Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Pay to Play

I've corrected the calculations in the illustration below. My apologies for the bad assumption on the number of middle school basketball teams. Thanks for pointing out my error.

As was stated would be the case when the Board passed, by a 4-1 margin, a resolution stating what would happen if the levy didn't pass, the administrative team is now in the process of implementing a set of cuts designed to allow the District to operate one more year. Here is a chart which depicts what I believe our current financial situation looks like (ie- these are not official numbers from the Treasurer), with the revenue estimated as what it will be after applying the state funding cuts as I understand them, as well as the impact of the spending reductions implemented as a result of the levy failure cut list:

Click to enlarge
As on prior charts I've presented, the yellow region depicts the difference between revenue and spending, and it remains pretty substantial. It means that the things that were on this cut list are just a tiny start unless we figure out another way to align spending with revenue. And we don't have a lot of time: the green line depicts the projected cash balance, and you'll note that it goes negative in FY13. That can't be allowed to happen.

But even this tiny start creates pain. In my short time on the Board, no issue has drawn more public input than these cuts to Gifted Programming and Middle School extracurriculars. While it's disappointing that there is little engagement in the community until a decision is made that someone doesn't like, I nonetheless appreciate that many people have come forward on this issue. It's also helpful that many of the complaints have been accompanied by alternative solutions.

In particular, of the many emails sent to the School Board about middle school athletics, a number have included the suggestion that sports - and I suppose other middle school extracurriculars - be funded with a Pay-to-Play approach. I have concerns about Pay-to-Play, and I thought it would be appropriate to explain them to you.

It's not that I don't value extracurricular activities. My wife and I both participated in extracurricular activities in high school, and in fact we met in one (marching band). Our children took advantage of our school district's fantastic programs as well, and we were proud to watch them perform in exemplary organizations.

My concern is that a Pay-to-Play approach could exclude some kids from participating in these activities because their families cannot afford the fees.

We're running a PUBLIC school district here. America didn't always have public schools. Our Founders came from affluent families who could afford to send their male children to private schools and private tutors. But along the way, we as a society decided that we should have public schools available to all children regardless of gender, ethnicity, religious beliefs, and financial wherewithal, to be funded by taxes levied on all members of a community according to one's wealth. I think most of us would argue that this has been a good thing for our country.

Pay-to-Play in a public school seems to be a step backwards. It's as though we construct two story school buildings, and house all the required programs and services on the first floor, available to all kids. The second floor has all the special and fun stuff, but is only available to those kids who come from families with the financial resources to be able to afford an expensive 'second floor pass.'

Those offerings on the second floor are held up by the resources spent on the foundation of the building, and the structure of the first floor. Without this supporting structure, the offerings on the second floor would be much more expensive. In fact, they would have to stand alone.

That's what a club sport is to me. It's fully supported by its members and sponsors, without the benefit of taxpayer money. The club can pick and choose who are its members, what they spend to run the program, and what kinds of facilities they will use. 

But it's not appropriate, I feel, to operate what amounts to a private club within a public school, taking advantage of some taxpayer-funded resources, but causing some kids to be excluded because they lack the ability to pay the fees.

That doesn't mean there is no solution acceptable to me. Some have said that they would be willing to pay extra to create a financial assistance program for kids who want to participate in an activity, but can't afford it. I'm not sure how you would go about determining if a kid qualifies for such assistance. But this seems like a reasonable idea, meriting some consideration.

We could say that a kid qualifies for Pay-to-Play assistance if he/she has been placed in the category of "Economically Disadvantaged" as is used by the state and federal government. Using data from the last State Report Cards, we had 2,375 kids enrolled in our three middle schools, and 22% - not an insignificant number - of them were designated as Economically Disadvantaged. Let's go on to presume that the number of kids interested in participating in middle school extracurricular activities are in the same proportion. 

Pick a sport - say middle school boys and girls basketball. According to numbers I have from last year regarding supplemental salaries, we have a total of 12 coaches assigned to 6 12 teams being paid in total $32,000 in supplemental salaries (in addition to their compensation as teachers). I know there are other costs associated with running the middle school basketball program, but for this thought exercise, let's consider only the supplemental salaries for the coaches.

Assuming that ten 13 players make each team, that's a total of 60  156 players. So if you divide $32,000 by 60 156, you get $535 $205 per player. But if you assume that 22% of those players, about 13 34, are also economically disadvantaged and should be allowed to play for free, with the cost distributed over the other 78% of the players, then the cost per player jumps to $686 $263.

That's not the only possible solution of course. Some have mentioned seeking outside sponsorship. So the per-player fee could be kept at $535 $205 if about $7,000 in sponsorship money could be raised - enough to fund the 13 kids who are economically disadvantaged. That seems plausible to me.

The cost of a sport is also offset by the revenue generated by ticket sales. This can be a big number for some sports (football, basketball, gymnastics), and not so much for others (golf, cross country). So there might have to be some discussion about revenue sharing amongst sports.

Again, I stand by my conviction that a public school system is obligated to offer programming to all regardless of the ability to pay. I have spoken out against the extra academic fees charged, as well as the fact that we exclude kids from things like the annual 8th grade trip to Washington DC.

But I'm open to solutions that achieve the same result - opportunity according to ability and passion, not economic status.


  1. I'll bite :)

    1. If we scrap the activities in the school system, the same kids "disadvantaged" by Pay-to-Play are still disadvantaged.

    2. We have a serious structural deficit to our finances; it's time to think out of the box, and if that means Pay-to-Play for activities that are not core curriculum, then so be it. The out of the box part comes with driving local contributions to help finance those activities.

    3. When I went to school, no coach was ever given a stipend to coach sports, or run any other kinds of after school activity. They did it for the love of the game. They did it to instill pride in the kids. They weren't in it for the money. Maybe as part of our out of the box thinking we need to rethink stipends entirely.

    4. I think we need to look at significant "pay to learn" fees for some of these high school courses which are, frankly, filler for kids that haven't been educated well enough from K-8 in order for them to be able to take real classes. I mean, come on, what the heck is "Global Gourmet" anyway?

  2. Thanks for taking the bait! Good points all.

    In regard to your first point, I'm reminded of the saying that you can't make the weak stronger by making the strong weaker. I believe that, but don't think it's quite on point here.

    It also makes me think about discussions I've had with a far-left friend who supports the estate tax because he doesn't think the offspring of financially successful parents are necessarily deserving of all their parents' money. I disagree.

    Parents should indeed be able to use all their resources for the benefit of their kids.

    But I come back to the point that these are PUBLIC schools supported with taxpayer dollars. We throw all of our money into a pot according to our wealth (or at least the value of our real estate), and divvy it out according to the need, ability and passion of the kids, without regard as to whether a kid's family paid as much tax as the kid sitting next to him/her.

    If that's not an acceptable system to parents, then there are great private schools in our region where parents can pick and choose what programs and services they want their kids to have access to.

    I also understand that this stuff can be talked about in generalities by me, but the situation is very personal when it's your kid who's on a once per lifetime trip through our school system. There's no 'fix it tomorrow' in that situation. We have to deal with it now.

    Let's see if we can work something out.

  3. I'll take the bait too, Paul. I agree with Pay to Play given the current financial situation, and because I heard a few parents of affected students at the Coffee say they were for it too. Also, as Libertarian minded person, I am a firm believer in "usage" taxes where you pay for what you get, at least in more general terms.
    I am reminded of the annual trip to D.C. that the Davidson HS students took (maybe still do?) that cost us parents a pretty good chunk of money, and I know that several of each of my kids friends could not go, as it simply wasn't in the parents budget. I believe that mention was made that if you could not afford it, to contact the school and they would see if they could offer any help - don't have any idea whether any took advantage of that, or how it worked for them but the point remains that it was an extra-curricular that not all could afford, and therefore some were left behind.
    Another thought - "outside of the box" - perhaps the sports (as one example) could require parental participation. Either hands on in the coaching, transportation, etc or in fundraising. The funds could be go into a general fund for all, and/or into a "scholarship" fund for those who need it. We don't need to set a "quota" that an individual must raise, but rather make it a team effort. If parents want to truly opt out of any participation, then they pay some set amount. This might not fully fund the activity but it sure could make a dent in the districts expenses. The gentleman who mentioned Saturday that he sees the 8th grade kids wearing $150 sneakers made me really stop and think about the costs involved in kids sports - as well he mentioned the summer and travel leagues many of these kids are in and that costs parents a ton of money. Another idea - do the football boosters get to keep all of their money in the football program, or is it spread around? We all know that OSU football and basketball support the other 30 sports offered - can that happen in the HCSD as well?
    Again, just some random thoughts....
    I truly believe that most, if not all, Hilliard parents can come up with the money for their kids extra-curriculars, and if the alternative is that we ALL have to come up with the money, or do without them entirely, well, I am not sure quite what to say. I've said it before - a continuing enterprise must constantly adapt to current situations and this seems to be one area that needs some adaptation. And again, these are just some thoughts to run up the flagpole and see who salutes.

  4. "When I went to school, no coach was ever given a stipend to coach sports, or run any other kinds of after school activity. They did it for the love of the game. They did it to instill pride in the kids. They weren't in it for the money. Maybe as part of our out of the box thinking we need to rethink stipends entirely"

    When did you go to school, in the 40's? No offense, but most any coach, who coaches a sport, does in fact do it for the love of the sport and working with those student athletes. When you figure out the amount of time they put in, and what they make, it usually comes out to a VERY low number per hour they end up making. I am not sure many realize the committment that coaches or leaders of extra curriculars put in time wise. Some of them litterally live at the school. AND, NOT all coaches are teachers within the system either. Its not as easy to find people to coach or run these extra curriculars as some may think.

  5. The guy who was my high school band director back in the late 1960s got a stipend, so I believe this has been the normal practice for a long time. And I have a friend who is one of our coaches whose full time job is with a large corporation.

  6. Hillirdite:

    Thanks for weighing in.

    So where does pay to play stop? Why isn't it in the best interest of the School Board, representing the greater community of taxpayers, and especially the taxpayers without kids, to keep cancelling activities as long as parents are willing to turn around and fund those activities via pay-to-play?

    Why not extend that thinking to elective courses which are taken by low numbers of students? Sorry kids, we aren't going to offer German 5 unless your parent fork over $500 each...

    If this is the way we're going to start funding our public schools, then maybe we can get out of the levy business.

  7. "If this is the way we're going to start funding our public schools, then maybe we can get out of the levy business."
    I think I might detect a note of, for lack of a better word, sarcasm, lol.I don't think we can ever get totally out of the levy business but we have to take a look at every expense and do some prioritizing regarding what options some might have to pay extra for vs. what should come as standard equipment.
    And lets not forget, we all know what is driving the levy business to begin with, and it isn't extra-curriculars, at least not to any great degree. Extras are simply the easiest, and/or most used weapon to use to get levies passed, for some odd reason. They are part of the equation though and deserve our attention, as do all expenses. I would even be discussing German 5, to use your example - not sure it is even offered but I hear from my daughter that French 4 was offered a year ago and there were 10 kids in the class at HD.
    So my thanks for this thread. Even though I think we are going to agree to disagree on the subject.

  8. How about if it is pay to play...then make it just that. If you play, PAY! If you don't have the money, or you don't want to PAY....then decide not to play. If a child really wants to play a sport, and their parents do not have the money or willing to pay it, then get a summer job, work on the weekends but do not ask other people to pay for your child's way. Responsibility. Based on the Levy results, people do not want to pay for these activity for "everyone". So do not make it the responsibility of parents willing to pay for their child to also pay for others. If you decide to have children, then decide to be responsible for them.

  9. A little tongue in cheek, perhaps, but only a little.

    But I'm serious with my question: How do we decide which offerings should be funded with tax dollars versus with pay-to-play dollars?

    Maybe on scheduling day, we should give each kid $11,000 worth of monopoly money, and tell them they can sign up for $11,000 worth of whatever offerings they want, as long as they complete their requirements for their grade level. Some classes will cost $1,000/yr and some $5,000. Some extracurricular activities will be $2500/yr and other $25/yr. Any combination that adds up to $11,000 is hunky-dory.

    And let's make it so that the parents get to buy $8,000 worth of monopoly money with nothing more than a cancelled property tax receipt (or a certified copy of the landlord's property tax receipt if a renter). The rest has to be in cash, and the parents are free to spend all they want. If the kid wants $12,000 worth of services, the parents pay $4,000 in cash.

    Kids who are classified as Economically Disadvantaged get up to $3,000 worth of additional monopoly money for free (to a total of $11,000), depending on their financial situation.

    We'd set a minimum 'revenue' to continue offering a course. Maybe something like $150,000/yr to cover the cost of the teacher and overhead. Should be easy to cover with a low course fee if the course is popular, or required. But for elective course with few students, the course fee would have to be pretty high, or the course would be cancelled and the teacher laid off.

    If a teacher desires more compensation, then the course fee could be raised. If that teacher's course is in demand, students/parents will be willing to allocate more of their money to pay the course fee, and funding will be generated to pay the teacher more. Without a levy.

    Just another idea to kick around.

  10. Paul

    I'll post my thoughts on Pay to Play in a subsequent post, but first I wanted to address two side points you raise with your introductory comments:

    First, you say "there is little engagement in the community until a decision is made that someone doesn't like ... "

    I think my wife and I are typical of those now getting involved. We have been engaged in the school district helping out with the wrestling program from grades K through 12, Market Day at SDE, plus countless classroom parties, field days, field trips and other special events.

