Friday, June 3, 2011

Thank You Teachers and Support Staff

At a special School Board Meeting scheduled for 5pm on Monday June 6, 2011 at the Central Office Annex, the Board will be voting on a resolution to accept tentative agreements with both the Hilliard Education Association (HEA) and Local #310 of the Ohio Association of Public School Employees (OAPSE), which are the two unions representing the employees of our school district.

The Administration has distributed a number of communications pieces to let folks know what the agreements looks like. Suffice it to say that the compensation terms of these agreements are much different than those which have been signed over the past decade, reflecting the level of investment our team of teachers and support staff are willing to make in our school district during these challenging economic times. Using the chart format you have seen many times before, the effect of these new contracts looks like this:

Click to enlarge

Barring some unforeseen complication, I'll be voting in favor of accepting these agreements on behalf of our community. Here are links to the new agreements:  HEA and OAPSE.

Ohio law prohibits a school district from signing a multi-year agreement which spans years in which the Five Year Forecast shows a cash deficit. Consequently, a new Five Year Forecast has been prepared by Treasurer Brian Wilson, and it looks substantially the same as the Five Year Forecast approved by the School Board at our last meeting, except with some large, unspecified spending cuts shown in FY13-FY14.

Barring unforeseen complications, I'll be voting in favor of accepting this Five Year Forecast.

So, it would be fair for you to ask why - less than two weeks ago - I voted against accepting the Five Year Forecast presented then, but intend to vote in favor of this version of the Forecast.

It's for practical reasons. In order to sign the new union agreements, we need to play games with the Five Year Forecast.

Except it's not a game. The numbers that get loaded into the Five Year Forecast as the unspecified spending cuts are real. They're just not specific - that is, they won't specify exactly what would be cut to balance the budget. But they represent the size of the gap between funding and spending in future years, and we'll have to close that gap somehow.

Nor does this new Forecast reflect any new revenue which might result from the passage of a levy. Again, Ohio law prohibits showing projections for future local tax revenue that hasn't yet been passed by the voters of our community.

Both of those things still need to be discussed: how much more money we're willing to invest in our school district over the next several years, and what programs and services we wish to offer. I hope you are willing to engage in the dialog.

The teachers and support staff took a crucial step in the process, and again I thank them for it.

Now it's the community's turn.


  1. My concern is this Paul, I am a teacher in the district. We were not told that our pay freeze would go to fund middle school sports. We were basically lied to because we were told that we needed to help the district save money. How is bringing back middle school sports saving money. I have no problem helping out educational programs like gifted education. But this sneaky tactic of not telling the real reasons for the boards contract proposal is sickening. You and the and the board told the community that if the levy did not pass, middle school sports was eliminated. How can you go back on your word. I can guarantee that a lot of the teachers in the district feel the same way. We have been deceived and lied to by both the BOE, CO and our own HEA reps. Explain to me why it has come to this.

  2. Thanks to the Teachers and Support Staff for taking a much needed first step. I haven't delved into the details, but it looks like there are many concessions people on this forum have been calling for, and it appears that it will make a material difference in our future costs.

    While this doesn't solve all of our problems, it is very much a requirement to start the process.

  3. There will, I'm sure, be a discussion at the School Board meeting this coming Monday. I hope that discussion answers your questions and concerns.

    It's not my place to speak for the whole Board, but my personal viewpoint is that since we spend nearly 90% of our budget on comp and benefits, when a program or service is cut, it means jobs get cut. And when some programs/services can be restored, it likewise means some jobs can be restored.

    It seems like an opportunity to be able to use some of the money we won't have to allocate to comp/benefits increases to save some programming for the kids, some jobs for employees, and some taxes for the people and businesses of the district. That feels like a reasonable outcome to me.

    We're not out of the woods yet - as I said in the article, there is still a substantial projected deficit to deal with. That can't be closed with new taxes alone. We'll have to take a hard look at the rate the forecast has expenses growing as well. And that means another look at programming and services.

    I'm sorry that this situation is developing this way. I'm hoping we'll all come to agree that it is a misunderstanding, and that there was no intention to deceive.

  4. This was not a misunderstanding. Misunderstandings occur when one party states a reason for something and another party does not get a clear picture of the explanation. No where in the board proposal for teachers did it state that the pay freeze would allow middle school sports to comeback. It was sold to us to help the district save money. Misunderstandings are not the same as one side trying to deceive the other side. How can the teachers and support staff trust anything that the Board of Education or Central Office has to say since they can go back on whatever they want? Middle School ADs were called prior to the HEA meeting and told to prepare the Fall sports schedule. How is this a misunderstanding? The board and CO knew all along they were going to bring it back and wanted the teachers to pay for it. I am all for shared sacrifice as long as it is spelled out clearly to all involved. This was definitely not the case.

  5. I greatly appreciate the Hilliard teachers and support staff for showing an understanding of our district financial difficulties.

    But to say they have been deceived into making sacrifices for the sake of middle school sports shows a misundertanding of the politics of all of this. The cost of middle school sports could NEVER have had much of an impact on future financial stability. I believe it was yanked away in order to get to the emotion of voters and to get them to approve the last levy.

    As Paul has mentioned, even this recent level of budget control, the $9.6 million, is not enough to offset projected deficits. Paul mentions that the next 5 year forecast includes large unspecified cuts in FY 13-14

    Middle school sports is not now, and has never really been the issue. It's all about the emotion of where to spend the money and how to get more. Teachers were not deceived. They weren't paying attention.

  6. I am also a teacher, and I also feel deceived by this move. The community made a decision: they elected to keep more of their money and lose MS sports, gifted education, and fifth grade strings. As a result, we teachers made a decision: we would take less money to help fund the programs that remained. This reversal by CO, BOE and HEA is beyond insulting. The next time the District comes to me asking for money to fund the promotion of a levy, I will be just as distrustful as every Hilliard voter who's threatened with program cuts.

    This wasn't a misunderstanding. It was an intentional lie.

