these people still afford to live here?

  2. If you advocate pay cuts as a way to balance the budget (rather than layoffs and programming cuts), how do you propose making that happen and not ignite a labor conflict?

    Paul - I would say this needs to occur in the teaching profession in a manner similar to the private sector, namely the school “management” offer the union a choice. The choice is lower salaries for all members, or layoff of people to get to the desired fiscal goal. Since I am a member of the technical community within Columbus, this layoff action has occurred in my career. That is, there was not enough revenue to permit the firm to continue to pay my salary, so my position was eliminated. Was that because I, as the technical staff, was not SELLING sufficient product to obtain the correct revenue stream? Selling was not my position. Innovation and development of product was my position. However, lack of dollars means one may be laid off, or work for reduced dollars. Since there was close to zero revenue, that meant I could work for no pay, or accept layoff, and unemployment.

    I suspect there is more “give” in the present economics of the HSD. That is, a small reduction in salary across the union membership could permit all positions to remain employed. Again, this is no different than my situation. My income is about 70% of what it was in the year 2000. I have not experienced any raise in salary for over twelve years. I suspect the across the board salary reduction for teachers will not approach even 5%, in order to maintain a balance in revenue over the next few years. I am certain you have the figures you are able to share with the group with respect to actual salary reduction required to maintain equilibrium between revenue and salaries.

    While a reduction in salary is not an optimal situation, it is far better than being on unemployment. And, since the school district is supposed to be a reflection of the community it serves, it is not all that different than has occurred in the community. There are many people, of especially the technical community, who have a situation not all that different than myself. The choice is that of the union membership, and thus unrest is avoided.

  3. I suspect that there are many folks who have lived those neighborhoods for 40-50 years who think it would be a good thing if about 80% of the people moved out of Hilliard and restored it to the small town with a very good school system that asked for more money only once a decade or so.

    Realistically, I think you're right - that we're in real danger of taxing lower income people out of the district, especially seniors trying to make it on a retirement income that was fixed many years ago.

    We may need to think seriously about the use of income taxes in the future. The good thing about them is that they relieve the burden on the seniors. School districts even have the option of earned-income-only income taxes, which exempt retirement income (disclosure: such a tax would be WONDERFUL for our household!).

    But income tax are paid only by residents, not the businesses of the community. And if we did an earned-income-only tax, it would further concentrate the tax burden on fewer people.

    Income taxes are also far less stable than property taxes. That's why the State of Ohio is hurting - most of its revenues are sensitive to the incomes of individuals and businesses. So when the economy tanked, so did revenue.

    If we were completely funded by local property taxes, we'd not be figuring out how to deal with funding cutbacks. It's not such a crazy thought. The state funding we get is only about 50% of the income taxes we pay out. If we could keep all that money locally, our property taxes would be much lower.

    No easy answers. We all have to figure this out together. But we can't just keep doing the same old thing.

  4. Paul,

    Can we tone the rhetoric down a bit? ("If you advocate pay cuts as a way to balance the budget (rather than layoffs and programming cuts), how do you propose making that happen and not ignite a labor conflict?")

    A 3% cut would save more than the cuts on the table, possible in the $5-6m range when you consider that when you impose a cut there are no raises that year. So we could increase the cut to 5-6% (saving $10m) and all hell would break lose?


    $10m would still leave us above the spending levels in 2009. Just 2 years ago.

    I really think that if the argument is strictly about facts and economics (and, thus, reality) the cut will be far easier to get than people realize.

    And there are lots of examples in the past 12 months where public sector employees (including teachers) have given up 5% or more of their pay.

    So it can be done.

    The question is, do we have the intestinal fortitude to make it happen?

  5. If people want to continue to look at education like a business, then so be it. You will get what you pay for. If you want teachers to take pay cuts, and continue to blame them and the union, Hilliard will lose good teachers to places like Dublin, Bexley, UA and New Albany, to name just a few...the communities that continue to support their schools because they realize their schools are the central point of their community. Or worse, they will be driven out of the profession because of the negativity. People move to Hilliard for a number of reasons,a major one is our excellent school system.
    I believe the teachers/union in Hilliard are more than willing to make concessions in salary and benefits similar to those in other districts. Contrary to belief, they have already with the current pay freeze. Like it or not, education is a "business" where salaries and benefits are always going to be a major part of the budget. Salaries and benefits are a major part of any business. It is what it is..teachers teach students. That is not going to change, and the teachers in Hilliard are as good as it gets in my opinion. Education has been successful in Hilliard because of the combination of the teachers and the people of the community being supportive and working together. Is that going to continue, or will some continue to point the finger and make judgements on something they have never done in their lifetime?
    I also tire of the constant comparisons with other professions. "I am not making what I made 5,10 yrs ago, so teachers should deal with the real world". Why do people wish the demise on others that they are going through? Thats a sad state of mind in my opinion. I wish NO ill will on others. I don't question what a lawyer makes, what a doctor or an engineer earns. I don't ask others what they do, and judge them never having done what they do. I don't look at someone who makes more than me and think, wow, I think they should take a pay cut for this or that reason. I just don't get that thought process at all. And it means nothing with what we are dealing with here. Teachers have in fact made concessions, are continueing to do so. They are held to state standards similar to professions in law and medicine. Teachers are losing their jobs all around the state with the budget cuts. Hilliard will be laying off a number of teachers. They are also dealing with some possible MAJOR changes with SB5 as well as changes to their STRS. Its NOT an easy time to be in the field of education.
    Paul, I don't always agree with your view points and I'll be blunt, I believe you have a hidden agenda at times. BUT this recent blog was well put. It is sad, very SAD that only 15K voted in this community. I don't have all the answers. I realize something needs to happen. Asking people to continue to fork out money every 3/4 years isn't going to continue to work. Things are coming to a head in my opinion. Good or bad...something has to give. I just hope, as Paul said, that people can come together for the cause. This state is currently split for a number of reasons, some I won't get into. I hope and pray something good comes of this. Education is the foundation of our community, our state and our nation. And currently, education is getting disrespected all over the nation in my opinion. God bless.

  6. My apologies if the "not ignite a labor conflict" was taken to be more combative that I meant it to be.

    My point is that a pay cut can't be unilaterally imposed upon the employees, it has to be negotiated in good faith.

    It would take some pretty skilled diplomacy on the part of the leadership of both the school district and the unions to have a successful outcome, which I define as an environment where all sides feel the deal reached is reasonable and fair, which means everyone feels the other side has shared in the sacrifice.

    If such a thing were mishandled, by the leadership of either side, it could permanently and negatively alter the relationship between the community and the employees.

  7. @Anon -- I think you might have missed the point. I think we need to tone down the rhetoric and put everything on the table.

    School district salaries did increase significantly in the past three years during a time when many people in the district saw limited raises, if any, and others saw pay cuts.

    So it is only right that pay cuts are on the table. If we can come up with alternatives (we can; but they would need to be long-term alternatives) that negate the need for cuts, let's do it.

    Or, we can bite the bullet, adjust the curve downward this one time, and then implement a way for district employees to increase their salaries without having to go back for more tax dollars every 3-4 years.

    We may lose some teachers -- unlikely, since their options are limited -- but it IS possible. That's the price we may pay for long term sustainability.

    But everything must be on the table. There should be no sacred cows. That doesn't mean all the cows will be take to slaughter, but they need to be given a look-see, right?

    This is the only way we'll find a long term solution.

  8. I also tire of the constant comparisons with other professions. "I am not making what I made 5,10 yrs ago, so teachers should deal with the real world". Why do people wish the demise on others that they are going through?

    I think you misinterpret the situation. The first problem is that many folks have been surprised what teacher compensation looks like these days. Many assume teachers are still paid low salaries (and in some districts, they are), and so they're surprised when they find that the pay is what it is. That surprise leads to a bit of overreaction. And that's the reason I advocate for an effective community education program - so we can get rid of these surprises and consequent emotional overreactions, and start to deal with the facts.

    Proof of the community's surprise was in a survey taken by the school district in the fall of 2009, when over 80% of the respondents said teachers are paid about right or too little. But that answer was based on an assumption about teacher pay that was about $20,000 low (average guess = $48,000; actual = $70,613).

    I wish the survey outfit had asked one more question: "Now that you know the average teacher salary is $70K rather than the $48K you assumed, do you think teacher comp in our district is high, low or about right?"

    The other reality the teachers need to accept is that this is a zero-sum situation: in order to pay our teachers more, the taxpayers of the district have to give up some of their disposable income. A property tax levy is the mechanism used to effect that transfer of income.

    And so when someone like the commenter above says "My income is about 70% of what it was in the year 2000. I have not experienced any raise in salary for over twelve years." he's saying that in order for the teachers to get a pay increase, he has to take an income hit, and he doesn't understand why the teachers don't realize that, and maybe ease up on the demands until the economy recovers and he and the many like him get back on their feet.

  9. "If you advocate pay cuts as a way to balance the budget (rather than layoffs and programming cuts), how do you propose making that happen and not ignite a labor conflict?"

    Let's see, most everyone I know has had to accept a pay cut and most often a substantial increase in healhcare premiums, including senior citizens. Yet the only ones that will fly into a labor conflict will be our educators.
    The only ones that will not accept the fallout of the "Great Recession" is our educators. Why would they feel they should be excluded? Why would they will let students for whom they claim devotion be deprived of athletics and why would they let their fellow teachers face unemployment before they will accept a 3-4% pay increase? I now understand the need for Senate Bill 5 and sincerely hope it is not overturned in November.

  10. "... I also tire of the constant comparisons with other professions. "I am not making what I made 5,10 yrs ago, so teachers should deal with the real world". Why do people wish the demise on others that they are going through?"

    I am on social security and not wishing demise on anyone. But I am the one they are asking to pay the bill. Teachers are paid by the taxpayers, doctors and attorneys are not.

  11. Paul has made some very positive points.

    I am hopeful hundreds of folks join in to make
    positive suggestions. No matter how you voted you should be there to speak up. The district and its employees have to be tolerant of EVERYONES views, not just business as usual, not just we cant, not just you dont get it, not for some to say no to any new funding etc.

    Lets upgrade the communication. Lets make some
    funding adjustments, lets get a commitment from the district and its employees to keep kids out of the contract negotiations, and find ways to build consensus.

    Everything should be on the table, no sacred cows. But we can still improve and increase
    opportunities by tightning things up.

  12. Where to start? First and foremost the 'now what' answer is to get the admin and (rest of) the board to remember their job and set the appropriate priorities which is the EDUCATION of the students. The core academics need to be the focus and that starts with our youngest and must be continued to be supported through out all grades. It means that the admin needs to present the board with more than a single option and those options need factual data attached to aid in decision making. I know that Paul asked for a delay in approving the cuts so that more information and community input could be ascertained but no one else cared. Some questions that I want answered include why 5th Grade Band and Strings instead of electives at higher grades? Why eliminate the Gifted Services of the youngest students? The only answer I heard was 'it is not mandated.' Well, there are many other offerings in the district that are not mandated. Where is the comparison to show that the best choice is to take away services from students that have been identified as needing those offerings? Was a survey done to see if parents would support a higher pay-to-participate fee if it kept MS sports? What about a cost analysis of individual sports programs? All the Star Trek shows come flooding to mind with the good of the many versus good of the few message. Would a better option be to eliminate some expensive sports across all grades that serve few students (i.e. golf which in MS is a single team of 12 across both grades and genders, requires going to a range for practice, no 'home field' so constant transportation, green fees, no revenue) to save other sports across all grades (i.e. basketball with multiple teams for grades and genders, on-site practice facility, ticket sales help offset expense)? Maybe the single list presented to the board contains the best options. But maybe not.