    We were needed in the schools and trusted the governance issue was being addressed. We are now choosing to get engaged in the governance of the district rather than just service delivery to the kids because frankly while we have been doing our part in the schools the governance hasn't been delivered to expectation. We are now focusing our energies where we feel it is most needed.

    You say "of the many emails sent to the School Board about middle school athletics .." I sent an email to 5 Board Members and received 1 reply.

    The Administration and the Board announce and vote on the "cut list" with little public notice or discussion. There's an inertia to overcome to get engaged and be productive.

    The pain of poor decisions creates a willingness to invest effort to overcome that inertia and engage in a productive way. Frankly, for that to change more of us are going to have to make that calculation, get engaged and motivate change.

    Douglas Davidson

  11. Paul, the administration and board are already making the decision of what activities to fund with tax dollars and which to not fund. They simply decided to CUT instead of offer different options so all those students lose their opportunities. Why Gifted Services? "It is not mandated." Why only Middle School Athletics? "It doesn't lead to possible scholarships." So tough decisions are already being made and desired but NOT mandated programs are being cut. Obviously, mandated state and federal requirements need to be met. THAT is the 'bare bones' which is nowhere close to where we are now. But there is obviously some criteria being used to determine what to cut and maybe when something meets that criteria the question should be asked if it could be saved by a fee instead of fully cutting it.

    Voters showed that they were unable or not willing to pay the cost of the recent levy every year forever. Some of those voters do not have students in the system. Some do and would possibly pay it if they felt it really was FOR THE KIDS such as for sports or gifted or extracurricular programs but not when it seems it is really going for that magical 88% of the budget. For those parents/students, an increased pay-to-participate fee fits the bill.

    I personally think those that cannot afford it still have a better chance of participating through school than at outside clubs. People like you and me and others in the community will try and help create and fund scholarships.

  12. Doug: I appreciate the interest you and others are showing toward engaging in the governance of our school district. Democracy isn't a spectator sport - it requires the involvement of the people in the process, else our government ends up being controlled by special interests whose primary special interest is economic in nature.

    The greatest threat to democracy is ignorance and apathy, and that true whether we're talking about national politics, or the governance of our school district.

    Welcome aboard.

  13. Heather: Thanks for commenting. You're exactly right that the School Board makes decisions, based on recommendations of the Superintendent and input from the community, about what should be offered in our schools. I for one am very glad to hear more from the community.

    I'm not opposed to pay-to-play, but can support in a public school setting only if it is structured so that no kid is denied service based on their family's ability to pay.

    As I mentioned before, more than 1 in 5 kids in our school district are already identified as Economically Disadvantaged. And while the average income in our community is $66,000, the median is $48,000 - meaning the average is skewed by a concentration of economic wealth at the high end.

    I'm not anti-wealth, I think economic wealth is the way a capitalist economy rewards commercial success, and there's nothing wrong with that.

    All I'm saying is that I believe a key premise of public education is that the full gamut of offerings in a public school system have to be made available to all kids regardless of their economic standing.

    So if we can figure out a way to run a pay-to-play program that ensures that no kid is left out solely because of economic status, I'm okay with that.

    But that still leaves unanswered the question - what next? Do we make level 4/5 foreign language classes pay-to-play? Why not transportation? Why not put a card swipe reader on every school bus, and make kids swipe their lunch cards when they get on? Free lunch kids get free bus rides. Everyone else pays only if they get on the bus. Just as is the case in the lunch line, no other kid knows who gets free stuff because it's all handled in the backend of the point-of-sale system.

    Seriously, why shouldn't we do that?

    If it's okay to transfer the funding burden from the whole of the community to just the users of services, why not make that strategy that applies to virtually everything?

    And how would that be different than a private school?

  14. From a big picture standpoint, this debate is irrelevant. The contract needs to come first.

  15. I wouldn't call this debate irrelevant, because it's about our values as a community. But you're exactly right that every conversation that touches economics will be heavily influenced by the next deal that is struck with the unions.

    I hope that negotiation can take place with empathy and respect on the part of all parties.

  16. Pay-to-play would be a good alternative if we had a revenue problem.

    But we dont. We have a monopolized labor problem.

  17. It's certainly not irrelevant. It's a learning curve. We need to solve a huge problem, so let's get some practice in solving a much smaller problem first. If we show we can do that, maybe some of the folks that are ignoring our opinions will stop ignoring them...

  18. Have the coaches (and anyone else who gets paid for their part in extra curriculars) even been asked if they would be willing to do this for free??

  19. Honestly, do private schools really charge for every cost separately like that? I have little experience and exposure to private schools except for the few years my oldest attended pre-K and K at a Montessori school. They did not ask for any more fees or donations than I currently get from HCSD. They didn't get my propety taxes but tuition paid only during the months we were there. This month alone I have received numerous requests for my sons to 'pay to participate' or at least make donations to participate in school-related activities - 7th grade science day at Zoombezi Bay, cost of Focus field trip to Fallingwater, end of year class parties, and others. I'm not complaining as I'm glad to have those opportunities for them. But your debate to me implies that all of this should be eliminated. I don't agree. I would rather have the opportunities exist. Don't the sports teams already have requirements to participate? I know to play on the golf team my son had to own a set of clubs and rent the team polos plus each family was asked to provide dinner for the team and coach once during the season. Volunteers were needed to transport to and from practices and my son could not take the bus home on golf days. He could only do it because my schedule allowed me to pick him up. I have asked but have yet to see the figures for middle school sports beyond the number of coaches and supplemental salaries. How many middle school students are really affected by the cuts? How many of those students could afford a higher fee? How many students already do not participate because they cannot afford the shoes or uniforms or cannot miss the bus and stay late for practice or matches? I bet some students are already not truly available to all students. Individual families need to set their priorities. Many probably live in the district for the Excellence in Education and know many extras will not be available for them. But I bet they want all the opportunities they can for their students too. Some of the families will move to club sports instead but I do not think all. So now even fewer students will have that opportunity.

    I think it is obvious that no one really thinks a cafeteria-style system for everything the district offers is the ideal. Far from it. The administration and board need to set the priorities and I certainly understand that transporting kids to school so they have the opportunity to learn is more important than the middle school golf teams playing for a few months. I know this was addressed at the coffee last weekend and I'm sure before that. The public really is clueless as to how the administration and board is making the choices and we want to be more informed. Some things are obvious such as the basic needs of food and transportation and mandated courses. But others are not. Why is keeping something like French 4 (mentioned above) that serves so few kids really the better option than cutting Gifted Services that are provided to hundreds of students? Our perception may be wrong and maybe that single French 4 class was small but as a whole the course served many more but we do not know. We know the numbers for the gifted children because the district had to report those figures to the ODE.

  20. @Douglas - Thank you for stating so well exactly what my husband and I also feel. Your explanation rings so true to me. I think part of it is that when the students are really young those of us that do volunteer are really needed to be hands-on in the classrooms, on the field trips, and at the schools. For many of us that is our first exposure to the workings of the district since we were students ourselves. But as the students advance through the grades parents are not needed as much at that individual level within the schools and can step back and look at the bigger picture. And many of us are not liking some of what we see.

  21. I truly believe we need to approach every single expense in the sense of an "austerity" budget. We all know what is driving the every two year levy cycle and compensation must be addressed - in my and many other folks opinions, immediately/concurrently with the upcoming contracts. But if every single employee would get on board with the fact that the "company" is running out of money, and is REQUIRED to submit a thought or two on how to mitigate the results, then everyone will know that this is serious business - I don't think the entire staff, by a long shot, is on board with this fact. the contract employees have been "spoiled" for lack of a better word, by past practices.
    Without wanting to be redundant, I have a bit of experience in running a small business through good times and bad; my industry started feeling the effects of the current economy at least four years ago, and two years ago we came as close to closing our doors as we had ever been during our now 28 years. What kept us alive was not carrying much debt at the start, austerity in ALL expenses throughout (including no raises for anyone for 3 straight years other than increased health premiums covered by the company) and a very loyal staff who realized what was going on not just here but at the competition also. We kept them all working though, and they are better for it today. I do not believe that the district has taken enough steps to do any of those things, so we are left with a festering problem.
    The current one-year extension came back to firmly bite the district in the butt if you were to ask me - it left out any type of an answer as to where 88%+ of the money is going to go while asking the voters for more money.
    That used to work - it doesn't work any more. Very foolish, and another classic example of "kicking the can down the road". They need to change their entire mindset - that word "adapt" keeps coming back to me.

  22. " we show we can do that, maybe some of the folks that are ignoring our opinions will stop ignoring them"

    I hope you are being sarcastic.

    You propose we keep coming up with band-aid budget solutions in an effort to build goodwill with the admin?

    Pay to play is a ridiculous concept in public schools.

  23. I strongly support the implementation of Pay to Play for all extras as an alternative to programmatic cuts in the upcoming school year. Athletics gets more people engaged & energized so my post centers on that topic, but I think many of the issues that arise when talking Pay to Play for sports transfer to the other areas with some minor adjustments.

    Pay to Play discussion centers on the consumption of an extra service by students. We also discuss how extras add a number of things to the school community:

    1. Extras build school community & are a part of the learning process. The “extras” label is unfortunate. These programs routinely provide the forums from which our student leaders emerge. Extras provide much of the backdrop for the normal & usual that happens in school. The extras provide the school a rallying point. Extras provide motivation for some students to perform in the classroom & give others a sense of community & purpose.

    a. Extras provide a sense of community & a learning environment outside of the classroom. Eighth grade football is a great example. At Heritage it isn’t just 60 boys playing ball but includes 12 cheerleaders & in at least one home game a visit by the school band. Students are involved as volunteer managers & statisticians. High school b& members come & support the junior high b& members. Every child is afforded a number of lessons from the experience.

    b. Extras motivate some students. Grades & behavioral expectations set standards as to who can participate. I am certain that you will find staff has examples of “lost kids” who were brought into the mainstream because poor choices would result in a lost extra.

    c. I would assert that members of the youth leadership in our schools are by & large consumers of multiple extras. These are kids that are counted on to provide services to the school community. What, if anything, are they owed for that service?

    2. Extras create revenues for the school & income for the community. For instance, we have excellent sports facilities. Our athletic administration & the coaches do an excellent job of hosting post season events at the high school level as well as other sporting events in these facilities. If those revenues are included in the athletic balance sheet how short of self sustaining is the 7th to 12th grade athletic program? & how are local businesses impacted by reduced visitors coming in for extra events (not a part of the school discussion but a community impact that must be considered).

    3. I suggest the extras add a component to the quality of life of the community. What impact will a loss of those extras have on the community-school relationship? Will band-less parades & other similar scenarios an “extra-less” future mean that those voters in the community without children in the district will have even less relationship with the school than they have now?

    4. Extras have an economic impact. In my past I worked in economic development for an area Chamber of Commerce. It is an accepted axiom in the economic development community that school quality impacts corporate location decisions. If we hope as a community to build the tax base by attracting businesses we need to maintain our quality school system including the extras. It is often the extras that signify the difference between excellent districts that attract business & one that does not. Cutting extras as a “second floor” service impacts the economic attractiveness of Hilliard as a location choice. Even if you see a new public education business model on the horizon going first will undoubtedly have an economic impact.
    These areas must be considered as part of the Pay to Play conversation.

  24. I understand the viewpoint that implementing Pay to Play potentially creates a community of haves & have nots where those that can afford to play can, those that can’t don’t.
    A decision to not implement Pay to Play essentially does just that with more children unable to participate. There will be many students in our community that will simply not have the benefit of extras to round out their educational experience, build their teamwork & leadership skills & give them a sense of community.

    Elite athletes will always have choices regardless of their economic reality. Those role players regardless of economics & those on the poor end of the economic spectrum will be impacted.

    The number of community children negatively impacted by a cut of extras will be greater than those impacted by Pay to Play.

    Pay to Play can be implemented in a way that retains the character & shared experience across the community for participants of all financial & performance abilities. The District could construct a means based method of implementing the fees so that all children could participate. My brother teaches in Fredricktown & they have a two tiered pay to play structure. Simply if a child qualifies for the school lunch program the child’s pay to play is waived. In this more urban setting it might be more difficult but it is certainly doable.

    I believe it could be done in a manner that allows the school district to meet its obligations to balance its budget & meet its other obligations. I believe doing so will allow us as a community to focus on the challenge of our funding & spending model. I believe that engaging the community on Pay to Play has the potential of opening dialogue in other more important areas.

    If the best teams are built with the best “players” regardless of economic status & “extras” are an essential part of the learning process it is in our best interest to implement Pay to Play in a fair fashion. Limiting participants would limit the outcomes.

    I suggest the following:

    • Make decisions on the program from 7th to 12th grade across all sports & genders rather than at a price per sport basis. The unit of measurement should be an athlete not a basketballer versus a footballer versus a wrestler. Shared weight rooms, AD’s, trainers, insurance & so on are shared so I think it makes sense to assume the cost per athlete is equal sport to sport.
    • Developing a means tested way (let’s say school lunch qualification) that reduces or waives Pay to Play Fees.
    • Conducting a hard look at the cost of running our athletic programs to reduce the fees. Some sports lend themselves to parental transportation, do we always have to take busses? Parents line the fields for HYLA (youth lacrosse) & Optimist football, can they do the same to reduce labor in grounds keeping for the athletic programs? Do all coaches need to be paid?
    • Create a process to vet any parents with direct contact with the kids just as you would an employee. As a youth coach in multiple sports parent coaches can be wonderful things or terrible things. If you use parent talent to augment coaching staff the parents should be able to meet the same qualifications as a paid coach. Our coaches are so good in this system though I’d like to see coach-parents as a last resort.

