Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Election 2011 Comments

I'll write about my thoughts on the election when I've had a chance to digest the numbers, and we have a final tally on the levy. Meanwhile, feel free to post thoughtful comments here, but be forewarned that I'll not publish comments I find to be hateful, which make personal attacks, etc.


  1. So where do we stand on the levy? There are still some outstanding votes (provisional ballots, absentee ballots sent near the deadline) to be counted, correct? Then there is the matter of a recount because of the razor-thin margin. What is the latest? Thanks!

  2. Has anyone seen Al Gore at Port Columbus. There is allot of talk about dangling chads and making sure we count all the votes.

  3. Can you provide insight, or a link, what actually happens in a recount? Are Absentee Ballots already counted and they are just counting provisional ballots etc? What exactly is a provisional ballot? Do we have any idea how many provisional ballots there are? Thanks!

  4. Unfortunately, the residents of Hilliard have spoken. Every household has to readjust budgets and prioritize expenses. Hilliard City Schools need to do the same during this tough economic time. It might be a few years until we see a brighter future. I hope the situation does take a turn for the better and the schools get what they deserve or need to survive. Maybe this will help us come up with a better way to fund the public schools without having to go to the homeowners for more property taxes. I don’t know what the solution may be, but there has to be a better way.

  5. Paul,

    Regardless of the final outcome, we have a very divided community, and we shall be looking to the Board of Education to bring this community back together.

    I hope you and Heather Keck will indeed stand together and demand more community outreach before the district heads back to the ballot once more (which, as you have pointed out, it will need to do sooner rather than later).

  6. Before there is a recount, the Board of Elections will first have to count all the provisional ballots and the last minute absentee ballots. The margin is so slight that there is a very real chance of the outcome being reversed when all the valid ballots are counted, and then recounted (if the recount still shows the margin to be very small).

    A provisional ballot is used when a voter comes to a voting location without having valid ID that matches the information in the "poll signature book." These are the listings used by the poll workers to verify that a voter is registered and is voting in the right precinct.

    So if a voter comes into the location, claims to live in that precinct, but doesn't have ID that confirms that, then the voter is given a paper ballot which is placed within a sealed envelope on which the voter's ID information is captured. The Board of Elections will look at this ID information, and if they can confirm, will count the vote. Otherwise it will be discarded. In some case, the voter may be required to go to the BoE offices within 10 days to produce valid ID.

    The provisional ballot system was introduced with the idea that we should try very hard to count every valid vote. Poll workers (which I have been for a number of years) are trained to never turn voters away, but rather to presume every person who comings into the polling location is authorized to vote. The provisional ballot system allow all votes to be captured, and judged for validity by the BoE.

  7. Until the recount is complete, we don't really know what the Hilliard voters have said.

    If we're going to have public schools, then I would argue that local property taxes are one of the most stable mechanisms for funding. But I'm certainly open to hearing other ideas.

    The economic issue is spending growth, and it's the growing comp and benefits costs which drive spending growth. That's the conversation we need to be having. We can no longer dance around this issue.

    With the repeal of SB5, school boards - on behalf of the people of their communities - will need to continue to negotiate with unions that have the authority to strike if they don't like the way the negotiations are going.

    The people of our community - Hilliard - will have to decide how to negotiate with the teacher and staff unions going forward. If we have respectful and empathetic dialog between the two parties, maybe we can reach a sustainable economic future with little strife.

    But if everyone decides to man the barricades and take pot shots at each other, it's going to be ugly in 2013 when the union contracts expire.

  8. Anon @ 2:10 PM... With all due respect, we don't know exactly what the results are yet. There are provisional ballots and any 'last-minute' absentee ballots. Certainly, there are enough to make a difference where the margin is currently 8 votes. It appears that all ballots haven't even been counted the first time. Then, there is the matter of the recount itself.

    Regardless of the results, I don't know that either camp (anti-levy or pro-levy) can take on the mantle the "residents have spoken" (as if it were with a predominant voice indicating a mandate) with a result this close. That doesn't mean that a close result either way shouldn't be respected.

  9. Just a note... In the May election (which lost by 13 percentage points), the small number of provisionals actually went in favor of the levy by a 64-47 count. So, yes, there is a distinct possibility that the lead could change hands (between AGAINST/FOR) - especially when the current margin is so small. And it could change again during a recount. We are truly in a wait-and-see situation.

  10. @STJ

    You are correct. No one knows the final outcome yet.

    However, while you point out that the provisionals went in favor of the "yes" vote, might I also point out that in both elections the absentee ballots went in favor of the "no" vote.