    I'm reminded of a few motherly advice comments that I heard growing up and still use with my boys. You won't know unless you ask and the worse they can say is no. I have heard and read about the previous pay freeze and how a freeze and cuts could help now. I admit that I do not know the interactions and correct procedures but did anyone representing the district contact the union to ask? Seriously? Did anyone officially tell them that we are planning these cuts and many or all could be avoided if your members voted to extend the freeze? If so, and the answer was no then the community deserves to hear that because what I hear from individual members of the union is that they would approve another freeze if it really meant saving positions. The worst they can say is NO. And that may not be all bad because it would certainly show their hand and priorities. It is for the kids, right?

  13. To the anon above who thinks that Hilliard teachers will depart en-masse unless we pass levys for more raises and benefits, there is another reality check in store for them. There is a glut of teachers in Ohio so getting that great job in Dublin or Westerville is harder than you think. Dublin had several thousand applications for a few open slots last year. Also, when you get there, you'll probably have to take a pay cut since most districts, at the demands of their local union, don't recognize more than 10 years of experience. Thanks to your union, you're pretty much stuck in one district for life.

  14. @"It would take some pretty skilled diplomacy on the part of the leadership of both the school district and the unions to have a successful outcome"

    I dont see our current Administrators as being skilled in diplomacy. In fact i see the opposite that they are on the side of the teachers and afraid to make the necessary plans and cuts that we need in this district. Mr. McVey has not shown that he can negotiate or cut programs that are not needed. Neither do i see a majority of our school board doing this either. Teachers Unions will always hold a strike over the heads of the community thus making everyone afraid of them.

    I agree with Heatherdu "Would a better option be to eliminate some expensive sports across all grades that serve few students (i.e. golf which in MS is a single team of 12 across both grades and genders, requires going to a range for practice, no 'home field' so constant transportation, green fees, no revenue) to save other sports across all grades (i.e. basketball with multiple teams for grades and genders, on-site practice facility, ticket sales help offset expense)? Maybe the single list presented to the board contains the best options. But maybe not."

    Why are expensive sports still there ie. golf swimming, rowing, etc when there are other programs that could have been saved.. I am not an ogre but i did vote NO. I know that teachers for the most part do a wonderful job and deserve fair compensation, whith that said, there are some that boohoo and say teachers will leave. I say let them. then a teacher who wants to be in the district can be hired at a lower salary. There will always be those that threaten to leave when in fact they wont. They will leave for other schools in the area.. No Hilliard is one of the best paid of all of them i do not see them leaving at all.
    In one report i saw that 27 percent of the teachers in Hilliard make over 75K a year... if they cant help by tightening the bootstraps like the rest of us I do not know who can... I think the time has come to revisit the compenstation package of all of HCSD employees and make it realistic compared with the local community. I do know that Hilliard is trying to tax me out of my house. Like many I am on a fixed income also, frozen pay, higher food and gas prices, higher medical bills so for the teachers to complain for making more than the average Franklin county resident it makes no sense and the same goes for the administration. lets see worthwhile cuts.. not cuts to scare the public and the people who have children in the school. make personnel cuts on sanity. (psychologists in every building come on now)...Administrators must lead.. and to lead they must show the willingness to accept the fact that they must take the bull by the horns... take a pay cut then ask the teachers to do the same.... contracts be damned.

  15. Paul,

    You may have addressed this in a past blog and if I missed it, I apologize. What I would like to understand better is the income/costs coming from Columbus resident's children attending Hilliard schools. I am fully aware that Columbus residents who are in the Hilliard City School district pay the same property tax percent to our school district as Hilliard residents. But, we also know that our school costs increase as more children come into the district. Right now, about 46% of the children in Hilliard schools have Columbus residency. It really surprised me that more Columbus children attended our schools than Hilliard students. Wouldn't it be wise to decrease the number of non-Hilliard residents attending Hilliard schools as Hilliard residents attendance increase. It would seem that doing this in place of building new schools and expanding would make the most financial sense. As I mentioned, I know that non-Hilliard residents pay the same property tax percent into the Hilliard school district. I do wonder if average property values outside of Hilliard may be lower than in Hilliard, making this situation a losing financial situation for Hilliard residents as well?

  16. The upcoming contract negotiations are the perfect opportunity for the two sides to put their money where their mouth is. The only course the voters have is to decide how much money will be made available and it is up to the administration/board to decide where to spend that money. Those who will blame the voters for the impending cuts are way off base.
    My problem is that this is not news to the administration. What is it going to take for them to address the compensation problem head-on? Most of us here know that middle school sports and the cost of fuel for the buses is not what is breaking the budget and the administration must realize it too. If the board dances around it again at the Coffee on Saturday, we will know that nothing is going to change. They have the ball, let's see how they run with it.
    And I echo the disgust with the horrible voter turnout. I'll never understand how so many people just don't seem to care, one way OR the other. It took me all of 10 minutes to drive to the polls and cast my vote!

  17. Stop accusing the community of wanting to run the community like a business. It makes no sense. We just want good schools that operate at a reasonable cost. Our taxes are already the highest.

    If anyone is running the district like a business, look at the people who have monopolized its labor.

  18. I think pay-for-sports is a no-brainer. Schools need to focus on their primary mission instead of becoming "minor leagues" for high schools and colleges.

    And, of course, administrator jobs need to be cut and teacher pay/benefits frozen and/or cut.

    If you advocate pay cuts as a way to balance the budget (rather than layoffs and programming cuts), how do you propose making that happen and not ignite a labor conflict?

    That's the $64,000 question isn't it? I don't have an answer, and the fact that I don't is what stops me from getting more involved in this process (beyond voting and reading this blog).

  19. I know i just posted :) but I will address Anon comments... I am one of those that have columbus residency but pay Hilliard taxes. One thing that a Hilliard proper has is that he can vote out there Mayor and commissioners where I cant. I would love to be able to address some of the economic issues of Hilliard and drive a plan that brings employment to the city.. but i cant. In my neighborhood you have SWCS and HCSD.. a road away it is columbus public schools.. there is no ryhme or reason for it that is the way it is. would i love the lower taxes..... sure! who wouldnt. Is it going to happen no becuase of the annexation plans way before i bought my house.

    If you just took kids from Hilliard proper I do not think HCSD would be able to sustain its level. along with all the buildings some not in Hilliard, you would then go back to a sleepy little school ( no offense intended) The property taxes would still be high and the backs of your seniors and fixed income people would be broke and they would move leaving little left for HCSD.

  20. Thanks for asking the question. This is one of the most misunderstood topics in regard to our school district. I have written a few posts about this, but let me summarize the key points:

    1. Those regions of the school district which now lie within the boundaries of the City of Columbus have ALWAYS been in the Hilliard School District. They were farmland and woods and swamps until developers came along and built houses and commercial properties. The rule around here is that to get water/sewer services from the regional water/sewer system, which is completely under the control of the City of Columbus, a developer has to annex into either a suburb with rights to annex that land (via THEIR water/sewer contract with Columbus), or to the City of Columbus.

    So those neighborhoods now in the City of Columbus used to be in one of the townships (e.g. Norwich, Brown, Franklin), but only to gain water/sewer service.

    2. Also in this set of parcels annexed into Columbus for water/sewer purposes are all the commercial properties along the Rome-Hilliard and Roberts Rd corridors. So Wal-Mart, Meijer, Kroger, Big Lots all pay Hilliard School taxes. In fact, they pay a lot. There are also industrial concerns in our school district, like Boehringer Roxanne Labs and the Buckeye Yard.

    3. When the "white flight" from Columbus schools started around 1980, Hilliard was one of the suburbs that many of those people moved to. So in many cases, we're talking about folks who have lived in our school district for 30 years, and sent their kids through our system from K-12. In fact, my wife and I are examples. We built our first house in Golfview Woods, which is a development built on a farm field that had been in Hilliard Schools for 100 years, but was annexed into Columbus solely to get water/sewer.

    4. A further complication happened back around 1980 when Columbus City Schools started to get annoyed that it seemed like the middle/upper class kids were draining out of their district and heading to the 'burbs. So they asked the State Board of Education, who sets school district boundaries, to reinstitute a policy of moving school district boundaries with municipal annexations. In other words, they wanted to reach out into neighborhoods like Golfview Woods and pull us into Columbus City Schools, when that land had NEVER been in Columbus City Schools.


  21. As you can imagine, that set off quiet a furor. Not only were homeowners like me pretty alarmed, the real political fallout came from the developers who saw that their suburban housing boom was going to dry up if ever new development was going to get annexed into Columbus, and become part of Columbus Schools.

    The so-called "Win-Win Agreement" came out of this. It essentially says that all the existing homes built on land annexed into Columbus could remain in the suburban school district (whew!). But it also said that, with few exceptions, any undeveloped land annexed into Columbus would automatically shift to Columbus Schools. That's the reason the big parcel north of Hayden Rd Run between Avery and Cosgray is now in Columbus Schools.

    But there are also a number of bizarre situations where homes within sight, and in some cases adjacent to Hilliard Schools are actually in the Columbus City School district. For example, the homes on the first part of Pinefield Dr are in Columbus schools, but actually share property lines with our Alton-Darby Elementary school.

    The last piece of the Win-Win is that we have to 'revenue share' with Columbus Schools. I prefer to call it a ransom payment, and it is now $1 million/yr.

    So the big question: if the Win-Win fell apart, and Columbus Schools decided to make a play for all these homes and businesses AND the State Board of Ed approved, would Hilliard City Schools community be better off?

    Financially, probably yes. It would depend on whether Columbus cherry-picked the commercial property and left us with the residential. That would be a disaster. But if they took all the residential and all the commercial, and we could quit paying the $1m ransom, we'd be better off financially.

    But we'd also be cutting off neighborhoods like the Golfview Woods, The Glen, High Point, and many others where our friends have lived for decades, paying property taxes to Hilliard City Schools all the while.

    Hope this helps. It's not all that complicated, but it's more than the simple situation most think it is...

  22. By the way, until 1983, our school district was known as "Scioto Darby Local Schools," and the City of Hilliard was a very small part of the land area. When the district grew large enough that the state law deemed it a "city" school district, the named was changed to "Hilliard City Schools," which is a little ironic because the reason it was growing was because of the new developments that had been annexed into the City of Columbus.

    But as is often the case, I imagine that the real estate developers thought it would be easier to sell homes in a district that sounds like its part of a city, rather than some rural backwater (btw - we now live in that 'rural backwater' but it's quickly being gobbled up by development).

    And the City of Hilliard is still less than 20% of the land area of the school district (11 sq mi for the City vs 59 for the school district)

  23. Paul,

    Thanks for the great write-up. I had looked around, but was not able to find good details on how this all works. In my opinion, Hilliard schools really needs to put this out there in front of everyone to see so the homeowners really understand it. Most Hilliard homeowners that I have talked to about this have a negative opinion on the relationship between Columbus City and Hilliard schools. Actually, most people that I talk to think that Columbus pays us to take in their students, but it seems to be the other way around(ignoring tax money). I think it would be very beneficial for everyone to better understand how this works so they can make better educated decisions. Thank you for your detailed response!

  24. Joe: Thanks for the comment.

    Pay-to-Play is a challenging issue for me. I understand that there are parents who would rather pay for extracurriculars than have them cancelled.

    And I understand that there are folks who don't want their tax money used to support extracurriculars, and think pay-to-play is the way to get that cost off the taxpayers' back.