    Again, my family consumes from all the extras. I think that athletics energizes more people than the other extras & is a natural rallying point to begin engaging the board & administration. I do believe that once we find our way on Pay to Play for sports we would have a template to use for music & academic programs.

  25. T ...

    The community is likely to get energized and engaged on Pay to Play. The result will be an involved better educated voting base to tackle the bigger issues.


  26. There are a lot of times either myself or a friend has been asked to pay for programs at school. There are economically challenged kids is all of these programs...How are scholarships handled for these?

    Stone Lab
    Trip to D/C
    Trips with the Choir
    Focus Trip to name a few...there are more!

    There is a lot of fundraising from these kids also to be able to participate. I might add most of these are academic programs.

    There is A LOT of speculation going on as to who can and can't pay. I feel we should offer an option and let the families figure out if it is something they want to budget for. Perhaps they cut out a dinner a month, or reduce unlimited texting, or sacrifice something else. Perhaps the parents have the kids work off some of the expense, cut grass, wash windows, dog sit...whatever... There are options for most who want to take the time to figure it out...those that can't...lets help.

    Has anyone called the public schools in Columbus who already have pay to play... How about the research around:
    Which schools have it
    How long
    How much for each student
    How many kids are REALLY excluded
    How do they handle scholarships
    Do the coaches get paid or paid less than they did
    How is transportation handled
    How is it received in their communities?
    What am I forgetting.....???

    We can philosophise forever but time is of the essence. Lets get some data on how successful or not these programs are. How can I help?

  27. I know this is small potatoes, but if pay to play is adopted...how about reducing the number of coaches? Two basketball coaches/middle school team...seems a bit much!

  28. People are acting as if pay to play is a new idea... we already do pay to play. Yes, the dollar amount is smaller but families pay to play in HCSD sports. As far as " not everyone would get a fair share " , please, they already do not. As mentioned above there are a TON of things not every student can do even if they are eligible. Family circumstances will not allow for everything. I have had to tell my children no to HCSD sponsored trips/etc on occasions. I believe that this issue needs to be an option and the families needs to be the ones who decide if their children can do it. As for only the " economically disadvantaged " being offered assistance, I completely disagree with that. There are many families with more than one child in the middle schools who may need help (mine is one )and those kids should not be shut out of asking for it.

  29. What is the dollar amount HCSD saved by cutting Middle School Sports?

  30. Paul, In response to your information on middle school basketball, you indicated your figures from last year showed 12 coaches for 6 teams. I believe you meant to say 12 teams, as each school has two boys teams (7 & 8th grade), and two girls teams. You also indicated each teams has 10 players, again, from what I saw last year, each team had between 13-15 kids on a team. If you pick the low end (13/team), that leaves you with 156 kids paying for $32,000 in salaries. My math shows $205/player. That is a far cry different than $535 you indicated. What worries me is if this is the type of research the board did in "deciding" if individuals had the financial ability to pay for their kids to play sports. I sometimes wonder if numbers aren't inflated and "put out there" as a way of discouraging individuals.

    I don't know if you've ever visited the football fields in Hilliard on a weekend in the fall, or the baseball/softball fields in the summer. The fields are packed with kids participating in sports. The last time I checked, these opportunities aren't free, so your continued responses about individuals not having the ability to pay for sports doesn't seem to hold a lot of substance.

    I understand your stance to try to keep everyone involved in extra-carricular activities and that everyone is equal, but all of us have to make sacraficies or pass on activities they would like to do. I'd love to live in a larger house, or go on vacations twice a year, but unfortunately, that's not in our budget at this time. Our family understands this, and we are greatful for what we have.

    In closing, I thought Hilliard was better than this. To believe that the board is this closed minded about the subject, just makes me scratch my head. I keep hearing that it will cost a lot of money, but I still haven't seen any concrete financial information. The only information I've seen is from your blog, and unfortunately, those numbers weren't correct.

  31. I agree with Alice. We are asked for fees for many things in public schools. The list Alice came up with are just a few. There are the same economically challenged kids in these programs too. Parents have to make decisions on if they can afford it or not. So why is it not ok for middle school sports? I understand the fee will be higher but from what I gather there are alot of people and businesses willing to help.

    Mr. Lambert you keep saying because it is public school and we need to be fair. Then why is it ok to ask for fees for some programs and then not others? I imagine there are scholarships/donations for some of these programs. Sports should be able to function the same way. Our kids learn alot about life and reality out on those fields. It can be a great learning experience just like the classroom.

    Other public school districts in Central Ohio seem to make Pay to Play work. Why can't we? They are public schools just like us.

    For those who really can't afford it, let's help them!

  32. At this time I only have a few minutes to write so I'll just touch on these items

    There is concern about the kids who can't afford the Pay to Play but what about the photography class in high school my son wanted to take that indicated we would need to buy a camera for the class? What do the disadvantaged kids do who want to take that class? Cameras can cost up to $1500.

    Currently baseball bats are costing around $400 for one. Basketball shoes for my son were $149. Somehow these disadvantaged kids are coming up with the money or are already not playing so they would not be affected by the Pay to Play.

    Another thought - maybe we should NOT do Pay to Play. Cut expenses somewhere else that won't affect so many kids directly. I'm sure there are some fancy items in the school that are not a necessity.

    I certainly don't want to see the Hilliard School District end up like Southwestern with the cut in sports and opportunities for our kids.

  33. While pay to play is not a great solution, it appears to be an option that will allow some children to play. The alternative is to allow NO children to play. Some is better than none.

    I read above that you disagree with offering the trip to DC since not all kids can afford it. Remember, most of us are not socialists, and moved to Hilliard to have a decent school system that offeren additional opportunities.

    While I do not agree with your comments, I do appreciate your blog and response to my email, as noted above, no other Board member responded.

  34. I bet the cost to implement and administer pay to play will be greater than the money it collects in the first year. To me it seems inefficient and unfair.

    You guys should quit trying to polish this turd. I understand where you are coming from. But encouraging the admin to open up new revenue channels is not going help us long term.

  35. It seems as if the Board is frustrated with the public for their lack of support on the levys in the past and cutting sports was one last 'gotcha'. As Dr. Phil asked: Do you want to be right or happy? LET'S MAKE HILLIARD HAPPY AND REINSTATE MIDDLE SCHOOL SPORTS AND CUT SOMETHING ELSE.

  36. Thanks for all the comments! Here's a few responses (by the way, it would be helpful if each of you used a unique name rather than "Anonymous" even if you use a pseudonym. For now, I'll reference your comments by the timestamp:

    2:23pm - I agree that if we only think about those formally categorized as "economically disadvantaged," we still have families not in that category for whom some activities are unaccessible because of the cost - particularly those with a number of kids in such activities.

    And I do know that we charge fees for lots of things now. I wish we didn't, and say so every time such things come up on the Board agenda.

  37. 2:34pm - Treasurer Brian Wilson says this number is $358,000, which I believe is the sum of the stipends paid to the coaches. However, this includes neither transportation costs nor revenue from the current activity fees.

  38. T & a few others: I'll agree somewhat about the "polishing". But right now our alternative is no sports at all (without addressing all extras) and that was a Board choice. And again, we all know where to come up with the money so these things don't have to be cut - or at least so that we don't need a levy every two years to pay for them. Get rid of, or reduce, step raises, plain and simple. Those upcoming contracts are hanging over our head like a sword and it really, really, really torques me!
    The Board would not admit last Saturday whose bright idea that was but it doesn't even matter - it was within the Boards prerogative to deny the extension and they did not do it. They licked the boots of the HEA/OASPE and let them look like shining stars. I simply cannot wait to see what the unions exact out of the board in return for their "sacrifice"!
    To Anon who never got responses to e-mails to the Board members, welcome to the HCSD!

  39. 2:36 - my apologies for assuming that there are 6 middle school basketball teams. That's an analysis I did making my own assumptions as I wrote this piece (not before the Board vote on the cut list), and were meant to illustrate the concept of including a 'scholarship subsidy' in the fee structure. Thanks for the correction.

    I'm not arguing for universal involvement, only universal accessibility to all the services offered by our schools for those with desire, ability and passion - but not the money - because I think that's the central mission of a public school system.

  40. Rottier: I completely agree. I'm not opposed to Pay-to-Play, I simply object to embedding programming in the public schools that are not economically accessible to all. But I'm sure there's a solution to that - we just need to figure it out.

  41. Paul you said "I'm not arguing for universal involvement, only universal accessibility to all the services offered by our schools for those with desire, ability and passion - but not the money - because I think that's the central mission of a public school system."

    Your stance then has more to do than with just Pay to Play. I don't think you should hamper Pay to Play for your larger agenda.

  42. 3:02pm - Neither do I. Nor do I want to see the offerings of our school divided into those truly available to all, and those available only if you have enough money. Otherwise we're not really running a public school district it would seem to me.

  43. 3:24 - I'm not a socialist either. In fact I advocate for exposing our education system to market forces to the maximum degree possible (see "Food Stamps").

    But we do have public school systems, and if that's the approach we're going to use for education in this country, we need to pay attention to how we divvy up the resources, and not deny services based on economic capacity, it would seem to me.

  44. 4:17 - Indeed it does. I feel that the first priority of public schools is to give every kid in our county access to education. We can't force them to learn, or expect them all to become doctors and lawyers and such.

    Otherwise we might as well retreat back to the days where only families with the resources could send their kids to school.

  45. It was interesting to see Brian White quoted in the SNP. I think eveyone in the community would agree that we should reward excellence. A program that has won two recent Ohio D1 titles should not have to worry about being stripped of middle school football.

    I wonder if putting a Nike or Under Armour emblem on our three schools uniforms would pay for middle school football?

  46. But wait. We can still field a team, right? We are only cutting the funding.

    I personally volunteer to be the strength coach. Thats the age a boy should be taught a proper squat and clean and good sprinting.

  47. Why are no other board members speaking to this issue?

  48. Cutting middle school sports saved the district $358,000. How many assistant principals are there at Darby, Bradley, and Davidson and what are their combined salaries?

  49. Pay to Play should be adopted as an alternative to cutting all middle school sports (extra curricular). As a school district and community we all hold a responsibility to educate children regardless of financial standing or economic situation. All children are entitled to an education through high school. That is why all property owners pay school taxes as required by law. This same entitlement / right DOES NOT carry over into the area of extra curricular activities. As mentioned in several postings, there a many activities offered through the schools that require additional funding from parents. The decision to pay a fee for participating in a extra curricular should be left up to the child's family. Prioritization of the spending of family income should remain with the family, not the school district. There are many things in life that I or my children want to have or do, but cannot afford it. As mentioned in other postings, if the children and parents feel strongly enough, they will make sacrifices and decisions to make things meet. If they can't, they can't. There child is still getting a great education through Hilliard City Schools. The decision is up to them not the school district. We have no problem as a school district to impose requirements for grades and classroom performance in order to participate in extra curricular. Something I support 100%. However, it seems with that rationale, we are not being "fair" to students that struggle in school or have learning challenges. If they don't have the grades, they cannot play. It seems very contradictory to impose those requirements, but be unwilling to entertain a Pay to Play system because it would not be fair to all. Punishing all the students athletes from middle school because we cannot create a fair economic system makes no sense at all. Many other school districts use pay to play and make it work. We must look at doing something quickly in order to protect the fall 2011 activities.

  50. Note: I corrected the calculations in the basketball fee illustration in the main article. Thanks for finding the flaw in my logic and correcting me

  51. T...

    We absolutely should reward excellence. Davidson's football exploits get top billing but there is a lot more excellence across the extras in this community. Did you know that a collective team of middle school wrestlers from Hilliard placed 3rd in a post season dual tournament? Pick an extra and Hilliard has an excellence story to share. That excellence is being taken is the ridiculousness.

    As I understand it if you had that sponsorship, check in hand, you might not be able to have it accepted. That would change the keep taking until the pain threshold forces a yes vote cycle.

    The Audit and Accountability Committee report is clear as to the issues. The core issues are in that report and aren't Pay to Play.

    Whether it is sponsorship from the outside, Pay to Play, a graceful spinout of all sports except football to clubs or some other scheme I think this issue is right to focus on because:

    1. "Let our kids play!" is more engaging and energizing than "We have a structural deficiency, fix it!"
    2. We as a community don't know how to open up engagement with a school board that doesn't desire engagement. We have some learning to do about the issues. I think a focus on the extra cuts is a way to accomplish both those things in a context many are interested in.

    Frankly, if the learning and idea sharing that has been done on this site over the years isn't put to action then the whole effort is turd polishing.

    I was surprised at how few people were at the board meeting this past Monday. I am going to the board meeting on May 23rd.

  52. Speaking on the topic of middle school basketball coaches, only one coach per grade is a paid coach. To clarify/correct a comment made earlier (11:44).

  53. GLS....good comments. Right on Target.

  54. As assumption... but I am guessing you could get volunteer parents (we have wonderful very qualified coaches in every sport) to be assistant coaches. Perhaps that would help the cost as well.

  55. I, too, had emailed all 5 board members and did not get a response from 4 of them. Why? Are they letting Mr. Lambert do the communicating? If so, they may want to chime in just to say how they feel, othewise it looks as if they are avoiding the conversation...Take a stance so we know what you are thinking...please!

  56. In the private sector, when times are tough, I've personally seen every employee of a company take a 10% pay cut from the CEO on down. This helped to avoid massive layoffs.