    Also, if anyone hasn't noticed, the margin is now 8 votes. There's one precinct in Union County which appears to have voted 2-0 against the levy.

    Now we wait. But as I said above, the board must be the ones to bring this community back together, or they will find it impossible to pass any future levies.

  11. Paul wrote:

    "But if everyone decides to man the barricades and take pot shots at each other, it's going to be ugly in 2013 when the union contracts expire."

    Or in 2014 when the voters revolt because the same-old, same-old Board caves in to the Union and a 9.9 Mil levy will need to be passed....

  12. Several thoughts:
    While the turnout was better than in May, seems only half of those registered bothered to vote. As a person who voted from halfway around the world in my Navy days, I find this sad. Given how close it turned out I hope at least a few people wake up and realize - MY VOTE COUNTS!

    Some quick number crunching - 29,216 total votes cast on the levy, 36,839 total for all candidates for school board. Did some folks not get it that they were able to vote for TWO candidates for school board? Or is there some "logic" that they followed thinking that selecting only one candidate would help to ensure their choice? I don't get it.....
    I realize it takes money to run a campaign, but I must say, I did not hear much from any of the Board candidates. I will admit to missing the one (that I know of) candidates night. The silence was so deafening that an incumbent was reelected, and the newest member is someone with previous name recognition. Probably didn't hurt her that she was endorsed by the HEA - which proves to me that some folks just don't get it. No offense to anyone, but more of the same-old same-old is sure to follow. Kicking the can.....

    Regardless of which way the recount ends up, neither side had better be claiming a "mandate". And both sides better start figuring out how we can avoid another vote, be it the next election should the levy fail, or 2 years from now when the money runs out (again).

  13. I'm sure there will be plenty of union administrator eyes on that last provisional vote. By the way, that is not hateful to any person or group; it's just a fact. If I could vote myself a raise I would. I don’t want anyone to lose their job, but for 3 yrs I have endured cuts and wage freezes. When I see the teacher unions do the same for three years, then come back and ask for more. Good luck on the re-count.

  14. If you've not seen it, here's the three year agreement signed by the teachers back in June. It freezes their base pay until at least Dec 31, 2013. Remember that their last base pay increase was Jan 2010. Step increases are postponed until Feb 2013. The last step increases were in July 2010.

    And they agreed to increase their contribution for medical insurance from 10% to 15%.

    So with a compensation freeze, and increased health insurance deductions, the teachers have indeed taken a pay cut.

  15. All,

    Here is an interesting "fun fact" about Tuesday's election. The "under vote" for Issue 17 and the board members was as follows for the 29,660 total votes cast by folks in the Hilliard area.

    The Board of Education (pick 2) had 22,449 under votes or 37% of 59,320 (29,660 x 2) possible votes cast.

    Issue 17 had 440 under votes or just 1.4% of 29,660 votes cast.

    A question to ponder... Did voters who did not pick 2 candidates tend to just pick one to statistically improve that candidate’s chance, or did many of those voters just not have an opinion on the board candidates?

    If it is the case of many voters not having an opinion about the candidates, then ironically they missed out on voting for/against the folks who will help determine the path for Hilliard for the next few years and what/when the next levy will come around!

    I think that the under vote stat may be a good indicator as to the average Hilliard voter's engagement in Hilliard schools. "I don't care who is on the board, just don't raise my taxes..."

    Any thoughts?

  16. @Paul wrote:

    So with a compensation freeze, and increased health insurance deductions, the teachers have indeed taken a pay cut.


    Umm... no. Given that those receiving steps will still receive 2 steps in the three years, totaling 8.3%, that's not a pay freeze however you spin it.

    But I am sick of hearing about this. Even AFTER this "pay freeze" the district was left with a defict of over $80m in the next five years.

    So, the unions graciously gave us about 10% of what is actually needed to make it through the next 5 years. The taxpayers were stuck with the other 90%.

    And we are supposed to be thankful?

    Please, let's keep things in perspective.

    Now, if the result stands and the cuts come in, we just waxed another $40m of that deficit (most of the cuts don't occur until the next school year, so it's only 4 yrs).

    If that's the case, if the board comes back looking for money to fill that $40m gap, it may well succeed. If it asks for more than it needs in order to reinstate anything it cut, I suspect the voters will tell them to go pound sand.

    Regardless though, we MUST come together to fix this in the long run!

  17. M:

    From July 2010 to Feb 2013, no teacher will see a gross pay increase, but from June 2011 forward, will have an extra 5% of the total health insurance premium deducted. That will make their paychecks get smaller for that period.