    I look at it this way - we're either operating a public school district, or we're not. If we can't offer extracurriculars to all students for free, then we shouldn't offer them at all. If extracurriculars are part of the process of giving our kids a well-rounded education, then we should find ways to engage every kid in some kind of extracurricular activity.

    Our district has activity fees already, although pretty small in comparison to others. And we have policies that waive those fees for kids who are economically disadvantaged.

    But I worry about the families like mine was growing up - those who have enough income to be above the 'economically disadvantaged' cut off, but not with a lot of spare income. These families have to sacrifice if they want their kids to participate in extracurriculars, and many have to make the choice between food/housing/utilities/gas and letting their kid play a sport or be in the band.

    As I said, that hurdle is pretty low right now, but if the pay-to-play gets raised to hundreds of dollars, which kids are going to get left out.

    If it gets to that point, I rather see these extracurriculars be made club activities that operate without funding from the taxpayers.

  25. Heatherdu is absolutely correct. The district and the board aren't even asking the questions.

    And that is why this levy failed.

  26. Paul, I respect your pay-to-play views and I know it would be a hardship for many. And it certainly may not be the best option but it is an option. But the point I was trying to make is - did the administration or other board members ask you for your opinion on it? The impression that I have is that there was no discussion and Middle School Sports were placed on the chopping block by the 4-1 vote. Did they survey any voters? I wasn't asked.

  27. Paul - There must be a way to implement pay-to-play and leverage the booster organizations to subsidize the cost for low-income families?

    As a hypothetical example, if one of the High Schools has a star running back that couldn't afford to play, I am sure the boosters would find some way (the parents from the rest of the team?) to make sure that kid was on the team if it meant a shot at the state championship or not...

    There has to be a way to help make this happen, surely?

  28. What's next is a great question. I hope the district does many things. I would love to see an open and honest relationship between the district and its residents. How about mailing out a survey that first lists factual information concerning the district's budget and asks the residents how they think it is best to proceed. In the end, it does affect our sons and daughter. I would want to know:
    -Average teachers salary and average number of years in the district
    -Employee contribution to health care premiums and STRS
    -Average admins salary and number overall in the district (do we have 2-3 vice principals at any schools?)
    -Capacity of school buildings and how enrollment numbers compare (can some be combined to cut down on overhead costs)
    -Sports offered, grade-levels offered and how much each costs
    -Other alternative extra curricular programs, how they are staffed and the average cost per

    I do think it is time that teachers take a look at their compensation package and ask, "is this inline with the rest of America and the times we face?" I realize that there are many nights and weekends dedicating to grading papers and preparing lesson plans (I used to be a teacher myself) but the bottom line is they are getting paid an average 70K per year salary for 184 work days. That would equate to 94K per year for the average employee who works 250 days per year.

    Not cutting salaries is like the federal government not looking at defense spending, social security, medicaid/care and still trying to balance the budget.

  29. @"Our district has activity fees already, although pretty small in comparison to others. And we have policies that waive those fees for kids who are economically disadvantaged"

    Ok it is true that SOME activities should be offered but lets pare them down. gymnastics... most of those kids are already in local clubs..cut it. Soccer... again lots of local clubs these kids are in let them play for them the recruiters from colleges still go to those games. Field Hockey... lets let see nope no professional field hockey teams i can find...

    Some will say that kids will miss out on scholarships... lets take a look at the word Scholarship scholarship from Dictionary .com is "Academic study or achievement; learning of a high level". nope no word of sports in there... lets get back at fundamentals.

    Boosters makes the money let them finance "scholarships" for worthy individuals who can not pay to play...I for one think if you cut half of the sports programs then you can keep the same level of fees as you would not be paying for all of those other coaches. You could also cut down on the administrative staff of the athletics department aa a whole... Viola saved money.

    And Paul you hit it on the head our fees are small compared to other schools wouldnt hurt to have a little fee hike.

  30. @Average admins salary and number overall in the district (do we have 2-3 vice principals at any schools

    go to the website there are 5 I repeat 5 principals per HS

  31. @ "would love to see an open and honest relationship between the district and its residents"

    Wouldnt we all but with the current board save one, and the current administrators you will not see anything close to open and honest. My opinion. I do beleive we have ineffectual leaders. ones that want it their way or no way and will not listen to the voters. I am bracing myself for multiple levy requests till the public gets sick of them... as we speak i am writing my state senator and asking for a law that would limit the amount of times a school district can ask for a levy.. once a year would be fine... make the cuts and then see what you need.. not put a levy request on every ballot till it wins.

  32. Sometimes, organizing an issue in a 2x2 matrix is helpful it sorting out how you think. For example with pay-to-play, I'm envisioning a grid with "Great Performer" and "Lesser Performer" on one axis, and "Parents can afford fee" and "Parents can't afford fee" on the other. That gives us four groupings:

    1. Great Performer/Parents-can-afford: no problem.
    2. Lesser performer/Parents-can-afford: still gets a shot to participate
    3. Great performer/Parents-can't-afford: someone will find a way to pay the fee on his/her behalf
    4. Lesser performer/Parents-can't-afford: Get screwed.

    You might say, okay #4 is the empty set because lesser performers won't make the team anyway. But there's two problems with that thinking:

    1. There are some sports in which there are more slots than stars to fill them. So some lesser performers get an opportunity, and they might develop into stars with a little coaching and experience. But they'll never get the chance because they can't afford the fee.

    2. We're not just talking about sports. There's also marching band, orchestra, choir, drama and other non-athletic extracurriculars. Who's going to pay the scholarship for a talented but lower income clarinet player?

  33. For what it's worth, this is a great conversation. The fact that a conversation is happening is wonderful.

    It's just a shame it happens here, and not at a board meeting *cough* *cough* ...

  34. I, too, have mixed emotions on the entire pay to play. for both sports and all other extra curricular's. One of my kids ran track and CC and I was more than happy to pay additional fees for that. One daughter was heavily into the vocal arts, and I don't recall any fees for that but at the same time, I didn't see much added expense either. (I will say that Carole Bundy might have been the absolute best example of a teacher in my kids K-12 experience!) I imagine the same expense structure may be true of instrumental music. But don't many of the "clubs" with "advisers" require fees, presumably to cover any supplemental contracts?
    Also, I don't think the purpose of MS/HS sports in general is to develop professional athletes, or even scholarship athletes. They are intended to "round out" an education, as well as to contribute to "school spirit". those are two good things, but the costs have to be factored in. When the choice is to cut educational programs or cut sports, that should be a no brainer. But let's keep in mind that those are not the only two choices. Pigeon holing situations like this only show a lack of creativity in coming up with solutions. many parochial and other private schools require parents to "volunteer" in some fashion or another - sports and such could require the same thing, be it in hands on or in fund raising. As Rick continually points out, it seems we have larger staffs for some sports than some colleges - that just does not make sense, particularly in the current economic climate.
    Just one of many, many things that should be addressed. This isn't, or should not be, a question of none or all, for anything.

  35. Anon - loved the *cough * cough comment. At the same time, it would be nice if members of the board would occasionally respond to e-mails. There is both limited time for comments at the meetings, as well as, dare I say, a distinct look of non-interest on some of the boards faces during the comments portion. I don't expect them to take the time during the meeting to respond in depth, but has anyone here ever received any type of official followup to their comments? Or even maybe a "thanks for caring" e-mail? Somehow, I sincerely doubt it. I hate to be cynical here, but I really don't think they care what we think!

  36. hilliard city hilliard memorial middle school $90,855.00 7.00 184
    the above person worked less than most people and made almost twice the average. after looking at the data and not even looking at names i could pick out who were the teachers and who did the work i.e. secretaries, mechanics etc. those are the ones that had 8 hour work days and worked a full year.

    Pay and compenstion must be addressed there are many examples of our teachers getting paid quite generous salaries and working another job in the summer becuase they are "laid off" gee would this teacher really leave if asked to have a pay cut or be laid off ?? not at that salary nowhere are they going to get as good as that for so little time.... I guess it still gets my goat when i see the figures and hear how are teachers struggle ( according to the union ) but you dont hear them going to bat for the secretary or the maintenance worker... those are the real workers that are the unsung heros. It is pitiful what they are paid for the time they put in... sure they may not be degreed but maybe they are.. Sorry got off track..

    Paul.... the band has a booster too. i think there could be "alternate" funding for these activities.. Also is there anything in the rules that says we cant contract out teaching positions...this saves money on personnel costs and shifts it back to the contractors main company. Governments contract out work why cant the school?

  37. I keep coming back to this point that we're either running a public school district, or we're not. Look, I've said for a long time that I think the government should get out of the K-12 education business, except to provide a safety net so that every kid has access to a decent education.

    But if we're going to run public schools with taxpayer money, then the opportunities offered by those schools should not restricted to those with the ability to pay extra. This becomes a regressive tax that, like all regressive taxes, hits the lowest income brackets the hardest.

    When such opportunities are limited to those with the financial wherewithal, what we really have is a private school sitting on the foundation of a public school that is underwritten by the taxpayers. In other words, some are looking for a Wellington, CSG, St Charles experience for their kids, but want others to help pay for it.

    So how do you prevent that? You fund everything with taxes that are shared across the community, in proportion to wealth. No extra fees.

    Or you quit pretending they're public schools, and convert to a privately operated education system.

  38. Sorry, but I think we are in way too deep to ever "get out" of the education business. Like any enterprise, though, it has to adapt to the times. The growth in expenses is tied in some part to the "extras" of things as varied as gifted and special education to the inflation of sports programs. When the economy is cranking along, as it was during the HCSD growth spurt, folks did not mind so much paying for those things. We all got so caught up in that that we turned a blind eye to the bottom line, and now it is biting us firmly in the posterior. So now is the time, past time actually, to adapt. Education, for all, has to come first. Then we look at what else we want, see how much we have to pay for it, and then make some choices. Many of us believe the wrong choices are being made. It wasn't the voters who took away the programs the kids will be missing in the fall - it was the administration.

  39. Hillerdite, I agree with your comments, and it makes one wonder why you would not get a response.
    Now that the levy situation is behind us, I certainly want to move forward as Paul has suggested. However, the elephant in the room is stubborn and I wonder if they (the board) (district) (employee barganining units ) will even want to engage with the community to talk about the real challenges, or do they hope everyone goes away and it is business as usual.

    My hope is we see hundreds of new faces willing to commit time and resources to making positive suggestions, come up with alternate ideas, and
    affect as few programs and personnel as possible. If we dont, the risk is huge.

    Given the economic climate, we cant have business as usual, with the usual group controlling things, and leaving out the
    rest of the village.

    I intend to start a specific plan to make adjustments and a good start might be a community group that will look at things line by line, program by program, expense by expense.
    Not much fun, but a responsible way of looking at the big picture. It is nice to say cut 10%, but what does that entail. The question is will the elephant let us ?????????

  40. (PART 1) Paul I sorta agree with you...though i do think it is up to the communities to provide an education there is quite a difference between rural and cities... poor and rich communities...If the state truly wants to fund education it cannot say you are rich so you only get so much it must be done equitable (sp) that means if the state says we are giving 5000 dollars per pupil to teach the children then it should be over all schools rich and poor...One of the reasons we have the lottery, however that money seems to get shifted elsewhere each year, was to offset this and put money into the districts hands. This money was supposed to supplement the funding the state already gives each school. in reality they take the money that was supposed to go to the schools use it elsewhere and say see the schools get the lottery money...While i hope that children get a quality education, I see many opportunities in the district to cut... as an example... i looked at the 2011-12 davidson course offering book.. it reads like a college catalog ( and they get college credit for some classes) rather than a H.S. course offering. there were 4 languages offered... spanish, french, german and chinese, while the chinese class is an interesting one do we need 4 different languages? is there really that many kids in these classes? each of those languages had 5 different class offerings...lets cut these down... say like spanish one, spanish 2 and ap spanish...we do not need spanish 1,2,3,4,5 and AP.