  7. Old Hilliard, you are the one not paying attention. Teachers have had pay freezes in the past to help out the district. They are taking one now and will not have a pay raise for 5 years (counting the last two years). They will also be paying more for health insurance. So in affect, it is a pay cut. How about you talk about teh real problem. State funding for education has been ruled unconstitutional over and over again. But the public likes to blame the teachers for this mess. I would love to come to your job and tell you that you are getting paid too much and take a pay cut even though I have no knowledge of the amount of hard work you have put into your job, the amount of schooling you have taken, etc. education is the only profession where everyone outside the profession thinks they are the experts and know what is best. You would never question a doctor like you do teachers. It is pathetic. So please don't tell me teachers have not been paying attention, because they have. I will state it again, no where in the new contract proposal did it state that we would bring back any program. Our pay freeze was meant to help the district save money. Not spend more of it.

  8. State funding for education has been ruled unconstitutional over and over again.

    This is one of the most misunderstood and misquoted components of public education in Ohio.

    The Supreme Court rulings in DeRolph v. State of Ohio were always about the school districts with low property values. Specifically, they said that the amount of state funding granted to the districts with low property values was insufficient, causing the property owners in those districts to tax themselves excessively in order to fund their schools sufficiently to meet the Constitutional standard of a "thorough and efficient" education.

    DeRolph was never about affluent districts like Hilliard, and no Supreme Court is going to determine that our district is underfunded. The evidence is just the opposite - that in order to send more and more funding to urban and rural districts, the suburban districts are going to see diminishing funding from the State.

  9. In 2002, the base pay for a teacher with a Bachelor's degree and no experience was $29,332. If a teacher were hired that year at that pay rate, and had not received any increases due to additional education, the pay for each year would have been:

    2002: $29,332
    2003: $31,695
    2004: $34,248
    2005: $36,918
    2006: $39,853
    2007: $43,022
    2008: $46,151
    2009: $49,509
    2010: $53,110

    This is an average annual increase of 7.7%.

    During the same period, the school portion of the property taxes in our school district has increased from $787 to $1,248 per $100,000 in today's value, an annual rate of increase of 5.9%.

    I suspect that personal income in our community has not grown at that rate, which means the people of our community have been contributing an increasing percentage of their disposable income to fund the growth in compensation and benefits for the school district's employee team.

  10. I appreciate that both unions and their members recognize the issues that the district is facing and have chosen to accept these terms. Many of the families in our district have had to accept similar cuts, freezes, and benefit alterations to help their private employers and keep their jobs as well so we understand that it is difficult to accept.

    I think a reminder is needed here that Middle School Sports have only been reinstated for the Fall semester along with the formation of a committee to study the sustainability of the entire sports program. So a very, very small portion of the savings from the new contracts is being used for the short term to maintain an existing program while changes are researched. Could it be the case that the ADs were called prior to the HEA meeting because the board and administration was considering this temporary reinstatement before the contracts were approved?

    The gifted programs that are being reinstated appear to be K-5 and not the middle school courses that were cut. As nothing was cut at the high school level after the levy failed, it seems fair that the students that took the biggest hit should get a little something back. Middle School is still losing gifted classes and Elementary is still losing bands and strings.

    It appears that the amended state budget is going to require districts to provide some gifted services so forecasting this into the 5-year plan is sensible. By reinstating it now, our current wonderful professionals and plans can be kept in place.

  11. To Anonymous at 1:52. First of all, don't try to criticize me for things I NEVER SAID. I didn't mention pay freezes or cuts. I said I APPRECIATED your understanding of the fiscal troubles. I just wanted to point out the ridiculousness of anyone thinking middle school sports was the cause OR answer to the problem.

    I understand that you are essentially taking a pay cut. Welcome to the rest of the world. How about the "pay cut" I took from stagnant wages, with increased property taxes, for you?? Paul
    subsequently listed the salary progression for a first year teacher in 2002, to where that person is in 2010. I'm not quite sure how many teachers will have seen a true, total freeze for a total of 5 years.

    I know and appreciate you are angry and upset. But taxpayers didn't cause the current scenario, and there's a limit to what we can do to solve it. Again, it's all about the emotion of how to spend the money, and where does more come from...

  12. Here's a letter sent to the Board members from a parent. This parent recognizes the contribution the teachers and staff made toward finding a compromise in a tough situation, and I'm sure will be a positive force toward getting the future levies passed. That's what will enable future growth in compensation, not anger.

    Dear Mr. Lambert, Mr. Maggied, Ms. Whiting, Mr. Lundregan, & Mr. Teater:

    I just wanted to take a little time to thank you for your decision to reconsider bringing back Middle School sports for this fall and the elementary gifted program. I have read the Hilliard news release and realize many concessions were made by many people, more revenue is needed and a committee will evaluate the Hilliard City school sports program amongst other items mentioned. I have e-mailed all of you several times with my dismay over the cuts and truly appreciate how you have listened to the 'voices' and are doing what you can for the students of this district. I am thankful that you gave the community an opportunity to voice their opinions at such things as the 'Coffee with the Board' and the school meeting at Tharp as well as the union making some concessions. All of these things have gone a long way in the perception of how our school district can work together.

    Again, thank you for your dedication to the students in Hilliard.

    Thank you

  13. I echo the comments above thanking the bargaining units adjustments. It is unfortunate that many have suffered through the economic meltdown, foreclosures, loss of jobs, pay cuts, benefit reduction. I very much appreciate this being done. Thank you

    But this communication issue is something that never seems to go away. I am concerned that teachers feel they did not get the whole story, and I understand the above posters concerns and

    This communication piece is of concern down the road. Now you have some very interested parties speaking to it. The district levy committee
    chose to rally around limited voters with the campaign. Like it or not it creates questions
    and whether any one likes it or not, it makes it tougher to get votes at critical times.
    Both Paul and I Have pointed out the 40 40 20 principle. 40% usually vote yes or no and the battle is for the next 20% So you need 10.1 % of the undecided, independent, or hope you dont lose any of the positive 40%

    Paul, ? not sure if you can discuss this but this question needs an answer. Why did UA schools, coaches know May 23rd that the middle school sports here were being left intact. So a non taxpaying UA residents, and staff know more about this stuff than we do,

    The trust factor was mentioned in above posts and I have spoken to it before myself.

    I also hope that the sports committee will include all segments of the community. If not then it will be the same old same old one sided
    stuff. Also I still think a citizen committee
    needs to take up as part of our financial
    sustainability, a study on our total programming as Paul suggested.