    If SB5 becomes law, is this an option?

    What would the financial picture look like if everyone took a 10% pay cut?

  57. I voted for the levy and I'm very sad for teachers who will lose their jobs, and that middle school sports and music programs will be cut. But we have an opportunity here to do something for our kids' athletics at least. As a parent, I want to be able to choose what we can and can't do for our kids. Other districts operate on the pay-to-play program so let's model after them. Tonight I'm going to watch my 7th grader play baseball against a rival team for the last game of the season. I can't imagine having none of this next year. Isn't it supposed to be all about the kids?? I vote for less talk, more action before it's too late for fall sports. Thanks.

  58. Anon 9:40 Of course it SHOULD be an option - after all, negotiations are two-sided. Would the unions agree to it? I sincerely doubt it. Not sure it would even take that "draconian" cut to get things back on track anyway. But it will take a much more scaled back contract than the existing one. All of the recent contracts in Central Ohio seem to have been scaled back - one can only hope the HCSD follows suit. Even with that, it is past time for the district to adapt in many other ways. I hope that many of the proposals here make it to the administration from the original authors - the more voices they hear, the better.

  59. 9:40am - The direct answer to your question is that of our $157m of total spending in FY10 (FY11 has not yet closed out), we spent $137m, or 87.2%, on compensation and benefits.

    This information is available in a couple of reports on the District website. The easiest to read is the Five Year Forecast, which you can find here

  60. 7:56am - To be clear, I am not speaking on behalf of the Board. These are my personal opinions, which may or may not be shared by other Board members.

    I simply come from a corporate culture were we were richly rewarded for communicating frequently and openly with our customers, employees and other stakeholders, and believe that philosophy is appropriate in this setting as well.

    There are times when an official response is required, and in those cases, the President of the Board will speak for all of us.

  61. 9:40 - regarding SB5: while it mandates certain elements of the compensation structure (e.g. the % of healthcare premium costs absorbed by the employee), most things are a matter of local scope - to be decided between the employee team and the district leadership, as has always been the case. We need to have this conversation in a respectful and empathetic way if we want to come out of it still a great school district.

    That's the reason I refuse to allow comments that are ignorant and hateful.

  62. $200 to play Middle School basketball? SOLD! Optimist basketball approaches $100! Travel is far more than that. Most kids who are able to make middle school basketball have played at the Optmist level at minimum and likely travel. $200 is a bargain! I bet the football share would be even LESS considering how many kids play

    Now, the district will never allow this without significant pressure, because sports and FOCUS are the carrots by which they get the levy passed!

    Why do folks not get involved? Honestly, because there is no reciprocated conversation! The district and Board (other than Paul) look at you like a whiner or a PIA if you address them. Everything about Dale McVey and most of the Board says "don't approach me, I'm not listening to you". Body language says a lot about engagement.... they are clearly not engaged.

    Another thing, I personally don't speak up because I know what a vindictive duo Leslie and Dale are. Do not ever cross Leslie McNaughten, she has the memory of an elephant and will find her time and seek revenge. Teachers, parents, and students alike know what she is about. And Dale is her puppet, IMO.

    Now, we need to save $4 Million dollars. In ROUGH numbers, a 2% cut across the compensation line would save about $4 Million dollars. Did the HEA or Admin discuss this at all? a 2% reduction to save the day and get a lot of good PR out of it only makes sense!

    Shoot, If McVey and staff would give up their bonuses for testing scores (believe me, they get them) they could have saved FOCUS alone!

    There are options people! But the only option the Board and District want to explore is the one where WE pay, not where THEY make concessions.

    If EVERYBODY gave a little (taxpayers, programming, teachers, administrators), $4M could be saved easily! No reason one leg of the stool has to carry the full burden. What about a 1% reduction in pay for everyone, increased fees, and a small levy? Everyone pays and the kids win! Seems simple, but they sure make it hard

    Granted this is a SHORT TERM fix to a long term problem, but it would certainly go a long way in promoting good will!

    Attitude reflects leadership... What's our district attitude? I'd say a poor reflection of leadership (or lack of)

  63. FOCUS could be restructured and made to work for a lower cost. Did anyone look at that?

    It's a shame that most of our money increases go to support the lower 20%, but we continue to reduce spending for the top 20%. BOTH require investment! Why is it so one-sided when cuts come?

    Don't tell me because one is mandated and the other isn't. That's a cop out answer! There are areas to cut that don't reduce the offerings to our best and brightest!

  64. Interesting thoughts Paul. I think it's a shame our district went in this direction rather than cutting what I perceive to be more wasteful: all the vice principals, college campus-like buildings, and board kowtowing to the unions when making wage and benefit deals.

    I'll play devil's advocate although I don't feel quite as strongly as I'll sound from here on in...

    I appreciate your sensitivity to some children not being able to afford extracurriculars but am a bit dubious. First, parents who send their children to public schools are educating their children at a huge discount compared to private school parents. Other parents make a huge investment in their children by homeschooling. I don't think it's too onerous to ask public school parents to pay extra money for extracurriculars.

    Second, while the aim is noble, there's no way to even the playing field between haves and have-nots. The advantages or disadvantages that a child receives from his parents are gigantic and dwarf the effect of presence of extracurriculars. There's no way to level the playing field, literally. We can try, but let's try to do it with education, not extracurriculars. We'll never be able to eliminate all disappointments children might encounter while growing up and we'll never be able to prevent the "wealth gap" from revealing itself, in one way or another, in children's lives.

    Third, I think part of the reason costs get out of control - be it in the health care sector or education - is when folks don't know how much something costs and don't feel some of the pain of that cost. Once we start to hide costs by wrapping them in with other costs we can get in trouble. Sports, our national religion, will continue to get out of control until it's no longer riding on the back of the education dollar.

  65. If you don't see your comment here, it's not because I deleted it (you'll see the placeholder on the rare times I do that). Blogger has had some kind of glitch, and I think some comments might have been lost...

  66. Jerry:

    Aren't there many many stories of disadvantaged kids from crappy home situations who were given the opportunity to find themselves and excel because of sports (or other extracurriculars)?

    It is not the mission of public school to ensure equal outcomes for all kids. But I believe it is the central mission to ensure that all kids have equal opportunity regardless of their economic situation.

  67. Ok...take the money out of the equation. Volunteer coaches...there are many out there who would love to coach these kids. By not considering pay-to-play you are taking an opportunity from our children; the opportunity to represent their school in a sport they love. I believe that if the HCSD does not have the leverage of taking/allowing sports, they don't have a chance to pass another levy in the fall, and that is why pay-to-play will not be considered.

  68. I guess I haven't been clear. I'm okay with any P2P solution that ensure that economically disadvantaged kids who have the passion and ability to participate gets the same shot as any other kid.

  69. ok...then there is your solution. Volunteers and pay-to-play...where do we go from here to make it happen?

  70. A resolution needs to be brought before the Board where it can be discussed and voted on. Stand by.

  71. I understand the reasoning of Jerry, as far as not always being able to eliminate the inequities in life, but basically, I agree with Paul. Public school should be the equalizer. There is enough of life ahead for these students to show the differences between the "haves" and "have nots."

    I have always thought that our district's problem, though, is not one of not having enough revenue, it's one of allocation. And I think the district voters have spoken. There IS a limit on how much money we are able to pay to support the district.

    But I saw an article in ThisWeek Hilliard about the Teacher of the Year Award going to Mark Tremayne. I'm happy for him and appreciate his dedication and hard work. But he teaches Sports and Entertainment Management. Are you kidding me???? How important is it that we educate our children about this??

    As far as I'm concerned, that is the decision this district has made. If there is not enough money for sports, it's because the choice has been made to support 20 different art classes and 12 different business classes in EACH high school. I'm not knocking arts or business. Both are important; both serve a vital role. But there are also 7 computer science classes at Bradley, including Computer Science Game Development and 27 different English/Language Arts classes. I think my point is clear.

    But with THAT MANY different course offerings that have a limited number of students who would even take them, to me, that is this district's choice. There is plenty of money for sports. The district has chosen instead to provide a course offering selection that is well beyond just the basics. The cost per student of those who take these eclectic classes maybe should be weighed against the benefit and cost of those who would participate in sports. The high school course offering selection reads like a college catalog. But if that is our community's choice, so be it. We have made a conscious decision to deny all 12 year olds the benefit of sports, so that a select group of high school students can get a leg up on freshman year in college, on the district's dime.

    That's our current choice. We can live with it, or seek to change it.

  72. Thanks Old Hilliard. You make an excellent point.

    School districts such as ours are complex organisms which have developed into what they are one layer at a time over many years. While it is clear that nearly 90% of our money is spent on one thing - compensation & benefits - the total amount of comp/benefits spending is the product of TWO numbers: 1) How much people are getting paid; and, 2) how many people are employed.

    It's easy to zero in on the first component, but as you point out, the latter merits attention as well.

    The two components interact: the more of one we choose, the less of the other we can afford, assuming that there isn't a bottomless pool of funding dollars (there isn't).

    Your point, and I agree with it, is that we can't just look at step raises and base pay increases as we seek to create sustainable economics in our community. We have to examine the breadth of programming and services offered as well.

    That's not an easy conversation. Every program has its constituency, and they get vocal when their favorite program/service is affected (e.g. this P2P situation).

    One thing that would lessen the need for more funding is a community decision to narrow the scope of our offerings.

    We need to find more opportunities for the people of our community to get involved in this discussion. I hope that happens this summer, as the Board nears the Aug 10 deadline for deciding whether or not a levy will be on the Nov ballot, and if so, how large it will be.

  73. As am important side note, August 10 is also the date for candidate filing for the two open school board positions.


  74. I guess before it is voted on, it would be nice if we have some actual numbers, and how the budget was calculeted for this. I really haven't seen any numbers other than your example for basketball.

    Next, how is the resolution brought before the board, and if it is passed, how long does this take? My only concern is, if we wait too long and it is passed, then we miss out on scheduling for the upcoming fall season.

    Finally, it's nice to see that you have at least indicated the issue isn't dead, and that there is still a chance to get this passed. I may not agree with some of your philosophies, but I at least applaud you for answering the questions. That's more than I can say about the other four board members.

  75. The Superintendent and President prepare the agenda for the meeting. Other members may also make motions to add items to the agenda, but such a motion requires a second and an affirmative vote by the majority of the quorum present.

    Resolutions are effective when passed, unless otherwise specified in the resolution. The next Board meeting is Mon 5/23, 7pm at Tharp.

    I've never expected agreement on everything I say. In fact, I learn more from people who engage in respectful disagreement, and it often shapes my thinking going forward. Such may be the case with this P2P issue.

    Now more than ever, we need more people to engage in the debate about how to run our school district. Not just viewed through the narrow view how one's own kids are affected, but from the broad perspective.

    Our schools are an institution funded by the entire community, and we need to have some hard conversations about matching expectations with capacity.

  76. I don't mean to hijack the P2P thread but I want to share something I think is important to P2P as well as all of the other issues we face.

    I have been a "regular" on this blog for all of about two weeks. We moved to Hilliard for the schools and have built both a family and a business here. We aren't going anywhere so I have decided to educated myself and get involved. When I started doing that I didn't know what "get involved" meant. I do now.

    In two weeks of immersing myself in this I wanted to share some observations:

    1. The only time most of us communicate with the board and its individual members is when there is a problem. I'm guilty of that.

    2. It is easy to send an email. When I send emails I expect replies or at least an acknowledgement that it was sent. But I have no idea if my email was the only one they got that day or 1 of 100. I've heard people say don't send emails they don't get read. They do. The board members just don't do a good job of replying or acknowledging them. (NOTE: To be fair, Paul did reply to my email).

    3. The board members do take phone calls. They do mingle with the crowd after school board meetings. They attend other school activities.

    4. If you've been by the Dispatch and read the comment boards there it is unbelievable how vile and personal the attacks from both sides can be. Some of the messages that the board members get have that same edge to them.

    5. The union, the administration, other interests have relationships with the board members. They know them by name and have conversations with them about things other than that one issue that activates them. Those relationships exist independent of an election goal. The taxpayers and parents are at a disadvantage because we only activate on an issue. We are, as a group, mostly only constructively involved in that moment we push yes or no or vote on a particular candidate. Yet, others, with their interests, like the union and the administrators in the forefront have real relationships with the board.

    Don't get me wrong. I know that everyone that reads and posts at Save Hilliards Schools doesn't agree and represent some block. But the adult conversation that happen on this blog need to be happening with the board out in the open. And I think I can go so far as to say everyone here would agree with that.

    Here's what I am going to do. Paul regularly invites us to get involved. I think more of us should:

    1. Continue sending emails. They get read. Don't expect a response and you won't be disappointed.
    2. If you need a response call the board member or introduce yourself after a board meeting. They are approachable.

    3. Build a relationship with them. If you expect them to make the right tough decisions that are ahead they need your support. Those decisions will be made with a lot pressure and all the negative invective on the Dispatch board but right in the board members face. It is hard to stand tall when you are standing alone.

    I am going to the board meeting on May 23rd. And I've put the remaining 2011 board meetings on my calendar. Worse that can happen is I'll meet a few Hilliard folks I don't know today. And if enough people come and continue to come the dialogue that needs to happen will be easier to have.