  41. (Part 2)My other thought is do we really need to be teaching kids college classes... that is what colleges are for..not high schools..while i understand that some kids are more brilliant than others we kinda dilute the HS experience if we are giving them a full year of college courses before they have left HS. This is money wasted. I see ways that the school can restructure including offering certain classes at certain schools... arts at one maybe tech at another and math and science at the last...our children sorely lack math ans science skills to compete in this "global" world.. lets get back to reality and teach classes that give our kids the basics needed to enter college..not teach college when they should be doing the basics...same goes for sports cut some leave others this give opportunities to all to participate that wants. less is more... quality or quantity...i see quantity at our schools not quality...and this comes from a person who has lived all over the country and some foreign ones also. My children went to schools from rich and poor neighborhoods..the problem being this is the most expensive one they were ever in and the quality lacks..I see no leadership and only a board that has the teachers union hands in their pockets and they pull out wads of cash..Even many moons ago when i went to school we had courses at the college level.. the only thing was not everyone got to take them...only ones that had excelled in lower level classes.. these were small classes that expected you to apply and spend hours on homework..just like we knew who was going to college and who was is a natural progression... not everyone wants or needs to go to college. if we have only college educated people then we will have no mechanics, resturant workers, military members etc ( no offense to anyone) at almost 50 i am now finishing my degree..I was lucky /unlucky got a scholarship ( based on academics go figure) went to college and failed a class due to a medical emergency thus ending my college days at that time. It was the best thing i went to the military and spent over 20 years serving my country. we didnt get to work 184 days a year or get paid 90000 dollars most of us scrapped by and held it all together on less than the average private sector worker makes. 30 plus hour days and no overtime hot and cold it didnt matter becuase we were upholding the rights of everyone under the Constitution. Time for the district to buckle down and make serious cuts not ones that just are there to piss off parents of the kids in school and make them vote cause suzi wont get to play lacrosse.

  42. Taking away extracurriculars or making them pay to play is unconscionable. Where is the pride? I voted no b/c I expect more, not less. We are supposed to give our kids more than we had, not take things away...

    Retired Navy, you are in your 40s and are collecting a government pension. I would watch where you throw stones....

  43. "but the bottom line is they are getting paid an average 70K per year salary for 184 work days. That would equate to 94K per year for the average employee who works 250 days per year"

    "hilliard city hilliard memorial middle school $90,855.00 7.00 184
    the above person worked less than most people and made almost twice the average. after looking at the data and not even looking at names i could pick out who were the teachers and who did the work i.e. secretaries, mechanics etc. those are the ones that had 8 hour work days and worked a full year."

    Wow, just wow. The complete ignorance of some is beyond belief. If you think teachers only work 184 days a year or the above person works less than some others you commented really are making yourself look stupid. How do you really know this? This is the kind of "old school" ignorance that amazes me. Do you have any idea what it take to be a teacher? Do you know the qualifications required in this day and age? Do you know the state standards? The license procedures? The state code of conduct that teachers are under? The amount of education it takes to be licensed and to continue to keep their license during their career?
    Hey, lighten the load, back off the pressure of having to perform at a high level so that the distict can get less funding from the state because their scores drop(thats how some funding works!) get the state to drop their licensing procedures as well as the code of conduct, and teachers would be happy to take pay cuts! Until then, they are well deserving of what they earn. Please just stop this BLIND judgement. If not, post your jobs and salaries so other can make similar judgements about you and your professions.
    And those who think we should just drop sports and other extra curriculars, have obviously never played or participated in those. You don't realize how important those things are to a LARGE number of students. Those activities create a well rounded student, the things that colleges want to see when those student are applying. Same goes for those AP college courses. Schools cant' win for lose with some. You want to take those things away, and others will whine because schools don't offer enough and its hurting their childs chances for a scholarship or admittance into a college. Some of you honestly have NO IDEA what goes on within a school system and all the HARD work that all the staff, administrators, support staff do to give all children the opportunities they deserve. Take those away, and all we willb e left with is a ghost town with kids running the streets! Maybe if some of you want to do away with certain things, maybe its you who needs to MOVE out of Hilliard to some of those districts who have less taxes, and a lesser school system. You do have that choice.
    BTW Mr. Retired Navy sure must have been nice to retire after ONLY 20 yrs of service. Kudos to you for your service. But from what I know, service people have it pretty good, meals paid for, room and board paid, travel the world on tax payer money, retire in your early 40's. about living the life! Must be nice! How do you enjoy my view and judgement of your profession? ;)

  44. I read an article in the Dispatch a few weeks ago that detailed the true cost of sports in, I think, Pickerington schools. The total cost, as a percentage of the overall budget, was not that huge.

    Hilliard could affort sports and music and all the extras for all, if the board would CHOOSE to not spend just about every stinkin' penny they have on salaries and benefits. It's not a revenue's an allocation problem!!

  45. Retired Navy - some good points but I do have a problem with your equitable funding from the state. Given that the state has saddled us with property taxes as the main source of funding our schools, it is also a given that some districts are simply not going to have the tax base to properly support their schools. That isn't fair to their students. I don't have a huge problem with paying more locally to make up for those who just can't. Obviously, the funding methods should change - I am one who agrees that a combination of earned income/property tax might be the way to go. But that would still leave many rural districts short. So that is part of the revenue side of the problem.
    I do agree with looking at the course offerings - as Paul points out we seem to have champagne tastes on a beer budget. My own 19 year old was saying last night that some of the advanced foreign language classes had 10 students per class - and exactly why are we offering French IV in high school anyway? As Rick points out, why so many coaches? I reveled as much as anyone when Davidson won a title in my kids freshman year and played for another her senior year. But we pay the head coach $90,000 annually and who knows how much more for the assistants? Sure, they sell tickets but I am thinking this is not OSU raking in millions to pay for not only it's football program but a host of other sports. It is just another cost center. And all cost centers need some scrutiny.
    My kids both got a pretty good education in Hilliard schools. Most of that time we seemed to get by with a levy every 4-5 years in spite of rampant growth. We need to find our way back to that.
    BTW- USN 1973-1977. Thanks for your service.

  46. Retired Navy..your citicizing teachers pay and their jobs? This coming from someone who traveled the world, ate free meals, had free housing and was able to retire in their early 40's after only 20yrs of service. All of this funded by the tax payers of the US. How ironic. How does it feel to be judged? ;)

  47. Please - enough of the personal attacks.

  48. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  49. Like I said, enough of the personal attacks. Please take that kind of dialog to the Dispatch/Topix forums.

    On this blog, we're looking to communicate information and discuss solutions.

  50. Paul, can you try to get a more detailed list of the cuts for the coffee tomorrow? I have requested info a few times and about the only responses other than vote for the levy that I have received are the ones that you were able to get for me. The admin knows and has known as they had numbers and dollars associated with each item. They just didn't share. We can ask better questions and possibly suggest alternatives if we are fully informed. There is a lot of misinformation out there right now. For example, my 7th grader was surprised when during a language arts class discussion on the cuts his teacher informed the students that Honors Science 9 will not be offered now. That differed from what we were originally told. I followed up with the Gifted Facilitator and learned that the teacher was mistaken but Compacted Science 7 will be cut. We all know that the classroom teacher cuts will actually be a lot of reassigning and not hiring new staff and not truly firing the full count given. But more specifics would be helpful.

  51. @Hillirdite -
    "Given that the state has saddled us with property taxes as the main source of funding our schools,"

    This is untrue. The state left it up to local districts to determine how to pay for education. Me, I like that, but it isn't just property taxes.

    We need to explore an income tax. Yes, there is one large downside: when a recession hits, schools lose money.

    So what. What are we all talking about here? That's right, out of control spending on salaries and compensation benefits.

    Trust me, it would be considerably easier to impose pay reductions / freezes on district employees if we were funded by an income tax and income was down because people in the district were hurting.

    And, if people saw it going out of their pay check, I suspect a lot more parents would be actively involved in keeping the board and the administration in check.

    Food for thought.

  52. Paul,
    Thank you for hopefully getting everyone back on track.

    You asked in your posting that there be more participation. In my view, this district is not different that Columbus schools regarding the lack of public data on the budget. How much info was the board provided before its vote on March 28 on what would be included on the cut list and why? Beyond your statements in the board meeting, what did you ask for? Good article in the Dispatch this morning about the budget process at Columbus public schools (or lack thereof). What the article doesn't say is that this is happening everywhere, including here. But at least now there some Columbus board members are demanding answers. So no wonder that we are in the mess we are get the government you deserve and if the public doesn't start to demand more through its board, we won't get more. Yes, this means voting for those who will fight for more open processes. The administration and board will take the path of least resistance if we let them. It can't go on like this.

  53. All, WoW I did not mean to start a firestorm , If you think my retirement is a lot thanks!!!! less than 15k, I was making a comparison where most military members work over 24 hours a day 365 days many times away from your family for months on end not scheduled 7 hours a day 184 days a year and then go get a summer job becuase they are laid off ( yes they do that look at the paper classified ads) ..Sure i did choose that profession for that I am grateful.

    I am not saying teachers dont deserve a fair pay. I am saying that our costs for salaries and extras goes beyond fair pay.. If the district cannot reign in costs we are doomed.

    Part of reigning in costs is to cut course offerings. this is a simple fact. I for one believe in the basics.. there are many children out there that cannot write their own name in cursive because it is not even taught anymore at lots of schools... Our country as a whole has a problem with science and math.. those are standard classes just like english. those should be the building blocks. '

    Another point was that kids should not automatically get college credit for HS courses. HS PREPARES you for college not gives you credit for every class you take. This seems to me that we would automatically pay a higher level to the teachers due to the fact these are college classes. If we have teachers that in reality are college professors then that is a huge cost..

    Foreign language courses are a must to round out the students, which some feel i am not about. I question the fact that there is 5 course offerings for each language and we offer 4 languages. I applaud the school for offering chinese i think it is bold.. but unless we have them also teaching other languages does it make sense to have 4 language offerings in the same school.

    And looking at course offerings is a way to cut some of the budget. Those teachers who were teaching those classes then can be reassigned teaching the basics of Math and Science.

    To stop the others that will complain that those teachers are specilized and we cant let them teach another subject then we as a district need to think about having certain things at certain schools to prepare our children for adult life.

  54. Heather: To my knowledge, none of the administrators will be attending the Coffee tomorrow, so I would worry about having any of us on the Board be informed sufficiently to discuss details of the cuts.

    My understanding is that in the teacher ranks, it's pretty much the whole crew of new teachers we hired at the beginning of the year, because that's the way the teachers' union wants it - seniority, not effectiveness, dictates who goes first.

    But that doesn't mean that the classes those new teachers teach are the ones that will be affected. I anticipate that teachers will be reassigned and redistributed, and have not seen the details of that plan.

  55. Maybe someone here can help me find some numbers. I've checked the financial reports on the district website and am trying to find the figures on the ODE website but am coming up short. The House passed an amendment yesterday which will require districts to spend the same amount on gifted programs that they spent in 2009. I would love to find the amount that HCSD spent. I can only find it lumped under Special Instruction with a note that 13.5 FTE positions were funded for gifted services.

  56. As i have said Paul The leadership of the administrators is lacking if they are not going to show up..I think it is time to revisit the Super's contract

  57. Paul,

    Did you see the article in the Dispatch this morning regarding the House approval of the state budget -

    One of the amendments approved requires "schools to spend on gifted programs the same amount They spent in 2009."