    Thanks again to the bargaining units, sorry that even something this simple is filled with communication challenges. I hope we also do not forget that we still have major financial challenges ahead of us, and appropriate changes must be made along with an investment again by the community.

    On a side note, know this is a challenge on
    consequences of speaking up, glad that is over for my children, but perhaps some of our teachers like the above could speak at the board meeting or otherwise communicate a consensus of this communication on this new contract. This seems all to secretive, and
    guess what if UA residents and staff know what is going on here, then why cant I and others get straight answers instead of we cannot talk about it.

    And with this scenario coming to the positive side, I still want the board, district and levy committee to commit to no more of this bare bones education garbage, treating the community like a bunch of little kids.

    Lots of work to do to pass another levy and with this type of insulting garbage, playing fast and loose with the actuality, we cannot pass more funding because the community has basically become tired of the worthless communication efforts.

  14. Old Hilliard-

    You fail to understand the deception that the Board and Central Office posed to the Teaching staff. It was made clear to us many times that once programs were cut, they would not be coming back. The public spoke and said cut the programs. What do you not understand by that. The teaching and support staff agreed to an additional pay freeze for another 3 years in addition to the one they have been on for almost 2 years now. No where in the "conversation" from the board did they say by us taking a pay freeze, they would bring back the programs. it was told to us that we needed to help the district save money so that they would not have to go back to the public with an even bigger levy. The unions overwhelming agreed to it to help the district. Then we find out sports were going to come back without pay-to-play. it would be funded by our pay freeze. We bent over backwards to help the levy and when it did not pass, we accepted the public's decision. Why is it the Board won't do the same. And please do not tell me about the real world taking pay freezes. We get it. That is why we have agreed to freezes and paying more in healthcare. Companies are doing better now. Wages for most are back up. You probably started out with a higher salary than a teacher and have been making more than them. You seem to be the one out of touch. You didn't hear teachers complaining when things were really good in the 90's and early 2000s. You made more and that was fine.

  15. To Anonymous at 10:53 last night: As an HEA rep, I can tell you that we were just as shocked as you were when the announcement was made. I assure you we had NO idea it was coming. Obviously some people knew (ADs, it sounds like, and perhaps administration), but we certainly did not. And that really is the problem; it feels like a breach of good faith. OAPSE members found out before they voted, but we were not informed before we cast our ballots. Unfortunately, that has seriously compromised trust. Let me say that knowing the plan in advance would NOT have changed my vote, for various reasons. But to have it revealed less than 48 hours after our results were tallied feels like the plan was kept deliberately from us. And while we have watched colleagues pack up their rooms for good, and leave a job they love in tears, it is hard to understand why more teachers' jobs are not being saved -- jobs connected to kids' academic needs -- along with middle school sports. I hope the rationale will be explained clearly to us at some point, by someone. So far the district communication I have seen on the matter feels disingenuous and condescending. I agree, Paul, that we must let go of the anger if we are going to move forward, but I wonder how you would feel in our situation? So while it is nice to receive thanks and acknowledgment for our sacrifice, I guess I also believe an apology is in order for the way this situation was handled by those in command.

  16. I would feel similarly to you - that pertinent information was not disclosed prior to my decision.

    I'll also observe that the communications process links the public to the Board, the Board to the Administration, the Administration to the HEA leadership, and the HEA leadership to the HEA members. Obviously there was one or more failures in that chain.

    The reason I started this blog six years ago, and ran for the Board two years ago, was to demand transparency and foster dialog. I do not and cannot expect that I win every (any?) debate, but I demand that the debate take place, in public.

    There is obviously still work to do on that front.

  17. To anonymous at 7:02 on 06/04. I apologize. I made a false assumption about what you "should" have known prior to your contract vote. Obviously, you do seem to have been deceived about what the outcome of your vote would be. Again, I am sorry for my assumption.

    But please don't you do the same. You have NO knowledge of my financial situation. Broad generalities such as "companies are doing better now" and "wages are back up" is not true for many, including for me and my husband. We work hard, have bachelors and graduate degrees and have NEVER seen the income escalation that Hilliard teachers have.

    My point still is how much less of a freeze would elimination of middle school sports alone have allowed for?? Paul does still talk of future cuts that need to be made, even with this freeze.

    Sorry you feel you were lied to. Sorry I didn't understand. But nothing you can say can now twist your financial situation to now be worse than mine.

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

  19. I deleted the prior comment because it contained a criticism directed at an individual. However, this is what it said, less that point:

    This administration is full of deceptive "marketing". Now it has happened to the teachers and support staff. Granted, I think the vote would have been the same regardless, but the point is that this administration is shady, by my standards, across the board. I understand we don't need to know every detail of the day-to-day stuff...deleted

    And yes, it is very true that Dublin and UA were contacted a month ago to schedule middle school games in the fall. This is not speculation, but fact directly from the AD at both schools. So, the leadership KNEW what they were doing when they deceived the unions. Again, I'm not a teacher and I truly believe the vote outcome would have been the same, but the distrust with CO is a growing problem and I fear they are causing more harm than good. Fom where I sit, everyone is coming to the table for fair and honest communication except for one component... Central Office. Changes may be needed at the top if we are going to every have the type of transparency that we seek and need.

  20. I am also a Hilliard teacher. I have been a part of this district for almost 15 years. I love my job and am usually proud to be a part of this district, but I am sickened by the deceit that has occurred in the past few days. I feel betrayed. To have the people in power know all along what the pay freeze money would be used for and deliberately not informing HEA leadership and teachers is unconscionable. Let me be very clear: There was no misunderstanding or miscommunication. There was intentional withholding of information (I would call it lies by glaring omissions) and to call it anything else adds further insult to our intelligence.
    Trust, once lost, is very hard to rebuild. It will be a long time before I can believe anything from leadership. Treat me like an adult. Inform me with facts. I still would have voted yes, but shame on everyone involved for allowing it to happen as it did. We all deserve better.

  21. The part of my post that Paul deleted, basically named a specific name. ok, guess we can't do that. But perhaps I can say it another way....

    CO leadership has proven time and again that they leverage diseption to get there way. In some cases they are just flat wrong in what they say! Not sure which is worse: Purposeful deceit or incompetence. But off the top of my head, I count the following "innacuracies" in CO communications to voters, teachers, and the board. Let me know if I've missed anything...