  77. Paul - I first wanted to thank you for being the only board member that has responded and at least taken some initiative to getting, thoughts, ideas, and discussion out there. I have not heard from any of the other board members? Unlike an earlier blogger, I DO expect a response from each and every board member. Any taxpayer or parent of a Hilliard City School student deserves a response. I will take this into consideration at future board member elections.
    I find this troubling that we (concerned parents) have not been given any direction on implementing a P2P system, except to attend a board meeting. Is that the process to continue moving this FORWARD? I guess we can all pack Tharp on 5/23 and listen to the school board? I don’t think anyone on the board wants to touch this. This all feels like stall tactic. A blog is set up, everyone is emotional, post comments, get replies, more comments, more replies, but NOTHING IS HAPPENING. The school board has not given us any type of process, procedure, guidance, or alternatives to avoiding this unfortunate decision to cut middle school athletics. Let's face it - The school board and administration does not want P2P fully implemented because they will loose all their so called leverage and “shock factor” in trying to get levy’s passed now and in the future. They play the “cut athletics card” to get everyone’s attention, and it works! As an earlier blogger commented, that sports are such a very important and large part of American life. That is correct and the school board knows it. We are cutting roughly $500K in middle schools athletics towards our goal of $4M? If my math is right that is 12.5% of the total. Am I to understand that in this school district we can't find $500K in other spend reduction opportunities? I worked for a company that went 2.5 years without an increase in pay and employees had to pay a larger part of the benefit costs each year. Naturally, we didn’t like it, but we did it to keep the company viable into the future. This is off the table for our school district employees. What other choices? I guess we can look at an earlier suggestions: multiple vice principals, pay of athletic directors, multiple art and business classes,etc. I heard Darby High School offers a “Fitness" class where the students lift weights and work out during the day for a grade and partial credit hours. I’m told this class is being PUSHED on all the student athletes. Are you kidding me???? Like this shouldn’t be one of the first things on the chopping block during tough times?! No, we will target middle school sports for the community “shock factor”! A gentleman recently noted in a letter to the Northwest news editor, to look at www.buckeyeinstitute.com to see some of the salaries and fringe packages of the Hilliard City School teachers and administrators. If you haven’t looked at this, please do! It is enlightening! Trust me fellow bloggers, the board does not want P2P especially before November's election. They are going to string this debate out as long as possible and make us feel the pain of no middle school fall sports. They want to send a message and use that threat to get the levy passed in November. I voted for the recent levy and have voted for all of them in the past. However, come November 2011 my support most likely will be against the levy. The more I think about it, I’d rather pay a higher P2P fee for the athletics my children participate in then pay additional $500-$600 property tax in perpetuity.

  78. Lloyd:

    Thanks for the comments.

    I understand your frustration with the pace of the process. Please understand that this blog is my personal communications device, something I've been publishing since 2006, well before I was elected to the Board. This is not an official communications channel, and my articles and comments do not represent the policy or opinions of the Board, any of its members, or the Administration. It's just a way I feel comfortable communicating, having spent a career with a company that helped define online communications (CompuServe).

    The Board can make decisions and direct the Administration to carry them out only in the context of a Board meeting. The agenda for those meetings is set by the Superintendent and the Board President, and are customarily published on the district website on the Friday before each meeting. By law, the Board may not meet to discuss official business outside a duly called meeting.

    The process may seem frustratingly cumbersome and slow, but I don't think we want the Board making snap decisions, without due process. I feel confident saying that each and every Board member has been thinking about this. The meeting next Monday will be the next opportunity to have a discussion. Respectful input from our fellow community members is always welcome.

  79. Someone asked why the board "simply decided to CUT instead of offer different options" and part of the response was "democracy is not a spectator sport".

    That might be simplifying the conversation a bit, but that's the gist -- "get involved".

    Let's not overlook that while *democracy* is not a spectator sport, that *politics* is *not democracy*. I'd bet that these cuts are being carefully selected to impact families to get them to vote on whatever the next levy puts forth just to un-do the cuts, rather than to actually engage the electorate.

    This is not directed specifically at you Paul, but let's be honest, the board and especially the administration is focused on getting as much money into the system as possible. The choices being made are not being made to be responsible, they are being made to frighten and intimidate.

  80. Dear Anonymous you are dead on! Great points! The reason the targeted cuts are announced prior to the elections is the fear factor. We have P2P right now. $55 per athlete, per sport, per season in the middle schools. All it would take is an adjustment and recalc to that amount. The board and administration will not support that because as you stated, "the board and especially the administration is focused on getting as much money into the system as possible". That way the district can fund ridiculous programs like fitness classes at the high schools for student athletes to lift and workout during the day. This is in addition to the regular physical education classes. I'm sure if the board put classes like that on the chopping block the community would support the cut and not vote for the levy's. But they want the $'s and they know the rawest nerve with the parents and the community is athletics. Although that cut only get's them 12% of the way, they will tug that nerve until the levy passes. Please check out the buckeye institute website if you haven't. Elementary school teachers making close to $100K per year plus full benefits that they don't pay for. Regardless the board and administration are going to cut athletics to make a statement. Something is seriously wrong with this entire picture.

  81. Paul,
    I would like to first say thank you. Thank you for being the only board member to respond to my email, and thank you for writing this blog post and providing a place for the community to respond.
    The chart you posted is sobering. The most troubling aspect is of course the large deficit looming. However, the second most troubling is a near linear expense forecast. Even after the cuts projected, there is a one year flattening, and then the expenses rise linearly again. I would be very interested in seeing a breakdown of the primary drivers of that expense forecast. Is it salaries? Building costs and maintenance? Pension obligations? Health care?
    It seems to me that understanding what is driving our expense growth and addressing that is as necessary as trying to raise revenue to address the deficit. Based on my (admittedly limited) understanding of the situation, the current cuts the board is planning don’t address the systemic cost increases, just short term budget issues. By cutting things like gifted education and middle school sports, it seems to me the board/district is taking a short term view of the issues here, not addressing the underlying systemic issues. My evidence is your red dotted line that changes the 5 year deficit by what looks to be less than 10%.
    I am frustrated by your comments regarding community engagement. I can see why you might see it disappointing that people are not involved until they feel pain, but from my point of view, it is disappointing that those we have elected to handle this for us feel that we need to drive their agenda. In addition, when the board/district makes cuts they know are going to be unpopular, and make those cuts first, and those cuts do almost nothing to address the underlying issues, I have to wonder why they were even made in the first place.
    I do disagree with one thing you wrote. Nearly every extracurricular activity in the Hilliard Schools requires money. Whether it is participating in the music programs (instruments are not cheap), taking part in field trips, or programs like Astrotrek, and sports currently, there is already a separation between the “haves” and the “have-nots”. The 8th grade trip to DC cost $1000 at Heritage a couple of years ago, and that cost was too much for our budget, so our daughter was unable to participate. So to object to a pay-to-play scheme based on the fact that some students would be unable to participate seems to me a weak argument, because the same issue is there in every extracurricular activity today, and I am not seeing a push to eliminate all of those activities due to the inability of some students to pay.
    Finally, again, thank you for your efforts to reach out to the community via email and this blog, and your thoughtful replies to the people commenting on it. I appreciate the effort and time involved.

  82. Mark:

    I invite you to read a recent article I posted in regard to the budget decisions our community must now make. There are no easy ones - our spending is running away from our funding, and unlike the Federal govt, we can't print cash, or even borrow money when we run out.

    No, we don't feel you have to drive the agenda. We come to office with our our own beliefs (I've written over 300 articles on this blog over the past 4+ years documenting mine), and will act on them absent public input. All I'm saying is that if you don't show up and weigh in while decisions are being made, don't complain after the fact about what happens.

    I've expressed my concern about activities like the DC trip, and even the academic fees that we charge. For me, the whole purpose of the public school system is to provide equal opportunities to the next generation based on their individual ability and passion, not economic status. If that were not the case, we wouldn't need public schools, which use tax money paid by the whole community to fund the education of a few.

    Many people mistakenly believe that their own property taxes provide enough funding to send their kids to our public schools. I certainly thought that was the case for many years. But at our current spending level of $11,000/kid, that's true only if the home is valued at $470,000 for each kid in school - almost $1 million if there are two school age kids. There are some homes in that price range in our district, but generally the case is that the cost of having one's kids in our schools is subsidized by the homeowners who don't, as well as the businesses of our community (who pay property taxes too, and don't get a vote). Few are paying their own way - nearly all are the beneficiaries of some degree of 'charity' from our neighbors. It's part of the community contract set up when the public school system was created.

    Activities that don't meet the criteria of being accessible to all should happen outside the auspices of the public school system, at no cost or liability to the taxpayers, in my opinion.

  83. Paul, you state:
    "No, we don't feel you have to drive the agenda. We come to office with our our own beliefs (I've written over 300 articles on this blog over the past 4+ years documenting mine), and will act on them absent public input. All I'm saying is that if you don't show up and weigh in while decisions are being made, don't complain after the fact about what happens."

    Do you think that is a fair assessment of what happened in March and April? Do you think it is fair for the administration to send out a budget cut list right before spring break and then schedule a vote on it the day after? Did the public have a chance to weigh in while the decisions were being made? I realize you voted NO on March 28 to give more time to flush out the issues, but how can you say that the public is informed enough by the administration and board to be able to weigh in on its decisions when this kind of consideration is given to us? Do you expect parents of kids who play middle school sports or parents of gifted children to speak at every meeting between 2008 and March 2011 to tell you how much we value middle school sports or gifted education? What exactly are you suggesting we do here? I realize your frustration with public participation, but come on, this board has to take ownership as being part of that problem too.

    Why aren't board meetings recorded and posted online, on the district's website? Any board of a district this size should have a recording of its meetings available. I for one will catch the Columbus Public board meetings on cable -- and learn a lot from watching their proceedings. I've also attended some of their meetings as a public official. They aren't pulling in the crowds either at the meetings, but at least they give the public opportunity to know what is going on beyond being able to make a meeting every other Monday, when we are getting home from work, feeding kids, running to activities, doing errands, etc.

    I'm frustrated to no end about what has taken place here. I too have sent emails and have only heard back from you. The rest of the board isn't really interested in engaging a conversation about good stewardship and overall policy goals for this district -- despite their showing up at a Coffee. "Nice to see you but we'll still do it our way" is the impression I got the morning of May 7.

    As for fees, my parents paid for my public school trip to Washington DC when I was in 7th grade, some thirty or so years ago, and other activity fees. And some things we just couldn't afford. This concept isn't new. It is nice to say in theory that activities should be accessible to all, but I wonder if it EVER was the case in all aspects. Were you the product of public education? Did your family pay for absolutely nothing? Where does this ideal come from?

    We can only engage when we are informed and I would say this administration and board is sorely lacking in any desire to genuinely communicate and openly discuss matters before they act. We should not be asked to accept the blame here.

  84. I don't think Pay to Play is an appropriate term to use. This is because just because a parent pays, payment will not guarantee playing time. The student atheletes still must prove themselves by skill, leadership and hardwork. I have heard "pay to participate" is better language in this situation.

  85. Well, I just heard the news that they are taking P2P out for fall sports, and then they are going to try to push the bond issue through in November. As mentioned numerous times in other posts, their only leverage in this is sports, so there was no way they were going to consider this. My "Yes" vote in the previous bond issue has now been changed to "No". With all of the wasteful spending in our schools, why do I want to pay more? Most people are more than willing to pay for their own kids to play sports, so I really don't see a downside to this. I'm almost embarrassed to say I live in Hilliard. Didn't the board see what happened to Southwestern?

  86. Paul,

    When I posted my thoughts, I had not yet had the opportunity to look through your blog postings to see all of the information there. I appreciate your effort in putting all of this info out there, and in replying to all these comments. I do disagree with your stance on some of these issues, but I do want to thank you for being forthright and upfront about your beliefs, and for providing a great deal of information that would otherwise be difficult to gather.


  87. Anonymous, my understanding is it is not the board, but the administration that made this decision. It is up to us to convince the board to overturn the administration's decision.

  88. What I was told was that it came from the Superintendent, but it just hasn't been announced yet. I hope I'm wrong, but it's from a pretty reliable source.

  89. So the decision to not use P2P for fall MS sports is "official" and "final"?

    Anon @ 1:55... I think you meant to say operating levy (vs. bond issue), right? Bond issues are used to build facilities, operating levies are used to run the schools.

  90. Anon 12:23

    I agree that the leadership of this school district could be much better communicators, and I've been saying this for years as well - with many of the same suggestions you have made. I can and do try to change that behavior from my one seat at the table, but frankly it's going to take the voice of the community make it happen, whether by a significant expression of that desire by the community to the current members, or at the voting booth.

    By the way, here is a copy of the proposal I made to the other Board members - which I made note of at the last Board meeting - for a process for digging into the significant financial issues facing our district.

    Yep, I'm a product of public education, and there were indeed school associated activities I participated in that cost something extra. Frankly, I didn't think much (okay, not at all) about kids who might have been shut out of activities because of cost, because of course the only thing that mattered to me was whether or not I got to participate.

    But I don't think today the same way I did as a kid. I'm a capitalist at heart who believes that competition drives improved performance, and that an minimally (but sufficiently) regulated market is the only way to set prices, whether for products or for labor. I've described a way to organize our country's education system that is consistent with these beliefs.

    I think it would be perfectly fine if our public schools offered nothing but the basic elements of primary/secondary education, and everything else had to be self-funded through tuition or fees.

    But that's not what we have. It's a mixed up system of some must-have stuff and lots of nice-to-have electives. And the funding streams are equally confused.