    Would that be interpreted as "if the schools still have a gifted program", or is this going to mean Hilliard's proposed cuts may have to be reworked?

  58. Some tough dialogue, however I see this as hopefully more and more people will become engaged.

    There is a lot of misinformation sometimes, but that comes from 1) People becoming engaged,
    2) Lack of information forthcoming 3) Why, because the status quo wants business as usual.

    In the next months I am sure we are going to hear some questions from some new folks that we think might be out of touch, outlandish, uninformed. But, at least more people are becoming engaged and that is what we need.
    I think all of us want a great education for our children and for the community. Just going back to basics is not the answer either. But we can make some short term financial adjustments that puts the district on sound financial footing, and then we CAN pass new funding as we will be confident and assurred we have made the necessary changes to insure a sustainable financial plan.

    A new theme in our district must be that the schools must be returned to the community.
    We have current control by special interests.
    The contract must be updated to include MORE
    community members, take a look at the contract and what constitutes who can be on the bargaining committee or observers. If the current bargaining members for the community
    (board) are endorsed by the bargaining units, how do we get proper representation. This process has to be more open (not closed) to the community who are paying the freight.

    I encourage everyone to be at the coffee and subsequent board meetings on a consistent basis.
    Stand up and question things you are concerned about. If you are uncomfortable write it down and read it and leave copies for the board. And tell the board that by speaking up YOU dont want your kids to be affected by WHAT YOUR CONSTITUIONAL RIGHT IS.

    And about its for the kids? ! Yes we as parents, grandparents, guardians, et al KNOW THAT. They are OUR KIDS. Let the adults work out the details, and keep our kids out of the crossfire. If the board will not support this
    and implement appropriate measures, then they need to take a hike.

    This is our community, These are the communities schools, These are OUR KIDS, not to be used as pawns to create unsustainable financial growth.

  59. How much info was the board provided before its vote on March 28 on what would be included on the cut list and why?
    All we saw was the cut list in the same detail as was presented to the public. Next thing I knew, it was on the agenda for a vote. As I stated then, I vote NO on the resolution to approve this cut list, primarily because the resolution made the cuts "automatic" in spite of the fact that at that point in time we still didn't know what was going to happen with the state funding (it got worse), and I wanted us to have a chance to discuss it further before implementation.

  60. Kicking ths can said....
    Here in lies one of the problems, the seniority issue must be dealt with ;Union ,union,unions. Bring in some new blood to transfuse out some older teachers is a great place to start. Hey Paul, I heard that 2 members of the Board won't be there tomorrow... is this true ??

  61. Old Navy:

    I think you're right that we're eventually going to have to look at the course catalog and determine whether it can continue to be as rich as it is.

    There is, I think, a natural overlap between the most advanced high school classes and foundational college course. If the college a kid attends decides to grant credit, or allow the student to gain proficiency credit through testing, that seems like a good thing. It can save a kid a lot of money to get college credit.

    But that doesn't mean we shouldn't look at the economics. Which institution can deliver this education more cost effectively, a public high school or a public university? I don't think the answer is obvious when we spend $11,000/yr/student in our district. Is that much different than college tuition?

  62. Paul, just to add to the cut list info and vote. The list was emailed to parents a few days before Spring Break so I know many did not study it or even open it until after the break. And the vote, well that happened at a 'Special' Board Meeting (read not on the original agenda) the first day back to class (and work for many parents) after Spring Break. So many in the district had no idea. Paul attempted to postpone the vote to get more details and community input but no one even gave a second to his motion.

  63. Hillirdite: Not ignoring you - the comments are coming faster that I can keep up - a wonderful thing.

    I agree that a primary goal is a way to find a funding/spending strategy that reduces the frequency of levies. But we're in a transition phase right now where the state is giving us less, but taking just as much.

    It would be one thing if the Governor would say "hey Hilliard School District, I'm reducing your collective state income tax burden by $15m/yr so you can spend it on your schools."

    But that's not what's happening. The state is going to keep collecting pretty much its full load of income taxes AND is taking away $million in funding to us. Double whammy on all of us.

    According to the latest CUPP report, published by the Ohio Dept of Ed, our state funding amounts to 41% of the total state income tax liability of the residents of our district, providing 34% of our total funding.

    It could be worse, we could be Dublin, which gets back only 11% from the state, providing 22% of their funding.

    By the way, for folks who wonder how Hamilton Local has been able to go so long without a levy, a good part of that is because their state funding, which provides 66% of their total funding, is 293% of their state income tax burden. The state funding for such districts has generally been going up every year.

    Headin' for the gedunk...

  64. Paul-

    I just want to thank you for trying to help the residents of Hilliard feel like they have a voice, understand the facts, and move forward. I hope this open door policy transcends through to board meetings and conversations with Mr. McVey.

  65. The last I heard, all Board members other than Dave Lundregan are going to attend the Coffee tomorrow.

  66. "Which institution can deliver this education more cost effectively, a public high school or a public university? I don't think the answer is obvious when we spend $11,000/yr/student in our district. Is that much different than college tuition?"

    Paul the answer is obvious to me... colleges are not funded by property taxes In my opinion why am I paying for someone to take a year of college when they are in HS. That burden should be placed on the parent of the student. If there is an opportunity for the child due to exceling in HS and having professed profiecency in HS ie SAT ACT OGE, to take college classes then they should be moved along and out of the public school system.. the tv shows Doogie Howser and House come to mind..

    After going back to college i was amazed at the number of HS graduates that have to take remidial math and english prior to taking the real course, these courses do not give them college credit. they are to bring them up to the college level. This sickens me.. and yes there were some Hilliard kids in there also along with Dublin and Columbus..

    As a HR person, cost control of personnel has to be a priority or the company fails.. yes i compared a school to a company. The product being the children. I would love to be able to thumb our noses at the state and say we dont need your money because we know how to spend what we have and do it well. The problem is we cant do that.

    another you pointed out the old adage last in first out because of the union. this is the problem and factors like performance SHOULD be taken in account prior laying a person off. If we are stuck with an underperformer becuase they have been at the job for 5 years it only hurts because sooner or later we will only have underperformers working.

  67. Kicking the can said ....
    @ Heatherdu , Get This - My child is in the gifted program and it was an arduous process. The child must meet several criteria , thus alot of testing and so forth. The Teacher takes part and is a big part in this process. Along the way a teacher told me that if my child had a different need (such as a language barrier)it is alot easier to get the help ( ie... Money approval), being that all the money comes from the same pot !!! I said SAY WHAT !! Soooooo, the Special Instruction must encompass many things. I hope many things come to light in this NEW DAY of our School funding.

  68. I just have one what point will this be a "done deal", as far as any cuts that will take place? I happen to have a child who is athletically inclined (for which I will not apologize...he was born that way). I have no problem paying extra for him to persue that which is his strength and what gives him more reason to focus on academics and provides him much needed confidence as he matures.

  69. @Heatherdu asked:
    Did you see the article in the Dispatch this morning regarding the House approval of the state budget -

    One of the amendments approved requires "schools to spend on gifted programs the same amount They spent in 2009."

    Would that be interpreted as "if the schools still have a gifted program", or is this going to mean Hilliard's proposed cuts may have to be reworked?

    I haven't seen the exact language, but I would assume that if a district had cut gifted education but was spending $1m a year in 2009, it would be required to reinstate the program ...

  70. Then why are we even discussing it if the budget is a done deal already?

  71. Anon - maybe because all they have done is provide a short-term "solution" to a long term problem.

  72. Because the cuts made are a one year fix - at the most - depending on what happens with the final state budget. The extension of the two union contracts expire 12/31/11, so some kind of new deal needs to be negotiated there as well, and the form of that deal could be significantly influenced by what comes out of the General Assy over the next couple of weeks.

    All of this will influence whether or not a levy is needed in November, and if so, how much. This will be one of the most challenging years ever from a governance standpoint. Don't check out now!

  73. Navy,

    Your reasoning and conclusions are clearly coming from a very selfish perspective. And they indicate that you dont quite have a grasp on the big picture.

    It reminds me of the people who dont want to pay for government subsidized health insurance. I dont necessarily think it is a good idea. But we are already bearing the costs of the uninsured through higher premiums and billing rates. The question should be how we are going to get more return on the money we already spend.

    I am growing weary of those on my side of the debate jealously criticizing teacher pay. Even worse is when they encourage others to lower our their expectation of the district.

    I am not going to settle for that.

  74. T:

    I too grow weary of the assault on teacher pay.

    The thing about teacher pay is that it's the result of a negotiation. They choose to bargain collectively rather than individually, and that's their right. In either case, it's a negotiation with two sides each trying to get the best deal possible.

    Putting aside whether or not you like the tactics which are sometimes used (e.g. work to the rule, threat of a strike), the negotiations setting their compensation didn't come to an end until the School Board signed off on it.

    It doesn't make sense to blame the representatives of the teachers for getting a good deal for their members. Your wrath (or thanks) should be directed to those representing YOU on these negotiations - the School Board.

  75. I didn't actually ask the question about the interpretation of the gifted amendment in terms of whether the program still exists, etc. but it is a good one. First of all, the amendment still needs to pass in the Ohio Senate so it is not a done deal but it was definitely a positive step. I would think it means that if $1M of services were offered in 2009 then $1M of services need to be offered now. That does not mean that they have to offer the exact same Focus and Exploration programs, etc. Just my guesswork here though. BUT, it is the opportunity to get questions like that AND the needs and desires of our children to the board so that if changes are needed the correct questions are asked and decisions made.

    So Paul, obviously many voters would like more discussion on the cuts like the elimination of Middle School sports. Is there a procedure to get it back on the agenda?

  76. The President and Superintendent control the prepared agenda, but any member can ask the President to add something. If the President doesn't want to, a member may make a motion to add to the agenda (this happens at the beginning of the meeting), but the motion must be seconded and passed by a majority of the members present.

  77. I grow weary with both the "assault" and with the comeback argument that we are "jealous" of teachers pay. Yes, there are some who are jealous, not only of teachers pay but any public sector workers pay. But please don't lump us all together! My often stated view is that I wish we could pay teachers more, at least the good ones; and I also wish I could pay my own employees more. But we operate our business according to a pretty defined budget
    and for 3 years, our employees had no raises while we fought through the economic doldrums which have hit my industry particularly hard in Central Ohio. The two owners took rather substantial reductions in compensation at the same time. We did not lose a single employee, we kept them all working, and today they are getting the benefit of sticking it out since we have somewhat turned the corner. That is really all I ask of both the unions and the board - keep as many as possible working and educating our students, and when things turn around, as they inevitably do, handle compensation based on a legitimate forecast - ideally knowing the money will be there before it is promised. The board simply must pay more attention to the 88% part of the budget, as articulated by the A & A committee.

  78. Hillirdite:

    The example of how you saved your business is exactly what I'd like to see here. The leaders led by example, and your team accepted the need for their sacrifice as well - because they trust you and believe that you would be fair when the economic picture got better.

    There's that 'trust' word again...

  79. I agree Paul the blame lays strickly on the school board that signed off on the agreement..Unfortunately the current one save you paul has a blanket Yes vote on everything...