    1) If 2008 levy fails no use of school property will be available to public (FAIL, Paul caught them on this)

    2) Step increases are legally required (FAIL again, Paul also caught them on this and caused them to clarify the statement)

    3) All teachers were working to contract and therefore all after school programs and tutoring were cancelled (FAIL, some were but not all... too quick to put bad press out there)

    4) Unions were deceived that they were actually saving money to increase span of levies and decrese rate of growth (Not yet proven, but certainly evidence indicates this was another lie)

    5) Optimist, hGsa, bo scouts, etc., don't pay for use of space. (FAIL - They most certainly do. Ask any of those organizations if they pay for custodial time or use of facilities. Any non-pofit group has to show you their financial report upon request, it will be easy to find. In fact, I have them and am more than happy to scan and send to Paul). Optimist alone pays close to $10K for use of gyms, not to mention the amount of money they poor into facilities. Same for hGsa and HBA.

    Those are just 5 things I thought of in the span of writing this. I'm sure there are many more if I really thought about it and I'm sure each of you that are initimate with the district or related organizations will have more.

    What's the common denominator in all of this? District board-appointed leadership. Since I can't say the name, I won't. But there are only 2 board-appointed leaders on staff in Hilliard. Do the math.

  22. Joe: Thanks for the rewrite. I'm trying to ensure that comments on this blog don't head down the same kind of trail of lunacy one sees on the Dispatch comment board.

    On the step increases: ORC 3317.14 says "Any school district board of education...shall annually adopt a teachers’ salary schedule with provision for increments based upon training and years of service." So it is reasonable to say that step increases are indeed required by law - as I clarified in my original posting on the subject.

    However, the law does not specify in which years teachers must receive step increases or educational increases, or how large they must be. The only requirement is whatever salary grid a school board implements, it must meet the minimum pay requirements specified in ORC 3317.13

    By the way ORC 3317.13 and 3317.14 would be repealed if SB5 as passed is not overturned by referendum.

  23. Yes, reasonable. But the intent of the message was that the district HAD to pay steps and they were not on the table for negotiation. In your article, you outlined that was not the case for Hilliard. Again, my point is that "spin" and deceptive "marketing" is a trend for board-appointed staff. Not sure this is beneficial to the cause open and honest communication. Certainly it clouds the hope of transparency.

  24. Are the ADs members of the HEA and a contributor to the bargaining, communication and voting process?

  25. I believe that reinstating some programs IS a way of saving jobs and decreasing the numbers affected by the Reduction in Force. The teachers for the elementary gifted program had their positions eliminated but they were not fired as they were reassigned to non-gifted elementary classes because of their seniority. Teachers with the lowest seniority had their contracts suspended to open positions for these reassignments. Just look at the agenda of the 05/23 Board Meeting for the list and notice that most of the suspensions in F4A were in K-5 - . So my point is the district's announcement is in line with the 'for the kids' idea and states the reinstatement of some gifted and middle school sports but it also should mean the reinstatement of some jobs.

    And I must add that as pointed out above the voters did speak by not passing the levy but they also spoke to the board and administration at recent meetings and through emails and phone calls to let them know that we did not feel the appropriate cuts had been planned. The message I heard and read again and again was that the taxpayers just can not afford more right now but that some of these programs are essential to the students and other options need to be found. We also felt that we had been fooled by the timing of announcements and the lack of discussion and the speed of voting. Many alternatives were suggested and requested such as higher pay-to-participate fees for sports and more community input was desired. The board was asked over and over to make some uncomfortable requests at the contract negotiations because the numbers show that is where most of the money goes and where most of the unsustainable growth resides. So as Paul pointed out in the chain of communication, the Board is listening to the public and seems to have asked the Administration to reexamine some of the cuts. I do not know what the Administration told the union leaders or what those leaders told the members but it is starting to sound a bit like the old telephone game. What the teachers may have finally heard at the end of the chain did not exactly match what the public was saying at the beginning of the chain.

  26. "What the teachers may have finally heard at the end of the chain did not exactly match what the public was saying at the beginning of the chain."
    Excellent point. I am a bit taken aback by the lashing out of the teachers here who feel that once MS sports was on the "hit list" it should remain there forever. Perhaps the administration was using the same tactics that they use to try to get levies passed? That didn't seem to bother the teachers during the 2008 levy campaign and contract talks - the HEA pushed for a generous contract even though the March 2008 levy failed. Are we now hearing, once again, that it is NOT for the kids? Exactly where do the teachers think the money from their (deeply appreciated!) concessions should go? Do they think they should now be the ones to decide all district spending? I just don't get it.
    As far as the lack of communication, welcome to the taxpayers world. We have been clamoring for many years for more transparency, mostly to no avail. I believe Paul was on record as not agreeing with the list of cuts prior to the levy
    vote, as the state budget had not been announced and his fear was that even with the levy passing, some of those cuts might still need to be made. Now it seems we are going in the opposite direction - again, thanks to the HEA/OAPSE! Should not those groups be proud that they saved something important to the kids, and their parents, instead of feeling "duped" by the administration? As I mentioned in another thread, had that contract been settled before the levy vote, I would have voted yes instead of my first ever no vote; my issue was the lack of attention to the 88% part of the budget, not the actual dollars the levy would cost me. You can now count me in as one of the 20% of voters who needed convincing that things would change.
    And again - Thanks! HEA/OAPSE and the Board/Administration. Many of us appreciate your efforts in this. Remember though, there is still work to be done - not all of the 20% is going to be convinced just yet.

  27. Paul, I think you put up the wrong chart in your article.

  28. Paul, I wish you would put it like this:

    The union will never agree to a contract that is affordable on current revenues. So we have accepted what we consider their best offer. However, their best offer still isn't "legally affordable". So we are going to plug a number into the 5 yr forecast to make things work.

    I believe in 2008 you had blogged about manipulations to the 5 yr forecast just before labor contracts. If this isn't the definition of "game playing", I dont know what it!

  29. The chart is accurate, but I perhaps didn't explain it well enough. This chart isolates the effect of the new labor agreements, and does not represent the Five Year Forecast which the Board will be voting on today, showing the unspecified cuts.

    For me, the key takeaway from this chart is that the new union contracts create a one-time rollback of comp and benefits costs, but that after that, the rate of spending growth for comp & benefits is shown to continue rising at the same rate as it has been over the past decade.