    What if we decided to make entire gamut of extracurricular offerings in our schools self-funding? And I mean go all the way, including the capital costs. What would it cost to participate in extracurricular options if the cost to service the debt we're carrying due to the construction costs of competition and performance venues had to be covered as well with participation fees? I bet this would push the cost of the participation fees outside the zone of tolerance for a lot more families. But it sure would lower the tax bills for the rest of us.

    There's not much that's black and white in this debate. It's really a conversation about values. I have mine, and I suspect there are some number of folks who agree with me on this point about accessibility for all.

    Others feel differently, and are willing to raise the participation fees as long as they remain within their own range of affordability, and no higher.

    Very few seem willing to go all the way, and completely sever the school district and its taxpayers from the cost of administering the programs and providing the facilities. Getting 50,000 or so taxpayers to share the cost is a lot cheaper for participants than concentrating on the cost on just the few thousand participating families.

    By the way, Lakota Schools, near Cincinnati, is getting close to this point. Check out page 4 of this presentation from their website. Their district is a lot like ours in both size, demographics, and fiscal challenges. It will be interesting to see how they go about solving these problems.

  91. Anon 1:55pm:

    Just a point of technical clarification: "Bond issues" are used to fund capital expenditures, like school buildings and furnishings. The issue that was just on the ballot was an "operating levy" which generate funds to pay salaries and benefits, utility bills, supply expenses and all the other day-to-day costs of operating a school district.

    I, and I'm sure the other Board members, are acutely aware of what happened in South Western schools. Their failure was that they didn't have an effective community process in place for resolving the tension between means and desire.

    We have to do better.

  92. Thanks Mark. We'll never get all the stakeholders of this school district to completely agree on everything, but need to have a way to debate and compromise.

    That is achieved only through effective communications. I hope this blog helps that a little, but we really need a process facilitated by the school district. This proposal could be a component of that.

    What do you think?

  93. STJ: P2P has yet to be discussed by the Board.

  94. Does the board have the power to override the Superintendent? Reading between the lines and from what I've heard from a member of the athletic department, the Superintendent has made the decision to cancel fall sports, but the board hasn't voted on this yet. Does this sound correct?

  95. The Board has the ultimate authority in a public school district, within the bounds specified by law. But one hopes that there wouldn't be that kind of contentiousness between the Board and the Superintendent.

    Besides, the real ultimate authority lies with the voters.

  96. Thanks for the clarification. I didn't think that the BOE had come to a decision on P2P. And that when they do, those discussions will be held in public.

  97. I have heard no sports and no one associated with the school (current and/or former coaches included) are permitted to even run a club. Is this true?

  98. Again: P2P has yet to be discussed by the Board.

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

  100. Here is about 99% of the comment that I deleted above. The only thing removed were allegations which might well be true, but are unsubstantiated.


    I appreciate what you are trying to say. Your position is if there were more community engagement we could change the course of this district. But my question is where is the basis that the district hears ANYTHING? Can you provide me examples where community participation at Board Meetings has led to a discussion that ultimately changed the course of the board/administration? I've attended board meetings, sent emails to district officials, and participated in other attempts to "engage". Many others (perhaps not enough, but certainly more than a few) and from what I can see the story is always the same: deafening silence and then "business as usual".

    I'm not trying to pull a "Rick" and bemoan the same point to exhaustion. But the level of disengagement from the board and admin is much greater than the disengagement from the public. In all due respect, other than you, Who actually listens to those that try to participate? I've seen NO exidence that public participation in any way sways the district leadership. They are going to do what they do, in a calculated way to do what they believe is in their best interest. Even if their intention is what is best for the district, they certainly show no ability or desire to listen to the public. We are "tolerated" at board meetings because we have to be, but it ends there. No discussion, no comments, and certainly no "compromise". Seriously, your idea of a true community conversation is somewhat of a pipe dream. Sure, under ideal circumstances it is the best approach and would actually work! But stop blaming the public and stop calling on us to participate unless your fellow district leaders begin to participate in the conversation. From what I can tell, THEY are the ones not communicating and are the ones unwilling to consider alternate views.

    At least from where I sit, that's how I see it.

    I think the question is whether or not the people of the community want the behavior you describe, and which I have written about for years, to change. If so, this may be one of those moments in time when it can be pushed in a new direction. But I can't do it alone. The Board needs to hear from you, and the public participation time is a great time to be heard. It in public, on the record, and observed by the press. Don't give up now!

  101. CJ - your points are valid. I have also attended board meetings and experienced the lack of engagement from the board and the non-value add rhetoric. As a community, our voice is only heard at the voting booth. My recommendation - vote all the board members out and get new ones in!

  102. Per Paul to CJ, "The Board needs to hear from you, and the public participation time is a great time to be heard. It in public, on the record, and observed by the press. Don't give up now!"

    Paul, I can't agree more that the public has to express its dissatisfaction. My question is, are public comments "on the record really?" There is no reference to public speakers on the copy of the minutes that are posted on the website, which I can only conclude is the official copy. A list of names and general subject area of comment is all that is needed. I have actually wondered about that for a long time. This is why meetings should be recorded in some fashion and posted on the website. Further, some people submit a written copy of their comments to the board members. Are these attached to the "official copy" of the minutes at district hq? Technically, once distributed, they are public record and must be maintained. In my opinion, they should also be provided with the posted minutes on the website or at least referenced so the public can ask for them if they wish. This holds true for the proposal that you distributed at the last meeting to the other board members. If handed out, it should be referenced in the minutes so at least the public knows that it exists. (BTW, thanks for sharing it with us here.) In theory, this also serves as a reminder to the board members as to who spoke and what they said. Otherwise, we feel we are forgotten before the board even pulls in their garages after a meeting.

    BTW, I think you put forth a good outline for the board, and I hope it is adopted.

  103. A recording is made to cassette tape for each meeting. It may be transferred from that tape to a disk file as well. Ohio's sunshine laws state that a sufficiently detailed record of a public meeting needs to be kept so that the public can understand the reasoning behind the decisions made by a public body. So the detail is there, if requested, and that satisfies the law.

    I'd rather see the actual recording posted on the website, as is done in neighboring school districts like Olentangy, which also makes them available as podcasts via iTunes. When Justin Gardner, Don Roberts and I ran as a team in 2009, this was one of our commitments.

  104. Paul,

    Thanks for posting my comment even though it contained unsubstantiated truths.

    However, I see no indication that the DISTRICT is enganged. Please explain to me how I should help and what I should expect from my district leadership when I engage. To date, I am talking to a wall that says nothing and recognizes no comments or suggestions. Should we just keep talking and hope that one day they listen? That is a very frustrating experience! Other than a push from the Board, the Superintendant and Treasurer are not inclined to come out from their cacoon. We have ONE vocal member on the Board and that is it. I see the Board as passive and allowing the administation that is accountable to you to do whatever they want. When will we see a Board that will take issue with SOMETHING? The longest discussion on record was the tobacco-free discussion. Now, if we had that kind of discussion regarding finance and value-priced education we would get somewhere.

    I'm sorry, I just can't listen to "the public needs to get engaged" speech anymore without highlighting that the BOE and district need to do the same. At least we have SOME people from the public engaged, while I see no administration and maybe one board member. Seems like things are tilted a bit.

    Sure, we can vote the 4 disengaged members off the board, but that will take YEARS to do. We don't have years! But we can do nothing about the 2 Board appointed administrators... YOU (the Board) have to do that. You guys start pushing back on the administration and show the public that a real conversation has started and I bet the public participation increases! But I'm afraid it is going to take the BOE to take a stand to show the public YOU are ready for us to engage. Otherwise, we are just talking in a vacuum.

  105. A rumor hits the streets. The rumor is that a bond levy will be on the ballot in November. Sports will be held over our head to get us to pass that levy. The Superintendent has decided.

    At least two problems with the rumor that lead me to believe that it isn't accurate:

    1. The Board has to approve the recommendations of the Superintendent so he is a recommender not a decider. So even if that will be the recommendation of the Superintendent to the Board it is the Board's decision to make. The Board has not had a meeting since May 9th. The next meeting is May 23rd. Will you be there?

    2. The next levy won't be a bond levy but an operating levy.

    I have talked to people who were energized by the Pay to Play issue that have heard the rumor. These people were going to write letters and come to the board meeting but now say they will pass on it because what they think doesn't matter.

    And yet if there is some truth in that rumor your voice actually matters more now than it did when the rumors were that the Board was considering it.

    Professional lobbyists who are paid to engage politicians spend countless hours building relationships with their policy targets. A single letter isn't going to sway opinion. And the conversation about pay to play isn't just about some of us getting football helmets on our boys in the Fall.

    Are extras really extras?
    Academics are taught in the classroom. Leadership and other lessons are taught in field, in clubs, on the court and so on. Should leadership be a part of the curriculum?
    Is our curriculum going to be a state and federal minimum or are we going to preserve elements of Hilliard's excellence in unique ways?
    If we have to cut extras can we do it in a way that eases the transition into clubs and other venues?
    Accessibility is important for all but is a transition to non-school sponsored sports really an abdication of our commitment to all children?
    Will the Board adopt a more open culture? Will the Administration?
    What questions do you care about? Can we as a community agree to disagree and yet still be adult and get along?

    Fighting to win is hard. Engagement isn't a one time thing. To change the status quo will require many of us simultaneously engage, politely, constructively, passionately and patiently for a long time.

  106. 1. The Board has to approve the recommendations of the Superintendent so he is a recommender not a decider. So even if that will be the recommendation of the Superintendent to the Board it is the Board's decision to make.

    Actually, the Superintendent is (appropriately) granted a great deal of authority both by law and by policy. After all, the Superintendent is hired by the Board to be the CEO of the organization.

    Having served on both non-profit and for-profit Boards over the years, I know one of the greatest challenges for a Board is knowing when to exert control and how deeply to get involved. There is no one answer that fits all circumstances. Generally a governing board should set goals and boundaries, and then let the CEO do his/her job.

    But a governing board can't be afraid to step in when the goals aren't being met or boundaries are being crossed. Nor can a governing board fail to recognize when the goals or boundaries need to be changed, often due to a change in the external environment, and consequently fail to take timely and appropriate action (ie a good decision made late is the same thing as a bad decision)

    I think that may be where are schools are right now. The recipe that has worked for many years isn't going to work so well any more. We have to figure what our priorities are in a world where funding can't keep up with the expectations of all the stakeholders (another way of saying that our current trajectory is unsustainable, the view of the Audit & Accountability Committee).

    The public can sit around and wait until the next Board election or the next levy vote (both of which will likely be on the November ballot with the outcome not having effect until Jan 2012), or they can make their wishes known to the Board now by writing emails and speaking at Board meetings.

    My voice alone isn't enough.

  107. Fighting to win is hard. Engagement isn't a one time thing. To change the status quo will require many of us simultaneously engage, politely, constructively, passionately and patiently for a long time.


  108. Some of us have been involved - at the district level, on BOE committees, and see the lack of commitment to the real issue - the level of expenditure growth that controls about 88 - 90% of the expenses - personnel expense. Instead, the board cuts some hundreds of thousands of dollars in sports programs. Really? Will those programs get reinstated with the passage of the levy? If yes, then what was done to control long term spending?

    Also, I would be interested to know what drives the electorate's voting decision - to vote yes or no. With the lack of community involvement in school finances, I cannot believe it's solely the financial picture. I maintain, to some degree at least, that parents' day-to-day experiences with the schools - the teachers, the administrators, the principals, the athletic directors, the coaches and directors (band, choir, theatre, for example) play a big factor in the decision - at least on the 'No' side. This is where I believe some critical no votes are determined. If I'm correct (or even close), the next levy doesn't have much of a chance in one particular HS attendance area!!

  109. When I say folks need to get involved, I'm really talking about getting involved in the governance of our school district.

    Clearly thousands of parents and other community volunteers are involved in all kinds of activities in our schools. I was at Darby today to hear presentations from graduating seniors who had been involved in the mentorship program (as in being mentored). It's wonderful that we have professionals in our community willing to devote time in this way.

    I've suggested many times over the years that, because of the lack of understanding of the fiscal dimension of our school district, the vast majority of folks make their voting decision based on emotional factors.

    I'd have to think that the biggest driver for 'yes' votes is having kids in the school district, and wanting to make sure it doesn't blow up - at least not until they graduate.

    Then you get a set of 'yes' voters who will vote 'yes' every time, no matter what. They never question the need for more money, and simply assume that if the Board asks for more money, it must be needed.

    Likewise, you get folks who vote 'no' every time, regardless of the circumstances. These could be seniors for whom the ever-growing property tax burden is problematic. Others are convinced that vast amounts of money is wasted, based on observations like 'I always see those big school buses in the afternoon with 10 kids in them.' My response to that complaint is that if you follow them a little while further, they'll be completely empty. We don't store the kids on school buses, we take them home.

    Each element of the rich set of programs and services offered by our district has its own constituency, and any changes bring out the most vocal of them.

    This might be an opportunity to expand the conversation beyond the "I wants" to "What can we afford?" Indeed the five of us on the Board were elected because we said we were willing to make those tough decisions.

    But I'd sure like to hear some ideas first. There are some very smart folks in our community, and I'd prefer to draw on that intelligence and wisdom to help craft the best solution we can. The proposal is one approach.

  110. Paul

    You presented your proposal to the to the Board at the May 9th Board Meeting with no discussion. Have you gotten any feedback?

    You mention a number of constituent organizations and stakeholders participating. Have any of them or representatives of those groups shown a positive reaction?