    To all of the ones that say i dont get it and that if you dont like it move.. i wish it was that simple..if someone wants to buy a house that is more than the market value is right now let me know.. I will gladly move down the road to a lower taxed area...have the plans in place already. Or better yet take my tax burden and pay it .. in fact if all the ones that want to see your taxes go up want to fund it i say go ahead make a contribution equal to your tax payment now! into the school fund so you can feel good. its for the children you should be able to bear a bigger share since it is for the children.
    Spending must be addressed. the district cannot sustain all of these raises and step increases each year. We cannot have all of these classes.. busing still needs to be addressed as i see 3 different hilliard buses at the same time down my street.

    off subject but for For T i have lived with socialized medicine my whole life and it doesnt work unless you like motrin..15 minutes no more no less get them in and out..

    on a last note if everyone like me wants to move and can Hilliard will be worse off.. Lets say all of these people say screw it and give their keys back to the bank... now there is lost revenue...who is going to bear the brunt of the share then...???
    And on a very last note yes i am a card carrying union member also so there!

  80. I have read through a decent amount of this site and find a lot of common sense here. One thought I keep coming back to is that a point that keeps being made (which appears obvious when you actually look at the details) is that compensation/benefits is where the money is. I personally get ticked off with what I perceive as scare tactics of advertising cuts of things that sound popular (gifted programs, etc.) vs. addressing the biggest expense. I find it difficult to support a levy right before negotiating a new contract. Myself, I am much more willing to support paying more if I see those in charge seriously addressing the big issues. Not trusting that one day they will or talking about some day doing it. Actually doing it. The same things applies on a national level. Approving a big new slice of revenue right before contract negotiations appears to take away some leverage that I'd like to see those negotiating on my behalf use.

  81. Hilliardite hit it on the head a DEFINED budget.. The union must be made aware that there is no money and that they must make concessions or there may not be a school district. The Board must push and push hard for these concessions but they must be realistic and have a defined period. If it means hey teachers union we want you to take a pay cut for 2 years to get us out of this mess so be it.. but lay it out.. personnel cuts, (which no one wins) or you have your job alibet a little less than youo wanted. This goes for the administrators also.. they must by example be the FIRST ones to do this so that they can lead by example.

  82. Paul - I don't think anyone is jealous of teacher pay. I think we're pissed off that they "earn" high salaries simply by being teachers a long time.

    None of them have ever been judged on their merits, except when they escaped year 2 and gained tenure.

    We have good teachers in Hilliard, and in some cases we have incredibly good teachers. But we also have some that are not good, and in pretty much any other industry would have been kicked to the curb a long time ago.

    But they earn the same as their peers who are orders of magnitude better than them.

    And sorry, but I don't buy the argument that they choose to collectively bargain. Today they have a choice -- join the union or don't become a teacher.

    I wonder how many would stay in the union if it became voluntary?

  83. Our teachers don't have to join the union, and we have a number of teachers in our district who have chosen not to. However, the law gives the union the power to be the exclusive bargaining agent for all teachers anyway. And according to that contract, teachers who chose not to join the union have to pay a "fair share" fee to the union anyway, ostensibly to reimburse the union for the cost of negotiating on their behalf.

  84. So from a practical standpoint, your statement is correct - even if you're not in the union, the union will be negotiating for you anyway.

    I'm really talking about on the macro basis - if they wanted too, the teachers in our district could chose to close down their local and go it on their own, including negotiating individual agreements. There are still a bunch of laws that dictate various components of a teacher's contract, but still a bunch of latitude outside that.

    But it comes down to trust again. Hillirdite's employees knew that they'd have the same boss in the future if they stick with the company, and so could wager that their trust would be rewarded.

    In school systems, there is a legitimate fear that the players and the rules can change quickly (e.g. how quickly the Kasich administration and General Assy have been able to push through a ton of legislation), so there is some wisdom in having a contract that transcends such times.

    As I've said many times, most people are thinking about what the system might look like after radical change has been assimilated.

    But coming from a professional environment where change was complex and had high stakes, thinking through the change process is critical. Otherwise you end up with a system which is neither the old nor the new, and instead an unmanageable mess that's prone to fail.

    That's my main beef with SB5 by the way. Not that the future system it envisions isn't potentially better, but because the transition process hasn't been given enough thought. It could end up like Gov Strickland's EBM funding system - only half implemented (if that much) and consequently disfunctional.

  85. Just in from the Ohio School Boards Association:

    Amended Substitute House Bill (HB) 153 was voted out of the House late last night along party lines. While the debate on the House floor was long, very few amendments were added to the bill.

    One provision affecting school districts, proposed by Rep. Ron Maag (R-Lebanon), was the addition of an amendment that would reinstate gifted education spending requirements. Gov. John Kasich’s original proposal had eliminated the Ohio Evidence Based Model provisions, including gifted education reporting and spending rules. The House amendment would use fiscal year 2009 gifted funding levels and require that districts fund gifted programs accordingly. Our organizations will be including opposition to this provision in our testimony to the Senate Finance Committee next week.

  86. - "I don't think anyone is jealous of teacher pay. I think we're pissed off that they "earn" high salaries simply by being teachers a long time.

    None of them have ever been judged on their merits, except when they escaped year 2 and gained tenure.

    We have good teachers in Hilliard, and in some cases we have incredibly good teachers. But we also have some that are not good, and in pretty much any other industry would have been kicked to the curb a long time ago.

    But they earn the same as their peers who are orders of magnitude better than them.

    And sorry, but I don't buy the argument that they choose to collectively bargain. Today they have a choice -- join the union or don't become a teacher.

    I wonder how many would stay in the union if it became voluntary?"

    Only some partial truths here. Yes, teachers are in fact evaluated on their performance, contrary to the belief of some. Some are put on plans/notice when their performance is not up to par. Some have in fact been released/fired. That is fact. The view that this never happens, is false. The union only provides "due process" when this situation arises. It doesn't save anyone like some want to believe.
    As for teacher pay in accordance to the time they have provided service, yes that is true. But don't kid yourself, those in other industries with or without unions, do this as well! Are you going to tell me someone out of college is going to make as much as the guy who has been at the company for 25yrs? Absolutely NOT. Sorry, but the tenure/pay thing is over overblown in my humble opinion. The same thing happens in most area's of employment.
    And I find it a bit distrurbing that many are questioning the quality of teachers in Hilliard, a school district that has consistantly been ranked extremely high in the state of Ohio. Are there some not so good teachers? Yes, I am sure there are. Just as there are some poor employees that keep their jobs in just about any large company. Do some get kicked to the curb? Yes. Do all? Absolutely not. That is the reality of it. So please don't feed me that bs. It is far from a perfect world out there like some want to make others believe. I have seen it first hand. But again, looking at the BIG picture, Hilliard schools are currently doing nothing but GREAT things educationally and in many other areas as well.
    I can also tell you, in this day and age, most would choose to belong to the union for a number of positive reasons. Sorry, but this union busting that is going on, is complete nonsense started by our governor. Some people have no idea what good/great things the union has done in Hilliard. Things behind the scenes such as food drives for the food pantry, book drives for the less fortunate and provide scholarships to graduating seniors Those are just a few examples of the MANY good/great things the union does that people are not aware of. How many knew that the union changed insurance carriers every year for approximately 10yrs. Why? So they could save the district/ tax payers MILLIONS of dollars. Which it in fact did! They do in fact, pay it forward. Its just not reported in this negative driven media society we live in.

  87. Thanks for weighing in. For the record, and I've said this many times before, I'm not anti-union. I grew up in an industrial/blue collar world where the unions did much to ensure the safety and decent treatment of workers.

    But those same unions also drove labor costs to the point that much of the industry in my hometown (Charleston WV) is gone. Those jobs weren't lost to China or India, they were lost to Texas and Louisiana, where the companies could hire a non-union workforce as well as enjoy tax benefits.

    But school districts can't move. We have to stay here and try to work things out. And in the case of the teachers' unions, the clients are the kids. So there is automatically a lot of stress built into the the system.

    By the way, that story about switching insurance carriers every year didn't have a happy ending. The last time it was put up for bid, the other carriers decided to take a pass, and the district's carrier, sensing no competition, wanted to jack rates 30%.

    A more reasonable increase was negotiated, but the following year the Board decided to go self-insured. That's not necessarily cheaper - it depends on the actual claims history - but it takes away the risk of not being able to buy affordable insurance at all.

  88. As an employer, running a small business, I will admit to not having a lot of use for unions in general. But I will admit that managing 18 folks is a heck of a lot different than 1200 so I will give the schools unions the benefit of the doubt. I don't believe that they look out for the long term interests of their members though - it has been more what can we squeeze out of the board for the next three years and that has a negative impact on the long term viability of the schools. The Columbus FOP president was quoted in the Dispatch, during the SB5 brouhaha, "of course if we have to give back on pension pickups, we will be asking for higher salaries to make up for it". That, to me, shows a severe lack of seeing the big picture. Instant gratification is so yesteryear! Let's get the foundation shored up first, OK?

  89. I dont think anyone is saying there are not good teachers nor are they saying we have crappy teachers who milk the system.. what they are saying is pay and compensation is out of control. There are some that think Federal workers make boocoo bucks. I can tell you they dont. those figures that say the average salary is 80-100k is not indicitive here in centeral ohio it is mainly in the DC area where all the high paid people are. I am not saying the Feds cant trim down some of those GS-13 and 14's (high ranking civilians General Schedule) I think they can and should.. just like our district there is fat in the compensation. Fed workers get step increases the first 4 year every year then every 2 years the next 4 then every 3 the next four then nothing.. if you do not move up in "grade" then you will be stuck until you retire.

    As far as SB5 it gives our local govenrment union workers the same rights as the feds ie cant strike. the only thing is they can still negotiate their pay which federal workers can not.
    this stops the teachers union from holding over the heads of parents and the community that unless you give us what we want we wont teach. They should not be allowed to do that they are paid by our money accountable to the public via the school board.

    There have been some concessions by the union however by them switching carriers all the time runs up administrative costs. savings are then not realized.

    I would really like to hear from the Union, Mr Mcvey and the School board on LONG TERM fixes not short term fixes.

  90. "By the way, that story about switching insurance carriers every year didn't have a happy ending. The last time it was put up for bid, the other carriers decided to take a pass, and the district's carrier, sensing no competition, wanted to jack rates 30%"

    But the fact of the matter was, that over that period of time, the union did in fact save the distict millions of dollars because they were willing to make that change every year. Yes, it did come to a head, no question. But the point being, the union was looking out for the best interest of the district and tax payers.
    And lets not forget something here, teachers are not exempt for from taxes as well.

  91. @Anonymous opined:
    "Are you going to tell me someone out of college is going to make as much as the guy who has been at the company for 25yrs? Absolutely NOT. Sorry, but the tenure/pay thing is over overblown in my humble opinion. "

    Sorry, but it isn't overblown because you are not comparing apples, you're comparing apples to cherries.

    I'm talking about 2 teachers with the same length of service earning the same amount, regardless of talent.

    Sure, you (usually) pay newer employees less than experienced employees, but in virtually every private sector, non-union business out there, I can pick 2 20-year employees, and I'd be *stunned* if they earned exactly the same pay.

    That's the point I am trying to make. Once you gain tenure, unless you really suck, you're guaranteed raises every year, not based on your performance, but based on the fact you meet minimum standards to not be fired. (Does Hilliard actually ever fire anyone?)

    What *you* are missing is that when you have a set-up like that, there's no incentive for anyone to go the extra mile other than personal satisfaction.

    I'm not saying some/many/all teachers don't go that extra mile; I'm saying they have no incentive to do so (financial or otherwise) and we (the parents and taxpayers) have no know real way of knowing if they are or are not.

  92. You make a good point about the insurance story: that since the taxpayers cover 90% of the premiums, the taxpayers are also the primary beneficiary when insurance costs are kept lower.