    We have to remember that these new labor agreements set the PRICE of labor. That means that for the duration of the contracts (until 12/31/13), the only way to adjust comp spending is via the NUMBER of teachers and staff on the payroll.

    So we have some difficult issues to deal with between now and August 10th, the deadline for submitting the resolutions necessary to get a levy on the November ballot.

    It's always about the number of people on the payroll, and how much they get paid.

    New money can be spent to expand programming and services or increasing compensation - or a little of both. But remember that we're already deficit spending, so the first dollars of any new money is needed just to preserve programming and jobs.

    If there is no new money - ie no levy is passed in November - then our decisions will have to be in the reverse direction: what programming and services have to be cut - meaning jobs eliminated - to balance the budget.

  30. Yes, we have to game the system to sign the contracts, but the numbers that will be plugged into the Forecast aren't imaginary - they're an indication of the size of the budget gap that remains even after signing these contracts.

    So just like every other government, from school districts to the Federal Govt, we'll have to decide how much of that gap to fill with new revenue (ie an additional levy) and how much with spending cuts. I suspect that it will take a little of both, and there will be people mad about whatever choice is made.

    As a community, we need to grow up and deal with this stuff like reasonable and compassionate adults.

    I guarantee that the folks who will scream the loudest about what gets decided will be those won't participate in the process. Don't wait to be invited - jump in and be part of the solution!

  31. It would appear that some here are part of that 40% that will always vote No on a levy? It seems a bit unreasonable to expect zero growth in compensation for 5 years - or maybe I am missing something? The point has been hammered home - teaching is a labor intensive business. ANY increases in compensation are going to have to come with increases in revenue, unless we want to continually scale back the other 10-12% of the expenses. I don't see how we can have it both ways.

  32. I for one am glad that community input does seem to be a part of the decision making process now. I think the committee to study the sustainability of the sports program is wonderful and I hope leads to some alternatives. It is great that all parts of the district are trying to be proactive instead of needing to be reactive. Thank you to all that have stepped up now!

  33. Let's hope we're seeing the beginning of a true sea change re community engagement, and not just a period of intense activity on specific topics of personal interest. That happens every time a levy fails and a cut list is implemented - the people whose kids are affected by the cut list get very involved.

    For example, How many folks who complained about the middle school sports cuts got fired up in 2008 when Camp Joy was cut from the 6th grade programming?

    The kids affected by that decision are now in high school, so middle school programming issues aren't so important to them any more. And the kids who will be starting middle school sports in the coming year were just going into 3rd grade when the Camp Joy decision was made, so it was off their radar as well (acknowledging that there are often older/younger siblings).

    The decisions before us will define our community. It's not just about what our own kids will experience in the next couple of years - it's about what the school district will look like for the kids yet to come.

    Central Ohio has many communities which once had very good school districts, but are now struggling because they had no long term vision in either their municipal government or their school district, or if they did, they lacked the will to do the hard and selfless work over many years to realize that vision.

    We can do better.

  34. Paul, but at what point does the "plug" become unreasonable?

    If Wilson dropped the personal services from $106M to $50M to get the numbers to work, would you still be voting for this forecast?

    In my opinion, this practice is unprincipled and inconsistent. Therefore any plug amount is unreasonable.

  35. Hillidite,

    I am not just a No voter. But I am certainly not going to agree to any contract that locks in $15M of deficit spending over the next two years.

  36. T ... I can't change the whole game all at once, or alone. The unions agreed to a reasonable agreement, and we need to close the deal.

    We need to get ourselves in a mode of having a long term, viable fiscal plan which is just a part of an overall vision. Programming, services, compensation and levies all have to be talked about as parts of the same whole, rather than in the piecemeal and obscure way things have been done for a long time.

    I heard a person once describe an effort like this as being like trying to change the tires on an Indy car while the car is running 200mph on the track. We can't just pull into the pits and shut down until everything gets fixed. We have to fix what we can when we can.

    And this is an opportunity to catch a breath on compensation growth. But we can't squander the opportunity.

  37. A teacher posting as "anonymous" above stated:

    "The teaching and support staff agreed to an additional pay freeze for another 3 years in addition to the one they have been on for almost 2 years now."

    Has there truly been a complete freeze of step and standard raises for the 2 years in the district? Is it true that with this new contract they will be seeing absolutely no step or standard raises for 5 total calendar years?

  38. The teachers and staff last received base pay increases on January 1, 2010. The teachers will not have another base pay increase before 1/1/2014, after this new agreement expires.

    For the approximately 65% of the teachers who are on the step schedule (15 or fewer years of service), their next increase will be on 2/1/13, and it will be 4.15%. Those teachers will receive another step increase of 4.15% on 9/1/13.

    Teachers in this group receive pay between $38,362 (Bachelor's/0 years) and $83,307 (Masters+/15 years).

    For the 35% of the teachers who have more than 15 years of service and will therefore receive no step increases for the duration of this contract (except for those in their 20th or 23rd years), they will go from 1/1/2010 to 1/1/2014, or 48 months, without a pay increase. They will also be paying 5% more of their total health insurance premium (the district pays 85%, the teachers pay 15%), so their take-home pay will be reduced by about $60/month.

    Teachers in the group are paid between $79,072/yr (Masters/15 yrs) and $90,362/yr (Masters+/23+ years).

  39. And what about Central Office/Administration? What kind of sacrifices are they making? I have yet to read anything about their agreement. I would think, as the LEADERS of the district, they should have been the first to step up to the plate. I know in Dublin, their Super said he would match what the DEA come up with, I believe. So??

  40. A question from a few comments back:

    Are the ADs members of the HEA and a contributor to the bargaining, communication and voting process?

    According to the data I received from the personnel department last year, the three high school ADs are considered 'administrators,' and as such are employed under individual contracts.

    The Asst ADs at both the high school and middle school levels receive supplemental pay, which I interpret to mean that they perform the Asst AD role on a part time basis in addition to their appointments in other roles.

    Is that what you were asking?

  41. Hillerdite said:
    "Excellent point. I am a bit taken aback by the lashing out of the teachers here who feel that once MS sports was on the "hit list" it should remain there forever. Etc, etc..."