  111. In these sorts of things committee makeup is key, and this one seems overly weighted towards the "spend-spend-spend" crowd. Only the businessman and the "For the Hilliard Kids" member are likely to be for restraint of spending (with the presumable exception of the one committee with you on it.)

  112. "Some of us have been involved - at the district level, on BOE committees, and see the lack of commitment to the real issue - the level of expenditure growth that controls about 88 - 90% of the expenses - personnel expense. Instead, the board cuts some hundreds of thousands of dollars in sports programs. Really?"

    AMEN! Well-said. All this focus on sports is exactly what the Administration and HEA WANTS us to talk about!

  113. Paul, you said "But I'd sure like to hear some ideas first."

    How are these to start?

    Bring annualized salary and benefits in line with the community - the taxpayers who are essentially paying a good part of the salaries. Teachers, per their contract, are essentially 60% of an FTE (full time equivalent) and pay relatively little for their benefits compared to most in the community. Yet, make, on average, significantly more than the median salary of the citizenry. Paul can you confirm this?

    Get an administration that can/will work WITH the city and mayor. I would like to hear more about the relationship between the senior people (read that as superintendent and mayor - not their minions)on both sides - the school district and the city and how functional the relationship is for the betterment of both. I believe this is part - besides his obvious skills, talents and abilities - of the reason around the excitement of Nathan Painter on city council.

    How about controlling expenses a little better. For example (and it may not be a good one), is it necessary to transport the marching band to every away footbal game? Specifically, when the district agreed to go into an athletic conference where some of the league schools are as far away as 50-60 miles, can some of the trips be cut out? When Darby and Davidson played their first football game at Crew stadium, it was striking that 26 - yes, at least 26 - busses were there. Now I understand Crew stadium is not one of the 50 -60 mile trips, but at $4.00 + per mile to move a bus, it is rather expensive. Moreover, the conference allignment (even the new reallignment taking place after next school year) is ridiculous. Darby and Bradley will be making countless trip to complete with the 3 Westerville schools when there are many schools much closer, geographically.

    With Bradley on line now, and with smaller graduation classes, do we need to continue to have graduations at the Schottenstein Center? Renting that place cannot be inexpensive - times 3!!! It's nice there, but can we afford it?

    Someone mentioned cutting supplemental contracts. I don't personally have an issue with the coaches contracts (although I do believe the disparity from sport to sport is too great), is it necessary to pay $1,200 per season to weight room monitoring? And I believe there are multiples of this per season - although this may be mistaken. Do we need a weather club, for example? And to pay for the 'adviser'?

    Paul, you also say, "Indeed the five of us on the Board were elected because we said we were willing to make those tough decisions."

    Please, then begin to address the real issue in the district's financial picture - the unsustainable growth of the districts expenses. Stop the cutting of the few hundred thousand dollar programs as leverage to get yet another levy passed.

    Having said all of that, thank you for the forum here. I do appreciate you having started it and wanting to hear from the community. Unfortunately, it does not seem to be catching on with your collegues! Thanks Paul.

  114. Paul - had a chance to read your proposal and for the most part, agree with it. The only thing I keep coming back to is the underlying problem now and in the future is the escalating salary and benefits of the school district employees? Maybe I'm missing something? Being in a finance leadership role for a large company, I unfortunately have worked through many large budget challenges, especially over the last several years. Similar to the Hilliard School District, salary and fringe is the overwhelming majority of our administrative spend. That is the area we spend all the time, focus, and decison making. Granted, is very difficult when dealing with peoples livelyhoods and future employment with the company, but the ultimate question always comes down to AFFORDABILITY. The focus has got to be on the major cost drivers. Cutting the office supplies budget in a large company is responsible, but doesn't get you nearly what you need and at times is a wasted effort considering the big picture. To prevent massive layoffs, we have implemented salary freezes, compensation give backs, more shared benefit expense, etc. I try to apply that line of thinking to the situation with the Hilliard School District? I have some questions. Please excuse my lack of knowledge on the following but I am curious: When is the current teacher union contract up? Who negotiates the renewal on behalf of the board (community)? Is it realistic to take a hard line with the union around merit increases, cost sharing on benefit expense including retirement? Has this been tried before? I've been informed that district employees have a vacation/timeoff roll over policy that continues to accrue and can be paid out in the future? Every business I've worked for or dealt with has a use it or loose it annual policy. Does the union understand the future funding situation? Is there a link to the current union contract online somewhere?
    Finally Paul, thank you so much for being the only board member to be engaged and offer information. I have frequently emailed the board members on various issues, and you are the only one that has ever responded, showed an interest, and wanted to work for solutions. Outside of the teachers contract, I think the other board members (excluding you) are the next problem the community needs to address. Thanks for all your time and engagement!!!!!

  115. So to summarize, the Board doesn't respond to you either? hmmmmm

  116. Jerry:

    What I've discovered over the years is most of the arguments that take place regarding school funding and spending are based on rumor, bad information and false assumptions.

    So I came up with this proposed team membership not so much to somehow 'balance the vote' - because these groups aren't charged with making decisions, only recommendations to the Board - as I did to expose more groups of stakeholders to the issues.

    There's just not enough empathy going around to arrive at a sustainable solution. I believe that's what we need to fix first.

    There's no upside to a civil war between the employees of the district and the people of the community. Regardless of who might win such a conflict, the kids always lose. I think that in reality no one wins - everyone loses.

    This conversation we need to have is really a negotiation. Collectively more is desired than we can afford. Fortunately, we can't fill the gap with debt, as do consumers, corporations and our federal government. We can only spend what we have in our collective pockets.

    So that means we'll have to do the hard work to come up with solutions where no one gets everything they want.

  117. Our compensation costs are the product of two things:

    1) The compensation paid to individual employees; and, 2) The number of employees we have.

    Two accelerators happened over the past decade or so:

    1) our student population grew rapidly as new homes were built, so lots of school buildings were built, and lots of young teachers were hired to staff them;

    2) in the 20 years since the Hilliard housing boomed commenced, those teachers who were at the bottom of the pay scale have shifted to the top of the pay scale. Here is a chart which shows the distribution as of January 2010. It's clearly skewed to the high end.

    But I sure that if you look at a similar chart 15 years ago, it would have been skewed to the low end.

    All I'm saying is that this stuff isn't rocket science, but that if you want to get to the truth, which is the only way to right our ship, you have to peel back the onion a couple of layers deeper than must people have bothered to try to understand.

    I make that statement from personal experience. I've lived in this district for more than 30 years, and spend 25 of them blissfully ignorant yet steadfast in my opinions. And I was wrong with most of them.

    Thanks all of your for reading and commenting. Now I'm asking you to engage with your neighbors and bring them into the conversation.

    Democracy is not a spectator sport!

  118. I've been informed that district employees have a vacation/timeoff roll over policy that continues to accrue and can be paid out in the future? Every business I've worked for or dealt with has a use it or loose it annual policy. Does the union understand the future funding situation? Is there a link to the current union contract online somewhere?

    Yes, that's true. Teachers may roll over up to 240 days of sick time, and get a lump sump payout upon retirement equal to their daily salary at the time of retirement times 25% of the number of days they have not used. So for a teacher who retires at the top of the scale and has 240 days accrued, the lump sum payout would be $90,000/184 days x (240 x 25%) = $29,000.

    These kinds of things get negotiated into contracts when the parties are having trouble agreeing on the meaty stuff, like the pay grid. It gives the teachers a benefit, but allows the Board to push the cost off into the future.

    I've posted the full HEA agreement online if you want to examine it. It contains the truth.

    Everything else is hearsay.

  119. When is the current teacher union contract up? Who negotiates the renewal on behalf of the board (community)? Is it realistic to take a hard line with the union around merit increases, cost sharing on benefit expense including retirement?

    We are currently operating on a one year extension of the 2008-2010 agreement. This extension expires 12/31/11.

    Both the teachers and the board use professional negotiators. The teachers are represented by full-time negotiators employed by their state union - the Ohio Education Association. The Board is represented by a private attorney who specialized in negotiations.

    Depends on what you mean by 'hard line.' Are you willing to push things to a strike? That's the ultimate weapon available to the teachers, although this Governor and General Assembly are trying to take that away.

    No one wins that kind of war. It's the result of a failure to empathize and negotiate reasonable. It would permanently diminish our school district, and consequently our home values.

    And again, the kids would lose the most.

  120. Paul - thanks for the reply. Unfortuntely sometimes wars are needed for reality to set in, checks and balances set up, and new leadership to emerge on BOTH sides. Sometimes, communities need to take a couple steps back to go forward. Granted there is a lot of collateral damage in our reference to a war (the Students). However, we can sugar coat this all we want, but the bottom line is that the current revenue projections do not meet the escalting salaries and benefits being imposed by the union. There is no negotitating reasonably with a union. Believe me, I lived the that nightmare for several years. Something has got to give, and the results of the May 3rd election says the tax payer base is fed up! This union and administration has walked all over the board and the community for the last several years. Enough is enough! A war is coming, and we can all turn our heads and deny it, or we can take a hard stand and fight to get our school district back!!!

    By the way - when does McVey's contract expire?

  121. Paul, a well thought out proposal, which unfortunatly I have just read so some of my work for Mondays board meeting just went south.

    It is refreshing for an elected official to do some real homework.

    I have one concern/objection/question on the make up of the board. IT NEEDS MORE EVERYDAY CITIZENS ON THIS PROPOSED COMMITTEE. I would propose adding 5 community members with no affiliation to the schools, PTA, bargaining units, etc. Just a thought.

    Actually I was thinking that maybe a citizen committee be put together since you have had no feedback from your fellow board members ( Still
    the same as of this writing ) et al. As I seem to have way too much time on my hands, I volunteer, or I may just start using your guideline and whomever wants to pony up, lets go for a long ride.

    I am of fervent belief though, that the community needs its schools back. It seems we have negotiated a lot of things we cant speak to, are paying for IE (Carryover payments, and paying a portion of the HEA presidents salary)
    Gosh I thought we are at bare bones at this point SIC LOL>

    Do you have any updates as to who is running besides possibly Justin. We need someone who will make good financial decisions, support the kids and the community, versus allways going along with the program with a never ending
    check book that is spent repeatedly.

    As far as a strike goes, all the more important that A contract is negotiated BEFORE the next levy is passed. We dont have any money to give to extravagant raises, the raises need to be tempered, as well as the medical contribution being adjusted. Not to mention eliminating paying an HEA salary portion, and adjusting the
    carryover and ending sick payments.

    If we pass a levy, at best a federal mediator can come in and spend our money. If it is not there, we stand a better chance of succeeding.
    I believe Oapse would be willing to properly negoatiate. If the HEA wants to go on strike
    (which I understand there has been no movement to do so) then so be it.

    The community has provided an outstanding infrastructure and consistent levy support. Times are a bit challenging, AND THERE are places to cut, besides gifted education.

    Above all, as Paul has begged for way too long now, each community member needs to stand up and provide a united front, give ideas, make suggestions to the board, and take our schools back. Things will get better in the long term, but we need significant adjustments now to get us on a solid base.

    We have way too much, we cant talk about that,
    We have way too much worry about grievances.

    I thought it was about the kids, and not special interest groups interests.

    I am but one voter who says to the board and the district and its bargaining units.

    The community needs its schools back.

  122. I reread your proposal this morning before I asked my questions.

    I understand the dynamic. The fight isn't against others so much as it is against a lack of knowledge.

    As long as information was complete and accurate even those opposed to anything but passing the next levy would be forced in that process to take into account the pace of compensation growth as compared to the economic realities.

    The question is how do you get such a process adopted?

    Realizing that some stakeholders will see such a process as weakening their position. Who in those groups has the potential to strengthen their voice? Is there a way to bind those folks together with a common voice?

  123. Paul,

    I just finished reading the proposal (I didn't even know there was one until yesterday) so please excuse the lack of feedback.

    I think this is a good idea, but I'll echo Rick and say there should be more non-connected people on it.

    However, since it appears this is going nowhere fast, maybe we do need to look at creating a citizen committee outside the scope of the district.

    And yes, we could easily be ignored, but I truly believe that action would simply make it even more difficult to pass any kind of tax increase, so it's an action the district would be taking at its own peril.

    We'll be in touch.

  124. All

    I am new to much of this and don't know many of you. Sometimes when I post I feel a bit like a buttinski, new to the show.

    I think the point of Paul's proposal is that it gets everyone to sit down together and in a shared fashion look at the data and potentially arrive at the same conclusion.

    It sure doesn't appear there's a lot of motivation to have those conversations right now other than the folks that read and post here.

    But I would suggest if a group got together to work through Paul's process you find some who vehemently disagree with you and include them.

    I think the important thing about the process is it helps the community collaboratively arrive at a conclusion rather than arriving there through the scorched Earth approaches other communities have gone through.

    I think doing a study as a group of like minded individuals that arrives at a conclusion you already roughly know won't serve as the agent of change Paul is trying to present.

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

  126. Regarding the proposal:

    My demographic (homeowners whose children are not even school age yet) should have a spot on each team. We are the most concerned (or should be) with the long term success of the district.

    Regarding vacation accruals:

    At 6/30/10, the district was carrying an $11,075,907 liability for compensated abscenses. Thats almost $6500 per full time equivalent.

  127. Well, Douglas, let me officially welcome you to the club. We need some new blood to keep things energized. You can only bang your head against a wall for so long before you need a break.

  128. "The public can sit around and wait until the next Board election or the next levy vote (both of which will likely be on the November ballot with the outcome not having effect until Jan 2012), or they can make their wishes known to the Board now by writing emails and speaking at Board meetings."