    On the other point about teacher being taxpayers as well: that is indeed true, but still it is fundamentally different for a teacher/taxpayer to have their property taxes go up say $500/yr but have their compensation increase $2,000/yr (4.15% step on $50K salary), vs a non-teacher taxpayer who only sees the $500 tax increase side of the equation while perhaps living with a multi-year pay freeze, or even a pay cut.

  93. Paul

    Some food for thought for today:

    1. revise pay scales: step increases are not mandated by law and are just a way to keep employees so that you do not have to retrain new ones every year. Hilliard has a generous step increase. this should be changed in line with today. Most government bodies are going to performance based pay. Feds included ( though they cant get it right). Step increases should be visited and changed. the new contract is the perfect vehicle for this as then ( if the board can negotiate with the union) you have 3 years for the union and the management to come up with a viable plan for pay fro performance.

    2. Insurance and other assundry items. sorry the feds pay approx 30 percent of their healthcare cost and dont have the most generous of plans.. select 2 or 3 carriers for insurance needs and say here are the ones you get to choose from and you get to pay 25 percent of the cost..This puts it inline with todays enviroment.
    For all the ones that will say they need more money..(to offset the cost) sorry i dont buy it... look at your neighbors, your church member etc...they are the ones suffering.. you are very well paid dont place the burden back on the people and say you arent.. work scheduled only 184 days a year geez and yes i do know retired teachers and they laugh about working only 7 months.

    3. Pay Freeze/Reduction. Not saying forever just to weather this current enviorment.. your neighbors have their pay frozen/reduced. Union president/board members must be made aware that in todays economic climate they must be the champions of the taxpayers dollars. If they are not using them wisely then they have to go.

    4. School board and Administration must show LONG term cuts not ones to scare the parents with children still in school... No little suzi cant play band cause we are cutting it... These are short term and do not provide for the sustainability of the district. If the Administration is unwilling or unable to do this they must go..contracts be damned.

    5. For the Administration, you the school board must revisit the administration contracts also. Sorry I do realize that they have a job to do but it seems they are paid quite handsomely and do very little in this district except spend spend spend. Yes they say see we arent buying new course books we saved money.. this is pittance.. show leadership work with the teachers union to come up with a viable plan not say i agree with you lets go to the school board and like a certain super said "The community has spoken and it's important for us to understand what that means."--Dale McVey .. It is quite clear what the voters mean... we can not sustain a school district, pay and compenstation, perks, until you can show LONG term viability. If you cant understand what it means please by all means leave.

    6. Do not come back to the public with a levy request at least one year..until you can show LONG term cuts, no scare tactics.. like little bobby wont get to play sports or no bussing for everyone... make viable cuts, educate the public on the LONG term solutions then ask for more money to sustain LONG term goals.. If we give you money now we will again be in this situation again year after year...because you will reinstate all your short term cuts with no visible means for the future.

  94. Paul before you go to the meeting here is a blurb from the SNP online.
    "American Legion members had agreed to sell the building for $585,000 as its size, operating costs and property tax bill had grown too great for the organization to sustain."

    As you can see property tax is one of the reasons.. how many other businesses and organizations are looking to leave because of the property tax bill???

  95. "What *you* are missing is that when you have a set-up like that, there's no incentive for anyone to go the extra mile other than personal satisfaction.

    I'm not saying some/many/all teachers don't go that extra mile; I'm saying they have no incentive to do so (financial or otherwise) and we (the parents and taxpayers) have no know real way of knowing if they are or are not. "

    First of all, teachers did not go into education for the money. You can look at current salaries right now and say this and that. But if you look at starting salaries out of college compared to most other professions, starting salaries for teachers is still below the norm. I think people need to look at the lifetime earnings moreso than what someone currently makes. That is more telling IMO, than looking at the here and now. Many teachers who started teaching 20+years ago were making less than 20K a year. That was a reason many HAD to work during the summers. People assume teachers have a cushy retirement. Well, I know MANY a retired teacher who have to supplement their retirement by working elsewhere to help offset the expenses of medical in retirement. Its not all its made out to be by many.
    As for the incentives, there certainly is incentives to do well. I am not sure some of you realize the pressures on teachers to perform each and every day. With all the current testing that goes on with the state, teachers are in fact expected to do their job, and do it well. If there class doesn't perform, or their building isn't up to par for one reason or another, they are certainly singled out, watched more closely, put on an improvement plan, etc, etc. Parents/tax payers don't know? Well, thats on YOU for not knowing. An FYI, Hilliard schools were given Excellence with Distinction by the state. That alone tells you what you need to know about Hilliard schools and teachers IMO. Of the 610 districts in Ohio, Hilliard was only 1 of 29 to get this rating. Some of you really need educate yourself on what really goes on within schools. Do you really think a teacher in a high school setting, dealing with students 14-18 yrs old, can just walk in and screw off? Those student would in fact, eat them up, call them out. Maybe some of you need to go into Hilliard schools to see what goes on. Go up to the schools on the weekends to see the number of teachers who are in the buildings working and preparing. Sorry, but the 180 days, 9 months working 8am to 3pm is so far fetched, its comical to read it. Teachers are required to do professional development on a regular basis to update their license, something many are doing in the summer while not on the job. Paying much of that out of thier own pockets btw. Oh, and guess what..MANY teachers are self motivated to do their own professional development, to better themselves because they do in fact love teaching and want their students to do well!
    My point, so many make all these predeterminations on a profession that they have never worked in, let alone taken the time to get involved in. Most don't know the state qualifications required, the training, updating licensure, the state standards, code of conducts, etc, etc. Teachers over the last 10 yrs, have been asked to do more and more each and every year. It is not what many think it is where they walk into a classroom, teach, and leave and go home. Its so much more than that.
    I am sorry this had turned into defending teachers. But the current attacks on teachers is out of hand. For so so many years teachers were very well respected and didn't make good money at all. Now that they do make a FAIR living, they are being attacked. And I don't believe its fair.

  96. "As you can see property tax is one of the reasons.. how many other businesses and organizations are looking to leave because of the property tax bill???"

    And where exactly are they going to move? Do you think Hilliard is the only suburb that has a high tax rate? All of the nice suburbs have fairly high tax rates. It is what it is. Until the state figures out a way to help fund schools, either the schools are going to head downhill, or tax payers are going to have to help foot the bill.
    And now with the major cuts by our "wonderful" governor, it could get much worse.

  97. I don't think it fair to "attack" teachers either, but attack is a pretty strong word, especially since there has historically been little of that on this blog anyway - this isn't Topix. At the same time salaries are 88% of the budget, and the 5 Year Forecast, which shows us going deeper into the hole every year, has factored 4.15% steps into the equation. So it certainly needs to be addressed. And in my opinion, it should have been addressed THIS year, before the levy vote. The trust that Paul speaks of is certainly not there for me given what occurred in 2008.

  98. I took a look at the tax history for the American Legion building. In 2000, the school portion of their property tax was $10,878/yr. By 2010, that had grown to $15,806/yr - an increase of nearly $5,000 (45%). When they built the building in 1992, the school portion of their property tax was $9,446/yr.

    It may be true that the American Legion has more building that they need, but these tax increases are forcing their hand in a real estate climate that is likely going to force them to take a capital loss. They've already had one deal fall through at $200,000 under its appraised value.

    How many other small businesses are feeling the same pinch?

  99. Until the state figures out a way to help fund schools, either the schools are going to head downhill, or tax payers are going to have to help foot the bill.

    I really don't understand the logic of this point of view. ALL school funding comes from the taxes. One portion is local property taxes (on both homeowners and businesses), and the rest is money from the State of Ohio, that the State gets by assessing income taxes on a individuals and businesses.

    100% of the money we pay in property taxes stays here in Hilliard Schools.

    40% of the money we pay in state income taxes comes back to Hilliard as school funding. As the State struggles to balance its budget, even less is going to come our as way, as we're perceived as an affluent district that can absorb the cut.

    Truthfully, we'd be better off if we funded 100% of our school cost with local money, as long as we didn't have to pay any state income tax.

    But the system is set up so that we not only pay 100% of the cost of running our schools, we pay what is probably 100% of the cost of running a couple of little school districts as well.

    As I've been saying for years, this is a local issue. The rate in which we allow spending to rise, predominately for comp & benefits, is what determines how often levies are needed, and how large they need to be.

    We need to quit blaming others, and invoking divine rights, and instead sit down and have an adult conversation with each other.

  100. your excused paul :)

  101. Unless teachers are getting a stipend from the district to go to school?

    The HEA Agreement (Article 25) requires the district to make $75,000 available each year for reimbursement of tuition, with certain restrictions and rules of eligibility. The last I asked, the full amount was used every year.

  102. Note that some private sector employers subsidize the education of the employees as well. Mine did (CompuServe) and I finished my undergraduate degree with this much appreciated subsidy.

  103. Here's an adult converstaion....Thank you and thank you, too.

    The Hilliard community has an exemplary record of supporting our schools over an entire generation. We have shown the appreciation for the excellent dedication our school system teachers provide, by rewarding their efforts with a wonderful compensation package.

    And now it's our turn. The community has hit a wall in the last few years. The financial pain many of us feel now is real. Can the union show us some appreciation for the years of support by having an beginning contract bargaining base of REASONABLE salaries going forward? Can they show good faith with the taxpayers and start with a total pay freeze, of both base and step raises, to allow the district to get on a stable footing? And then, in one or two years have this same contract include a slow continued increase of salaries.

    Is the ball now in the court of the union? With the levy having failed, and I assume negotiations for the next contract will begin before another levy can be on the ballot. Can they show trust in the people who have supported them for so long, and give us a breather, until we can afford to go back to regular increases?

    This is not assigning blame, or name calling or criticizing. It's an adult conversation about limits and trust, and a history of support and appreciation. We taxpayers are simply asking for some of the same, in return.

    Teachers, do you hear us? What do you say??

  104. Old Hilliard: Beautifully put. Thanks

  105. "I am sorry this had turned into defending teachers. But the current attacks on teachers is out of hand. For so so many years teachers were very well respected and didn't make good money at all. Now that they do make a FAIR living, they are being attacked. And I don't believe its fair"

    I think I can now pinpoint the difference between you and I.

    I'm not attacking teachers. I am attacking the SYSTEM that they are made to work under, that gives us no way to identify the super star teachers, and those that do the minimum. (And there ARE those that do the minimum, don't kid yourself.)

    Does that make sense?

    I am all for rewarding great teachers; I just want to know who they are, and things like 'Excellent with Distinction' don't mean a thing when some buildings are on academic probation / in failing state. Note, that doesn't mean the teachers in those buildings suck either; they may be the best ones we have but they've got issues far beyond their control to deal with.

    Until we can accurately measure the performance (and therefore worth) of a teacher (and any other employee for that matter), the taxpayers aren't about to foot the bill for future increases based on the kind of vagaries presented to the board by the Superintendent.

  106. I think this speaks volumes. From the dispatch:

    "The Ohio Education Association will assess active members $54 apiece and support-staff members $25 to generate $5 million as fuel for a referendum to repeal the state's new collective-bargaining law.

    The decision was made yesterday by about 1,000 delegates attending the teachers union's Spring Representative Assembly at Veterans Memorial."

    Does this sound like the kinds of leadership (note: NOT the average teacher) that's about to give anything in this discussion?