    Ok, we certainly NEED to clear up some of the ASSUMPTIONS you continue to make.
    First of all, the teachers are in fact employees of Hilliard City Schools. Many are in fact tax payers of this district as well. I am sorry that some tax payers feel left out as far as communication. But I believe that is their fault for not getting involved with schools, not attending board meetings, not engaging in what is going on. As for the employees, they DESERVE to know what is going on from their superiors. This lack of communication is irresponsible and sends a poor message. Which in turn can cause major issues within a district. It can break down any kind of trust one entity has with another. Which in turn can hurt working conditions.
    Fact of the matter is, this is a POOR decision by the school board AND administration to reinstate what was going to be cut. As much as I disagreed with the decision to cut things as MS sports and the gifted program, you NEVER "threaten" to make cuts, then NOT follow through. What kind of a message does that send to the community/tax payers? It was nothing BUT an idle threat! And do NOT kid yourself, the HEA agreement had NO bearing on reinstatement. That process was already rolling pior to the agreement!!
    Its the principle of the matter that no communication was given to the employees who made great sacrifices in this agreement. And yes, it was FOR the betterment of the district, no question. But it was never relayed during the boards proposal (no negotiations) that MS sports would be reinstated because of the agreement.
    As for your comment about voting yes had an agreement been in place prior to the levy..again, look at the board and administration. They were approached to do so prior to the levy, and told to come back after the levy. No discussion about an extension was aloud, period.
    And please get over the 2008 issue. Again, you have NO idea what went on behind the scenes. I refuse to get into the specific issues. Had a former board president not shown a complete lack of respect, things would not have soured as far as negotiations. Believe me you, it wasn't about the numbers as it was portrayed to be. The public perception of a money hungry union couldn't be further from the truth. You see, HEA chose and continues to not make things public. They don't run to the media. I am sorry to be so blunt, but again, I tire of the teachers/employees of this FINE district, those who work in the trenches, those who go above and beyond, but continue to be beat up by the public. Remember, there are always two sides to every story. I wouldn't go buying into one side too often if I were you. I think the board, as well as central office needs to be looked at MUCH closer as far as what is going on within the district. As ANON mentioned above, I see the two unions have stepped to the plate. What about central office/administration? Shouldn't they have led the way?

  42. Per the AD question, yes. I believe the ADs at the Middle School are also teachers. If they are part of the HEA, do the HEA members feel they were deceived by other HEA members?

  43. To be clear.

    Teachers eligible for step increases had a step and base pay increase in 2009

    teachers had base and step in 2010.

    What about 2011? No base, or step?

    Then in 2012, no base or step

    Then in 2013, those eligible for step will get two Step increases, totalling8.3 %

    in 2014, whatever new contract states

    is this right?

    how is that freezing pay for 5 years? 2 years max. except for those not eligible for step increases

  44. For those eligible, there was indeed both base pay and step increases in both 2009 and 2010. These folks will receive no base pay increase for the duration of this contract (until 12/31/13), but they will receive two step increases in 2013. So these folks will go from 9/2010 to 2/2013 without any increase, just short of 2 1/2 years.

    For those off the step schedule, the will go from 1/1/2010 until at least 1/1/2014, a span of 4 years.

    No sure were the 5 years comes from. Maybe from just counting years (ie 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014)??

  45. It's becoming increasingly clear that we don't have a serious union problem, or a serious board problem, or even a serious community engagement problem, we have a serious Central Office problem. An administration that consistently misleads, spins, misinforms, omits info, dissembles, and otherwise tries to manipulate the board, the teachers, and the public is long overdue for a change. Until that happens, the transparency that so many are clamoring for will not occur.

  46. There's an old adage that a good decision made late is the same thing as a bad decision.

    I think this is a case where a decision intended to be a positive for many has been rendered a negative due to ineffective communications.

    That leaves an open wound that will take a while to heal. I'm truly sorry that this has happened.

    The work we all have to do together to keep this school district at a high level of performance as well as financially solvent is hard enough without blowing off toes in the process....

  47. "Per the AD question, yes. I believe the ADs at the Middle School are also teachers. If they are part of the HEA, do the HEA members feel they were deceived by other HEA members?"

    To simply answer your question, NO. HEA was deceived by CO and the board.

  48. "It's becoming increasingly clear that we don't have a serious union problem, or a serious board problem, or even a serious community engagement problem, we have a serious Central Office problem. An administration that consistently misleads, spins, misinforms, omits info, dissembles, and otherwise tries to manipulate the board, the teachers, and the public is long overdue for a change. Until that happens, the transparency that so many are clamoring for will not occur"

    This I would agree with. I believe many are viewing central office as the good ole boys/girls club. Many have been there for quite sometime. Sometimes, as difficult as it can be, change can help.
    Again I ask, what kind of concessions did CO/administration make?

  49. "Remember, there are always two sides to every story. I wouldn't go buying into one side too often if I were you."
    I would only ask you to realize that I have been following the districts woes for 4 years now, both on this blog and elsewhere. I have attended board meetings, and Coffee's With the Board, and have had letters to the editor of our local papers published, signing my own name. I have done my research, and I try to base my comments on the facts as I have read and heard them, NOT on assumptions. It is not my fault that the HEA desires to keep THEIR side of the story to themselves, as they most certainly did in 2008; given the generosity of the contracts, I do not believe that was in their best interests, at least from a public relations point. I do not wish to get into any kind of personal battle with you, or any teachers. We both agree that communication in this district is lacking - I was merely pointing out that it has been that way for a long, long time; The taxpayers deserve better just as much as the teachers. It is my assertion that MS sports was NOT reinstated on the backs of the teachers, for two reasons: first that it is only fall sports being reinstated and the call has already gone out for a committee to address the issue of Pay to Play further, and second, as an employer myself, you cannot allow the employees to micro manage the spending of our education dollars. I will most certainly agree that this entire mess was handled poorly by the administration and I am pretty much on record that most of them need to be replaced. Paul pointed out at the time of the announced cuts that the list was a mistake, although for other reasons, and I agreed with him; I still do, but again, for even different reasons.
    I might also add that I directly asked Mr. Teater at the Coffee why the existing contracts were allowed to be extended, rather than settled prior to the levy vote. He indicated he could not answer, but he intimated that it was agreed upon by both sides. Labor practices in general determine that silence from what I have learned. I still maintain that it was a huge error on both sides.Perhaps you can shed further light on that - he and Mr Maggied certainly would not. I would like to not have to make "assumptions"

  50. Also - a request that Paul has made many times: it would be nice if each poster here used some type of pseudonym so that all of the "Anonymous" posts can be separated a bit.