    To be blunt: The public HAS made their wishes known time and again. "No." To basically every sort of increase in funds to the schools. Instead of the BOARD canvassing those no voters and finding out WHY folks vote no, the response is that the electorate needs to get involved. If the administration is *actually* interested in public involvement, let them come out into the streets rather than making the people come to them.

    The electorate IS involved. But every 3 or 4 months the schools can try to pass whatever snake-oil they are peddling. This continues until the magic YES of 1 extra vote is received, and then the cycle continues. How about we introduce legislation that says no tax increase gets ratified until it passes in 2 consecutive votes? Think the school's tactic of chip-away would work so well then?

    Repeatedly stating "get involved" is great, until you realize that the majority of the citizenry is involved enough to vote NO. Folks have a LOT of real-life things happening; we elect people to *represent* our wishes. The administration is not elected and their job is to get as much money into the system as they can, *regardless* of the wishes of the majority of the community.

    Much of the frustration in this whole discussion (both in this blog and in the larger picture) is that, time and again, the community states its wishes and is roundly ignored. No means no; it doesn't mean keep trying until you can wheedle out a yes.

  129. "Depends on what you mean by 'hard line.' Are you willing to push things to a strike? That's the ultimate weapon available to the teachers, although this Governor and General Assembly are trying to take that away."

    And that "ultimate weapon" has happened ONCE (1989, Groveport) in central Ohio within the last 23yrs. Just an FYI on this "weapon"!

  130. Doug Davison: I very much agree with you, but the issue is even Paul cant get a response.

    And yes I am glad to see another interested citizen involved ,no matter what their opinions might be.

    I would prefer not having an independent citizen committee, because Doug does make an excellent point. However, I also dont want it stacked with the Happy Happy everything is wonderful group that says more and more money is needed, or we cut stuff that has an impact
    that gets enough blood curdling from the parents
    whose kids participate IE middle school sports.

    The campaign committee, created a thousand volunteers according to information and pulled
    in 6,000 They chose not to go out to everyone
    and that sends a signal that this district, and perhaps some of its board members, bargaining units, dont really care what you think unless you are fully on board with them.

    Despite, pay to play proposal increases, scholarships, business funding, the bottom line remains constant.

    We have a current spending issue. We need to make some adjustments, and yes at some point pass a levy as costs do go up. But we need
    to put some reins on the spending horse, that thinks the community has an open checkbook, and our district seems to allways want one to spend with.

  131. Paul, do you know of any updates on our Remedial rates for our graduates. At one point it was about 25% and went down to like 19%

    Somehow double digit remedial rates dont seem to come up very often. I asked this question about a year ago at a board meeting, and ........... well I allways liked the song Silence is Golden

    Noticed that that the Clowns of the Alladin Shrine Temple were going to be at the statehouse
    raising money for children. I thought for sure there were allready enough clowns at the statehouse. One could also make comparisons ...locally.. but lets not go there today.

  132. The agenda has been published. Item G1 is "Pay to Participate Discussion."

  133. I hope people show up to hear it...

  134. I hope that even those who are against Pay to Participate or disagree that sports is the right topic to be focused on at the moment attend.

    I wish I could predict how many will come. We have some commitments mostly from the Heritage/Darby community.

    If anyone has ties into the Weaver/Davidson and Memorial/Bradley parents and boosters please email me at ddavidson@jacadis.com. Or simply get an email out suggesting they attend the meeting.

    I completely realize that "discussion" is a far cry from a commitment to implement Pay to Participate.

    But my hope is that this topic will create an influx of previously uninvolved parents into the mix.

    Outside of the people that were at the May 7th Board meeting and that read this blog I would venture to guess that no one in the community even realizes that Paul has presented a proposal to create a community conversation.

    If you talk to people about Paul's proposal or the $38M cliff at the end of the 5-year plan their eyes glaze over. Or they get emotional and argue about how they feel.

    Talk to them about it in the context of what they care about and I think you'll educate and activate people to the bigger issues.

    I hope Monday night can be a constructive discussion of Pay to Participate and a chance to introduce previously unaware parents to the deeper issues within our schools.

  135. Paul, will you have an opportunity to speak to your Community Involvement in Planning proposal again on Monday?

  136. I'll certainly be bringing it up again.

  137. Lloyd asked way back when the Superintendent's contract expires. It's Dec 31, 2013.

  138. (Paul - thank you for the follow up on the Supers contract.)

    Unfortunately was unavailable to attend the board meeting last night. The minutes from the meeting are not yet posted. Could someone please post a summary or recap of the meeting? Specifically interested in Paul's Community Involvement proposal and the Pay to Play. Thanks!!!!

  139. I was unable to attend the meeting last night. How did the discussion go regarding pay to play?

  140. Unfortunately was unavailable to attend the board meeting last night. The minutes from the meeting are not yet posted.It is the practice of this Board to not post the meeting minutes until they have been approved at the following meeting. I've seen other Board post drafts of the meeting minutes soon after the meeting, and sometimes even audio recordings. I'd like to see us do that - and maybe some day even live stream the meetings.

    There were many speakers on the subject of P2P, and the members of the Board expressed their feelings as well. The next step seems to be the formation of a community group to discuss the issue and offer recommendations to the Board.

  141. By your calculations, the pay to play seems very reasonable. One way to address the economical disadvantage is to do a sliding scale based on household income.
    Also, I think that relying on the “club” sports truly create disparities in a community. Not only are the club sports considerably more expensive, but you also have to consider that not every child if they tryout will make a club team. It is very stressful for 13 and 14 years to have to try-out and go through the process of being cut for every sport they want to play or try. Also, if they end up making the team they are not necessary coached by a professional who is vested in their emotional and developmental success. At least with middle school sports there are a variety of sports to try, and some are no cut, so everyone at least has a chance to be part of the team, they are not discarded from the beginning. In addition it makes your community stronger, and helps children develop a sense of pride for their school and feel like they are part of something. Those experiences cannot be replace.
    So, I was happy to see the school board take action to work through this. I think that this is a scenario that parents can work with the school to solve and that for the sake of the kids we put aside our individual philosophy, and come up with a solution. These kids only experience middle school once. In addition, I think it shows good faith by the board, because I think the board needs to remember that they are elected and represent the community, and the community is behind coming up with a solution to keep middle school sports, even if includes pay to play. In addition, we parents were the ones out there that supported the levy, called our friends and neighbors, and passed out literature among other things. We volunteered when there was a need, now we asking for the board to support us and help make it possible for our children to participate in school sports.

  142. Unfortunately, the resources available to the school district are defined by the minority who show up at the polls (14,490 in this election), not "the community" of 56,926 registered voters.

    If the people of the community want to "take back our schools" as was stated at the last Coffee with the Board, they need to participate in the governance process.

    Elections matter; votes count.

  143. Paul, you are correct, and more people need to become involved and stand up for what they believe in, and have some solutions, painful as they may be, instead of just no new taxes at all which down the road is just not in the cards.

    I still think we need a citizen committee to look at the entire program and detail, "what the community thinks"

  144. "Elections matter, votes count" Sure they do. But revenue is just one side of the equation. Voting yes on a levy right now is giving the schools carte blanche to overspend.

  145. Yeah, but the thing is that most people are showing up to this party after the horse has already escaped the barn.

    By that I mean that we are already in a deficit spending mode, funded partly by one-time Federal stimulus money and partly by drawing down our cash reserves.

    We would have to cut back our spending to less than the 2009 levels to balance the budget at our projected revenue for the next few years, given the cuts in state funding. That's about $5 million/yr more than the cuts that have already been made with the levy defeat.

    Is that what you're advocating? Just trying to understand your position.

  146. Oh, and spending authority comes, in part, from the Five Year Forecast. That's the reason I voted against accepting the latest version, presented to the Board last week.

    I too believe we need to slow down the rate of spending growth. But as I said, we're already deficit spending, so the one option we don't have is to freeze spending and not pass a levy.

    We either need to pass a levy and simultaneously reign in the rate of spending growth, or not pass a levy and make some big and likely painful cuts.

    By the way, this is substantially the same thing I said in 2008 when a levy was a last on the ballot. That's because the issues are substantially the same - spending going up faster than revenue.

    And once again we let ourselves get into a deficit spending mode, voted down the levy to fund the deficit, and then started whining when cuts had to be made.

    How about we get out in front of this thing this time around? Otherwise we'll do one more lap around this game board in 2013...

  147. so is it true?sports are saved?

  148. I heard through the middle schools that "FALL" sports are back on. There was no information around winter and spring? I'm not sure what has changed? Someone at work told me that Olentangy just received some additional funding from the State that was initally cut. Wonder if that what happened in Hilliard? Regardless, the district still has a spending issue that must be addressed. A November levy is not the answer. Taking a hard line with the union is the answer. Look for winter and spring sports being held in the balance of November's levy outcome.

  149. Paul - per your posting May 31, 2011 5:41pm - you said "And once again we let ourselves get into a deficit spending mode, voted down the levy to fund the deficit, and then started whining when cuts had to be made". Was wondering who you define the "WE" as in that sentence? (I'm hoping your referring to the school board, teachers union, and administration). Where the heck was / is Brian Wilson in all this? As a private sector finance leader, if I took the approach of "letting my company move into a deficit spending mode", I would be fired immediately (along with my staff)!!!! It's time this district starts being held accountable and run like a business. This whole district administrative office, teachers union, and school board needs an ENEMA! Clean everyone out and bring new people in. By the way, the word on the street is that the November '11 levy is going to get hammered worse than the May one.

  150. As I understand it based on an email sent to parents:

    Fall middle school sports are back on the schedule. Details are to be coming out on Monday, June 6th with information coming home with the kids on Friday (tomorrow).

    This is from an email we received from the Athletic Coordinator at our middle school.

    In the email he asked that we hold the questions because he had no more information than what he shared.

    So I think we all have to stay tuned for details.

    Douglas Davidson

  151. Lloyd:

    WE = everyone in the whole school community. This fiscal situation isn't a recent phenomenon - the same scene gets repeated every few years.

    Many (most?) parents who never gave the district's fiscal operations a thought while their kids were in 3rd grade are suddenly outraged when their so-to-be 7th grader is going to be denied the opportunity to play sports.

    It's come to be viewed as normal for a school district to pass a levy that generates revenue in excess of current spending, and in doing so build up a cash reserve. Then when the rate of spending growth causes expenses to exceed revenue, the cash balance starts being drawn back down.

    Some district will put the next levy on the ballot before the cash situation becomes a problem. That gives them some wiggle room to deal with things like material cutbacks in State funding without cutting programming.

    Other districts wait until the last minute, and put themselves in a situation where it's either pass the levy or programming gets cut. That's us.

    My core mission since the creation of this blog in 2006 has been to try to inform and engage the community in a regular dialog about the fiscal strategy for our school district. It matters much less to me whether you agree with my opinions than it does that the outcome of the process is a workable strategy supported by the community.

  152. This is the message sent to parents from the District regarding Fall Sports and the Board's plans.

    Hilliard City Schools Creates Community Committee to Explore Athletic Pay-to-participate Fees – Delays Elimination of Middle School Sports and Reinstates Elementary Gifted Programs

    The Hilliard City Schools Board of Education today announced its intention to form a community committee – called the Hilliard Athletics Sustainability Committee — to study the challenges and benefits to a full pay-to-participate program for athletics.

    The committee’s charge is to provide a long-term sustainability study of the district’s entire sports program (grades seven through 12).

    On Monday, June 6, the Board of Education is expected to take action during a special board meeting that will delay the elimination of middle school sports for the fall season. This move will allow the committee to look into the long-term options associated with a full pay-to-participate program.

    “The severity of our financial crisis has not ended,” stated Doug Maggied, Hilliard board president. “If we want to continue offering athletic opportunities for all students for the long-term we must begin now with taking a good look at what the future holds in an environment of declining funding.”

    The committee will include approximately 30 community members and two board of education members. Tim Hamilton, assistant superintendent, will facilitate the committee work and meetings. Support from the district’s coaching and administrative staff will be provided.

    Committee members will meet over the summer months to review information, ask pertinent questions and report their findings to the board in August. Final decisions regarding the committee’s research will be determined by the administration and board.

    Community members interested in participating on this committee are asked to fill out the online application and submit it by Friday, June
    10 at 5 p.m. Those interested may fill out the online application or complete a paper application and mail it to Hilliard City Schools,
    Attn: Karen Wright, 2140 Atlas Street, Columbus, Ohio 43228; email it to karen_wright@hboe.org or fax it to (614) 771-6965.

    Tentative contract extensions with both of the district’s employee associations provided the flexibility to offer the current participation fee structure option to middle school athletes for the fall season. In addition, the board is also expected to reinstate the elementary gifted program. The contract extensions are expected to save the district more than $9.6 million over the next three fiscal years and will provide some assistance with the district’s overall financial crisis. However, it will not fix the problem of sharply declining revenue. During the June 6 meeting, board members will engage in conversation about the district’s long-term financial challenges. More information related to the contract extensions and the special board meeting can be found on the district’s website at www.hilliardschool.org.

  153. One person's "sharply declining revenues" is another person's "spending issue that must be addressed."

    The only way we will find a solid foundation to move forward is if we stop with the camps of like thinkers agreeing with each other and collectively support a community conversation like Paul has proposed.

  154. Correction: The Web site referred to in the email to parents should be www.hilliardschools.org. The email I cut and pasted had a typo in it.