  107. I attended the board meeting today and I did not say much. I was there mainly to listen and try to get an understanding as to why our costs are out of control. The main thing that I took away from the meeting is that roughly 80 to 85% of the annual budget is protected by the union cntract and state/federal mandates. That leaves about 15-20% of the budget left over to modify. (Forgive me if my percentages are off a little bit but I am going to make my point soon.)
    What I heard in the meeting were tax payers/concerned parents talking about the 15-20%, when the real issue the other 80 to 85% of the budget. I concede that teaching and being an adminstrator is hard work. Everyone holds a degree and should be compensated fairly for their efforts. However, I think that the best way to rein in future costs is to negotiate a better contract with the union. This is the section of the total pie that we should focus on. A gentleman stated in the meeting that the board's 5 year projection states that there will be a $38 million deficit in the 5th year. My understanding is this is based on current contract language of 4.25% annual step raises and other long term (pension) benefits. I realize their are some other factors in there but wages and benefits take up the majority of spending.

    The reality is that we as a community have to deal with it. This includes all players - i.e.: teachers, administrators, board members, and tax payers. I believe the teachers are realistic and understand what we are facing as state funding is cut and the economy is in the tank. So I propose the best way to control future costs is to slow down the step raises, slow down the vesting in the pension and as them to start paying a greater portion of their healtcare. We all want the same thing and we as tax-payers should provide the people educating our children a good middle class living. My belief is the Hilliard school employees know that some (not all) of their benefits are overly generous and they need to support adjusting their new contract in a manner that helps us out. Then I think the majority of the people will look at future levy's in a different light.

  108. The 88% of our budget that is consumed by compensation and benefits is not cast in stone. It's a number that's negotiated with the unions, and those negotiations will take place sometime this year.

    We can negotiate the structure of the step raises, as well as the parameters of sharing the cost of health coverage. However the structure of the pension system is completely controlled by the Governor and the General Assembly.

    I too believe the teachers and support staff members will participate in the process of figuring out how to make our economics affordable and sustainable. I'm looking forward the discussions with them.

  109. Paul, I am hopeful you are correct and that the HEA and OAPSE agree to participate in the process.

    I do not see anyway to fix our financial issues any other way.

    It is difficult to deal with the fact that we have to be worried about the HEA leadership or union members filing grievances if we are discussing the future of our district that deals with finances. The community is the one footing the bill.

    I dont think another levy request should go on the ballot until the next contract is signed, compensation is adjusted and we put ourselves on solid financial footing. With the contract ending in December, then it should be later.

    My fear in passing a new levy before hand is that the negotiations will file out the door, the HEA will wait, bring in the Federal Mediator and that person chooses. If we hold the fort, dont pass any new money, we will then not have the funds to appropriate.

    I still think the board can eliminate some other positions and hold on to gifted instruction and some middle school sports.
    Lets eliminate some of the vice principals, lets cut down on supplemental contracts, reduce the number of coaches, eliminate some curriculum that is not needed, ie sports admin, delay the alegbra 2 iniative, plus reopen the piece of paper dealing with compensation. Cant use the word because someone might file a grievance. And by the way, how is THAT about the kids. ?

  110. This morning I attend my first board meeting. I want to participate and make informed decisions. This blog has started me on that path.

    Someone made a comment today about eNews not sending out a note about this mornings meeting. I only knew because of this blog. Which I stumbled upon on my own.

    I have a vested interest as we all do: I have two small children not even in school yet. I made the decision to move into this area based on the school system as most have done. My heart told me to vote yes for the levy as another $400 a year wasn't going to break my budget. My head and the numbers told me to vote no.

    I think the cuts being made are a result of the larger compensation and benefits issue. I hope the push will come from the teachers and administrators to change the conversation. Thanks for this blog Paul! I have learned a lot but still have much to learn. Do you have a best reference for understanding school funding? Sorry if I missed it.

  111. Rick:

    We still have to see what the numbers look like after the Governor and General Assy finish their work with the budget. As I said when I cast my dissenting vote on the cut list, we didn't know at the time whether the cuts were going to be too deep, or not deep enough.

    It's looking like the later unfortunately. By my estimates, we may be able to barely squeak by in FY12 (the fiscal year we'll start on July 1), because we'll end FY11 with $12.8m in the bank to absorb the $11.2m excess of spending over revenue forecasted for FY12). But those cash reserves will be gone by the end of FY12, and the FY13 deficit is budgeted to be on the order of $21m, taking into account the cuts to Personal Property Tax Reimbursement cuts as well as the $3.9m in spending cuts starting FY11.

    In other words, there's still a lot of work to be done.

  112. For the commenter asking for a reference about school funding, there was a very good book written by Robert Stabile that described how Ohio's school funding worked until the advent of Gov. Strickland's "Evidence Based Model." If you can find this book, it has great info.

    Meanwhile, I recommend that you check out the EducateHilliard website. is an organization put together by several of us who want the dialog about school economics to be about facts, not emotion or the urban legends that seem to permeate these discussions. If you have more questions, please ask and I'll answer the best I can.

    Or if you want to grab a soda sometime...

  113. Paul, after all the grievance stuff, the many facets of school funding, bare bones education, I want Crowne Royale and not soda to sit down and talk about school funding ! I am sure a number of people would like to sit down with you as I have to get some real perspective and understanding.

    Again thanks for all of your hard work. Cant do The CR straight anymore but I will take it
    with some 7 up

  114. @Anon - Just an fyi that the Coffee with the Board on Saturday was not a normal board meeting. The one on Saturday had so much more dialog and interaction than most and was informative at so many levels. A normal meeting like the one scheduled for Monday allows the public to make comments before the main portion of the meeting. It is not a Q&A but more small presentations by constituents and it appears that some of the board members spend their time shuffling papers instead of listening. Then the meeting continues forward with the agenda items. I enjoyed the coffee because it is the first time that I have heard answers from board members other than Paul beyond an email reply that said, 'Thank you for your message. Vote for the levy.'

  115. I agree with Paul and paraphrase here, "Are we going to do public education or not?"

    If yes, we have many, many miles to travel if we expect to compete in a global economy. We have lots of data that tell us we are already losing.

    On the issue of teacher salary... Will the next generation's best and brightest minds be willing to enter the field of education to compete for a $58K job? If the goal is to increase competition to improve outcomes, lowering salaries is a strategy that will backfire because it decreases competition.

    Regarding real solutions... I hate to use an overused expression (or two), but it's time to think outside the box. Instead of talking about doing the SAME OR LESS, let's talk about doing MORE WITH LESS.

    I would do something like this:
    1. Get rid of the state mandated curriculum, except for some MINIMUM standards around reading, math and civics. (Basically, at a minimum, you should learn how to survive as an adult citizen of this country.)

    2. Get rid of proficiency testing. It measures nothing. Some people (kids included) are excellent test takers. That doesn't mean they add any value to society. Although that sounds harsh, my point is that value is perceived, thus relative. Is there any research that links proficiency testing to global innovation? Has anyone monetized the value of proficiency testing in terms of what it contributes to society? What are we really measuring?

    3. Focus on 21st century skills: multi-language, cultural awareness, critical thinking (knowledge is ubiquitous, memorization is nearly pointless), innovation and invention, arts, lifelong learning, health and fitness, consumerism and conservation.

    4. Pay teachers MORE. If up to me I'd pay my kids' teachers more than their doctors IF they were providing impact and value. Education is THAT important. My expectations would be VERY high.

    5. Sunset the union. Most teachers I know consider themselves professionals. If you read my #4, you see I support that view. The union is holding teachers back from their full potential. (State standards and proficiency testing also do this.)

    6. Create a performance culture in schools. Yes, this requires measurement, but not the current system of proficiency testing. Every situation is different and requires a different measuring stick. If every child had a learning and development plan that was agreed to by the school and the parent, success could be measured much more effectively and realistically. (And, I would call upon the State to not make it a convoluted, bureaucratic nightmare of a process that bogs everyone down for the first two months of the school year. Keep it simple!)

    The bottom line is that I, as the parent, am responsible for the education of my children, and I need the school's help because I am not an expert on education. (Actually I am, but for adults.) And yet, I have very little input, if any, as to what learning objectives are important or what constitutes value for my children's education.

    If the counter argument is made that our society can't bear this approach because of dysfunction, ignorance, or lack of interest, what does that say about our country's future? In that case, you'd better brush up on your Mandarin!

  116. With respect to Shad B, if all we concentrate on is #3, then we need to all start learning Mandarin.

    Our kids need a solid dose of history, the Constitution and the founding of this great country to have an inkling of what it's all about.

    And sadly, what I suspect Shad (and I) would interpret as "critical thinking" is not the same as what those directing education believe. Today's "critical thinking" is what leads to students chaining themselves to the desks at school board meetings...

  117. Something to chew on for those who "think" teachers are overpaid....very good article.

  118. We need more posts from Shad B....(more future thinking) Anonymous @ 3:15 ideas are out of date, and will not allow our children to compete in the current or future world markets.

  119. With respect to Anonymous@11:19pm, those who fail to learn history are destined to repeat it...

    And I hope you realize that "multiculturalism" is simply a codeword for "special treatment for minorities".

    And no, that doesn't make me a racist, far from it; it makes me a realist.

    And it's funny, but Americans have successfully competed in global markets since the country was founded. It seems we only started to struggle when we took our collective eyes off the ball...

  120. 1. What about partnering up with another institution like Columbus State - wouldn't it be cheaper for the district to simply pay tuition for students to attend some courses there, particularly those with low enrollment? The student would leave HCSD having earned both high school and college credit - certainly a value add proposition for parents. As staff costs are the brunt of the expense, the district would save money even if it paid the tuition and offered busing. This would open up an extensive course catalog to the students where HCSD would not be responsible for the staff and infrastructure costs. HCSD offers the core program and pays for students to take deeper offerings at a place like Columbus State - I suspect the district could save significant money and a wise high school student could essentially get a two year scholarship out of it.

    2. What about reconfiguring the high schools so that each has a particular emphasis, i.e., one could be math/science focused, another could focus on arts and sports, etc.? This could eliminate some of the (expensive) duplication.

    Why offer the same arcane class to 12 students at three different high schools when it could be offered once at a single location and have 30 students in it? Perhaps there is something less than a full reconfiguration that would allow courses deeper in the schedule to be offered at a single location. Or perhaps the reconfiguration relates to the staff, where an individual who teaches a particular subject does so in the morning at one location and at another location in the afternoon. We are not geographically landlocked - there is no need to offer the same expensive program three different times, at three different locations, by three different staffs each day - the high schools in particular could be working together. I would suggest this could allow for a deeper, yet less expensive, program to be offered.

  121. I'm not conversant on the mechanics, but there is a relationship between our school district and one or more colleges that allows students to earn high school and/or college credit for some courses. There are some interesting nuances to this, as the policy is that if a student signs up for dual credit, the district will fund some of the cost, but the grade is included in both the high school and college transcript. So some kids apparently take college classes without the dual enrollment, and pay the college tuition themselves so as not to jeopardize their high school GPA.

    I too have thought about reorganizing our buildings as you describe, and it was considered by the Student Housing Committee which completed it work a few months ago.

    There is a little of this going on now. For example, I believe German 5 is offered in only one high school, but students in the other two can participate via inhouse teleconferencing facilities. I suspect this approach could be used for other classes as well.

    I think that in any organization, especially large ones, that when funding is comfortable, convenience starts to take priority over efficiency. But when belt-tightening is in order - like now - we have to be willing to trade a little convenience in order to balance the budget.

    That conversation is always hard, because people have varying opinions as to what is convenient vs necessary, and even how serious the economic situation really is.

    In my opinion, it's plenty serious, and we have some very tough decisions to make as a community. I've proposed an approach like this to the Board, which has been used successfully for some pretty complex decisions, including the redrawing of high school attendance boundaries when Bradley was brought online.

    What do you think?