    Indeed in Feb 2013, the teachers still on steps will get a 4.15% increase, and on July 2013 they'll get another. But both are delayed from the norm, and are specifically stated in the contract to have no retroactive component.

    However, for the teachers not on the step schedule, no gross pay increase will be realized from Jan 2010 until after Dec 2013, yet they will also be paying the extra 5% of the insurance premium.

    No question that the Current Five Year forecast shows spending growing faster than revenue, by a significant amount. The community needs to have a serious conversation about that, and I hope the School Board will take the initiative to organize and frame the conversation.

  18. Hillirdite and Steve B: There is indeed a notion that if you are really interested in getting one person elected, you vote for only that person. If you vote for two, you're just adding to the total for a competitor, which may knock your candidate out of the running.

  19. @M

    Hard to tell whether those last absentees were going to break in favor of, or against the levy. I could see those possibly going against the trend of the earlier absentees. Quite frankly, none of us knows.

    Again, regardless of the outcome, it appears we have a deeply divided community that will need to come back together and move forward. I think we've all concluded that there is no clear mandate. This isn't Westerville, where the levy got hammered.

  20. Paul... Any ideas as to the number of provisionals that are out there to be counted? I know that the 'last minute' absentee count probably won't be know for a few days.

  21. STJ: No, but if my experience in a Grove City polling location was an indicator, there may be a lot. We had lots of folks who came out to vote who don't normally, presumably to vote on SB5, and many of them had valid IDs that weren't a match to their current address.

    I still think most SB5 opponents in our district would have been likely to vote in favor of the levy, and I think most of these occasional voters were anti-SB5 (because the anti-SB5 group seemed more organized and motivated than the pro-SB5 side), which should bode well for gaining enough votes to pass the levy.

  22. Paul

    All this talk of cutting teacher salaries...What about value for the money? I'd like to pay the great teachers more and the under-performers less. This would make the schools better, which would make me more likely to approve tax increases if needed. Comments?


  23. Many would also like to see merit pay become the normal mode of business in education. I agree with the principle of linking reward to effectiveness, but think there are a couple of practical problems:

    1. No one has, to my knowledge, developed a performance measurement approach for teachers which can accurately isolate the teacher's impact from all the other variables in the system.

    One would think that by now some smart EdD/PhD candidate would have developed a system that could be put into practice, experimented with, and perfected. The fact that none has been tells me the education community isn't all that interested the question. Maybe that's because...

    2. ...those who become teachers aren't necessarily motivated by money. That's not to say that they aren't motivated by something else though.

    If an individual is not all that motivated by money, yet we try to use money as the sole 'carrot,' then the system will be both expensive and yield unintended results.

    I once knew a highly talented and incredibly valuable software engineer who said that he was put on a merit pay plan, he would quit. That didn't mean he didn't want to be paid well. But he preferred to have the freedom to work on what he thought was important rather than feel hostage to a performance plan. Turns out that the reward he wanted was that freedom. He turned out some pretty incredible and exceedingly valuable work.

    Had we forced a merit pay system on him, we would have wasted a lot of money, missed the opportunity to benefit from his insights, or lost him as a valuable contributor to our team -- perhaps all three.

    The secret to a really effective 'merit' system is to have it be accurate, trusted, difficult to 'game,' and yield rewards that are targeted to the individual.

  24. The point of that discourse is to say that if we spent the time and energy to really pay attention to what motivated individual teachers, we might not have to spend as much money. Very often, one of the greatest rewards to a top performer is to reduce the 'hassle factor' associated with a job...

  25. I believe "I don't care who is on the board, just don't raise my taxes..." sums it up for every resident of Hilliard that I know (neighbors, friends, acquaintances, we aren't Hilliard socialites). Honestly, my wife and I have only ever been 4 school board meetings in our duration living in Hilliard. Our participation (or lack there of) has been truly disgusting. However, most of our neighbors have never went to a single one.

    I voted 'no' on this past levy. I've not had a cost-of-living-raise in 5 years. My wife's lost her job twice now in the past 10 (still unemployed now). Health insurance for us has doubled each of the past 3 years. We've cut eating out, cable TV, the newspaper, phones, cut to the lowest internet. We've skipped Xmas gifts and Bday gifts the past 2 years.

    We just do not have additional money for the schools. I suppose one could say that we don't have additional money for anything. And you'd probably be right.