  51. How do we even go about getting a more transparent administration? What does it take for the BOE to look into this and see that something needs to be done? NO WAY you are getting public participation on that one. That is inviting trouble for our children and ourselves.

    Should we write the board? Are emails to the board public record where the administration can see who is writing? Seriously, I want to get someone new to start fresh. But lack the knowledge of how to get that process going.

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

  53. Paul,

    I want to repeat again that I sincerely appreciate all of your efforts. And I want to say that as one of your constituents, I trust your judgment.

    For me, it's not about the money. I would rather pay more in taxes and know that the best teachers were being paid the most. Think of what a competitive advantage that would give our distict in terms of attracting the best talent.

    I was holding on to hope that SB5 would stand up in November and that we could get two like-minded board members elected. At that point, I would have gladly voted for a big levy in May 2012 in exchange for throwing away the seniority system.

    Oh well. These things take time. And like you said, you can't do it by yourself.

    It just seemed like this happened in the blink of an eye.

  54. Wow, so many intellectuals, and NO common sense. I cannot believe that 5 board members would not know that you NEVER back out of a "threat" to do something in terms of a levy! That is a no no from "how to be a board member 101" class!! Good luck trying to pass a levy in the near future! You just sent a terrible message to the community!
    Just goes to show that life and running a company/district is not all about the numbers. There are many more important decisions to make in terms of leadership. This decision gets a big fat "F"!

  55. Anon at 7:20: You wrote, "I cannot believe that 5 board members would not know that you NEVER back out of a 'threat' to do something." You should know that the reinstatement vote only *narrowly* passed with a 3-2 count. Both Maggied and Whiting voted AGAINST reinstating middle school sports for the fall. Whiting did vote to reinstate gifted programming, but Maggied voted against that too, stating that he felt both reinstatements ignored the community's decision in the election. With elections coming in November, it is important not to assume the board felt or acted unanimously. I, for one, will be watching all future decisions very closely. And while I understand that it took relatively little money from the union contract savings to reinstate middle school sports, as Paul has said before, I feel it is simply "bad optics," particularly when it sent the very clear message that extracurricular athletics are more valuable than curriculum (gifted 7-12, and 5th grade band and strings were not reinstated, even temporarily). Athletics, on the other hand, merited not only reinstatement, but the formation of a special committee. My kids are athletes, but they are also musicians and participants of grade 7-12 gifted services. I will not forget this decision.

  56. Joe:

    I think there is a 'vicious cycle" created when the officials of the district shy away from public discourse and the people of the district are largely apathetic to what's going on. I don't what else to call it when fewer people show up to vote that we have kids attending our schools.

    And the only time we see big attendance at school board meetings, or even email communications, is when a decision is being criticized.

    Not that criticism is inappropriate or undeserved. But it's always after the fact. It would be much more productive if folks would engage earlier in the process.

    A fair rebuttal to that last statement would be that it seems there is rarely enough advance notice of pending decisions to have much public engagement. But it's also a cop-out.

    We have a championship-class school district that's in real danger of running out of gas. There has been many an auto racing team who had the race won right up until they ran out of gas.

    The commentor immediate above says "Just goes to show that life and running a company/district is not all about the numbers. There are many more important decisions to make in terms of leadership."

    That's right, it is. But from the perspective of a Board seat, the indications is that programming and service delivery is going very well. Doesn't the "Excellent with Distinction" rating tell us that? Doesn't the competitive performance of our athletics, and the high critical acclaim of our arts programs say that as well?

    So to me, it is a numbers problem that should be getting the bulk of the Board's attention.

    But it's also clear that we have a process and communications problem. I'm sick that a decision that was meant to be a positive for teachers, staff and students has turned to crap.

    Turns out that the issues of communications, process and finances are all tightly coupled.

    We're not going to fix the financial problems without much better communications. And we're not going to get better communications until we radically change our process for making decisions.

    It's often said that it the status quo never changes except in the face of great pain.

    I think we're getting there.

  57. I think the bad feelings are due to miscommunication but not necessarily deceitful communication by the board in this case. This is just my opinion. First of all, I think many of the posters here are mistaken when they say the voters said those cuts were ok. Those cuts were just a small percentage of the levy. What I heard/read at the board meetings and in letters to the paper and in this blog was that 6.9 was just too large and that the voters did not want to *permanently* throw more money at the unsustainable growth especially salaries and benefits. I often heard it asked what were the plans for the other $12M the levy would raise each year. I did not hear a single person state that they wanted to take ANYTHING away from the kids especially gifted and sports. Everything I heard was that other options must exist that would save these programs and contracts needed to be changed.

    I do not believe that the decision to reinstate those programs was based on the contracts. I think they were separate avenues the board was following that happened to come to fruition at the same time. When I have followed the contract negotiations in the past they have taken months and months to complete so no one would have assumed it would end so quickly. The gifted and sports decision had to be made now to retain staff and set schedules and update the 5-year forecast. It appears that the state budget is going to require some gifted programming to remain so it needs to be planned. Many in the community asked that alternatives to cutting all of middle school sports be studied and that is what has been put in place. I think the miscommunication was actually the media release that tied the contract extensions to the program reinstatement.

    So in a step to improve communication, I hope that when the next levy amount is set that the communications include the plans for ALL the funds.

  58. Anon 7:20... I would venture to say that on the other hand, there would be some in the community who would have felt like the BOE was unresponsive, if some of cuts had NOT been restored in light of the concessions and post-levy community input. Just a balancing point, as these things usually cut both ways.

  59. Adding to "Shocked" comments above, for purposes of accuracy, the district does not consider 6th grade as "elementary." So, there was no reinstatement of 6th grade gifted services next year too. Reinstatement was only for K-5. Quite a disappointment when there are more than enough children at Station and Tharp to have multiple full classrooms (of 25 students) of advanced language arts. How can there be any cost saving when these children have to be taught anyway? Why integrate them into a regular classroom for this instruction? It defies common sense, really.

  60. I have heard that the 6th grade advanced math and 7th grade compacted science were 'cut' but truthfully they were just declassified as 'gifted' and will still be offered. So the only non-elementary gifted course that is lost is the 6th grade LA. And Anonymous above has a good point, these students will need to be taught LA no matter what so maybe an advanced section will be offered though it may no longer be classified as a gifted service. My fingers are crossed.

  61. Heather:

    Actually, the union leadership and the administration may been exchanging ideas on the new contracts for quite a while - I don't know.

    Speaking for myself only, the opportunity to temporarily reinstate middle school sports for the Fall and restore gifted programming was a direct result of learning about the new tentative agreements at the 5/23 Board meeting, and the two decisions were made simultaneously.

    My regret is that the teachers didn't know before they voted that this was the direction the Board was going. I truly thought this was a positive thing - showing respect for the teachers and staff by putting some of what they contributed back into jobs and programs. There are after all a number of teachers who were recalled, and many bus drivers who will now be getting hours (for sports transportation) that would have otherwise gone away.

    And as the Superintendent said, those decisions had to be made right away, else we were going to risk losing some of those teachers that were laid off plus miss the opportunity to schedule the fall MS sports, causing those coaches to lose their supplementaries and the drivers the work opportunities.

    The easiest thing in the world would have been to let the cuts stand. But that would have meant more programs cut and more jobs lost. How is that a win for the kids, teachers or staff?

    Clearly, we have a lot of work to do.

  62. I have to say something that I think everyone on here has missed.

    We had several people at the meeting on Monday who are employees complain that they weren't told that their concessions would be partly used to reinstate programs that were being cut.

    We had several people on this blog say the same thing.


    Rick Strader of the HEA bitched about the opposite: that HEA expected that teachers who had been let go would be rehired.

    Folks, these two things don't add up and people in this district need to wise up.

    And district employees need to actually listen when people are speaking at the board meeting. The same people applauding when people were complaining about these cuts being reinstated also applauded Rick Strader for complaining about the opposite!

    I've realized this week that this is all a game to the people running the district and the unions. (Note: NOT the district employees.)

    And we are ALL being taken for a ride.

  63. I was at last weeks board meeting. Very interesting and different from the previous one.

    The anger by the teachers is understandable. If I was a teacher and was not told that these programs were being reinstated, then I would be angry too. Especially without all the facts. I’m guessing that the reinstatement of these programs is a drop in the bucket in the overall budget math. But without the facts, you can’t have reason, and the only way to react is with emotion.

    So why does no one look at the facts? Because they are not readily available in detailed form. According the news release announcing the cuts, the elimination of gifted, middle school sports, and 5th grade music would save the district - $1,348,987 in the current years budget. How much is each one individually worth? How much does it cost to restore only fall sports vs. the entire year? How much is it going to cost to restore some of the gifted programs? It also states that MS Athletic directors would be cut. How much was that going to save? Are they now being retained? At what cost? How much of the proposed transportation savings is now gone? In general, the cuts were to total $ 3,890,279. After the decision to reinstate these programs, what is the total now?

    In other words: WHAT ARE THE NUMBERS?

    Because If I was a teacher, I would want to know how much of the savings introduced by the new contract is going to offset those cuts. I would want to know the real numbers.

    However, the teachers and union are being just a *bit* disingenuous with their outrage here.

    Number 1: When they (or the board, or anyone else) says that the public voted on these cuts when they did not pass the May levy, that’s a bunch of baloney. Per the districts own numbers, those programs cost $1.5 million a year. The levy would have raised about 10 times that amount of money per year. So when saying the voters decided this, my guess is the voters weren’t deciding to cut those programs, they were saying no to the large levy size itself. These cuts were obviously cynically proposed by the administration as “leverage” to try to get people to vote yes on the levy, so they wouldn’t have to deal with the fiscal crisis brought about by the untenable compensation packages they have awarded for the last decade.

    Number 2: When I read of teachers or union reps expressing outrage about these programs being reinstated when their colleagues are “leaving jobs they love in tears” Uh, didn’t reinstating gifted services just save some of those colleagues?

    But it’s not surprising that they are expressing emotion at this time. Because the board and the admin don’t ever give the numbers that actually mean anything. Somewhere, someone has a spreadsheet they used to calculate these numbers. Where is it? Why can’t we see it? The cynic in me knows why, because it serves the board, the administration, and the Unions better to make it hard to see exactly what is going on.


  64. "But it’s not surprising that they are expressing emotion at this time. Because the board and the admin don’t ever give the numbers that actually mean anything. Somewhere, someone has a spreadsheet they used to calculate these numbers. Where is it? Why can’t we see it? The cynic in me knows why, because it serves the board, the administration, and the Unions better to make it hard to see exactly what is going on.


    Please be careful NOT to lump the employees(union) with administration. I believe the district employees are in the dark as much as you and the rest of the public. And that is the disturbing part of all of this. I think MOST if not all of the employees would agree, that administration used the MS sports as leverage for the levy.
    I would also ask Paul what sacrifices those at central office made? The union stepped up. I heard district administrators(principals/asst princ. and AD) are taking a pay freeze, pay more into benefits as well. What about the central office employees?

  65. I too would like to see the kind of detail you're asking for. It has not been the custom of this Board to make use of such detail in its decision process. I'm hoping the upcoming Board retreat on June 23-24 will start to change that.

    The reality is that the pace of spending growth of which we've indulged ourselves over the past decade or so cannot be sustained by any reasonable forecast of revenue growth.

    So we need to have some uncomfortable conversations about programming, services and compensation that look forward over many years, not just to the next levy.

    The only way to survive that, in my opinion, is for everyone - the Board, the Administration, the employees, suppliers and taxpayers to all be looking at common, comprehensive data.

    That's because it takes trust, and trust is never fostered in an environment where people have to fill in big information gaps with assumptions and emotion. This case of the HEA voting while lacking important information is a prime example...

  66. To Anon at 8:41. Point well taken. I will be careful with that in the future.

    To Paul, you outline exactly why we need the details. How can we know what programs to look at without a detailed understanding of the costs at a program level. A great example is the new committee looking at pay to participate for sports. How can they be expected to do an even reasonable job without detailed information on salaries, facilities maintenance costs, equipment costs, transportation costs, fees, etc. on per sport basis. Now, maybe they will have it, but without it, how will they make any recommendation?