    There have been two foreclosed homes directly by our house. More on streets around the neighborhood. Our neighbors have lost jobs. We have seen repo trucks business in our neighborhood skyrocket. This is not a neighborhood typical of that in usual times. The job and financial loss in this community is in-fact real. And that's not to mention the older folk on fixed income who would be asked to contribute more money towards school funding.

    We are not the only ones apparently to vote no, and I know we are not the only ones to vote no simply because there is no more spare cash in our household budget.

    As for the teachers, God bless their souls. Lord knows they were patient enough to teach our two brats when they went through the school system.

    However, when they go 5 or more years w/o a raise; when they personally bear the burden of the true cost of their health care (6x increase!). When the schools have offered different plans (Westerville's earned income anyone?). When the schools have _not_ dropped all extras, but instead made anything extra "pay to play" so the guy down the street with 6 kids actually has to *pay* for each of his kids to attend school and play sports et all. That is when I would try to figure out a way which we could pay more towards a new levy offering and I'd vote 'yes'.

    "one of the greatest rewards to a top performer is to reduce the 'hassle factor' associated with a job" Absolutely! And that's for all factors of all fields! Some will work for less hourly/yearly to find such a position rather then make more in another less-then-ideal place of work.

    Thanks for listening. @anonemouse

  26. Thanks for your comment.

    The reality is that the population of our community is made up of a spectrum of folks who range from those who will never support a school tax increase to those who will always support a tax increase. I recently heard a parent say that she feared our school district didn't spend enough.

    So there is no way to make 100% of the people in our district 100% happy 100% of the time. In fact, it may be rare to have a majority of the people mostly happy more than half the time. My wife and I have lived in this community for 30 years, and don't ever remember a levy vote that was a cakewalk.

    Here's the thing about community endeavors, like running a public school district: we have to figure out how to fairly pool our resources in order to collectively reap the benefits of the endeavor.

    The questions are always "What's fair?" and "How much do we think we need?" There will never be consensus on these things.

    I have a friend who pays $50,000 in property taxes each year, but has never had kids in our school district. Is that fair? Forget whether he can afford it, is it fair to demand that he bear the cost of educating our kids?

    There are other folks who live in subsidized housing, yet have several kids in our schools. They pay very little property tax (via their rent), but reap great benefits. Is that fair?

    You note that your kids are grown - so are mine. Neither of us have the wealth of my friend, but like him, we're still paying school taxes. It doesn't seem fair, does it?

    It seems even less so when one's income take a significant hit. Mine has a well - it's actually gone down in the last decade - and like you, we pay for our own health insurance, and you're right - it's getting pretty expensive - pushing other discretionary spending out of our budget.

    Nonetheless, there are plenty of people in our community who do have kids in school, who do have stable incomes, and who are willing to underwrite their share and more of the projected budget.

    That's the thing about democracy - we have to agree to let the majority rule, at least the majority of the minority who bother to vote. Even so, in regard to the governance of our schools, I'd like to see the day when a lot more than a simple majority agrees on how much we spend, and what we spend it on.

    That takes lots of communication, and it strikes me that putting a levy on the ballot, running a brief campaign, and hoping we get one more YES than NO is an extraordinarily ineffective way to get that done.

    I hope this blog contributes to the dialog, but it isn't enough - not by a long shot. More can be done, and I hope you continue to speak out and add your perspective to the conversation.

  27. Paul,

    I think the community, board and administration needs to review the cut list. I certainly understand that you cannot please everyone and that non-mandated items are the first to be cut. But I think one of the items - high school busing - needs to be readdressed. Though not mandated, it is important at so many levels the largest of which is the safety of all high school students. By eliminating busing, there will be an increase in walkers, bicyclists, and vehicles. Many of those vehicles will be driven by teenage drivers. The ODE offers links about pupil transportation and the Report on the Relative Risks of School Travel is included. I won't ask you to read the entire report but this page of the Executive Summary says it all - .

  28. I did have an opinion about the board candidates. My opinion was that there was only one that I wanted on the board. That is why I only voted for one candidate. If I had the option to vote no, instead of just leaving blanks, I would have.

  29. We can sit here all day and debate whats wrong, whats right, whats fair and unfair to the teachers, taxpayers and so on but the real victim in all of this is the CHILDREN! At the end of the day they will be the ones to truly suffer the blow of the cuts that may have to be made pending the outcome of the recount.

  30. Paul -

    Regarding this:

    From July 2010 to Feb 2013, no teacher will see a gross pay increase, but from June 2011 forward, will have an extra 5% of the total health insurance premium deducted. That will make their paychecks get smaller for that period

    The fact that a routine life expense that is deducted from a paycheck went up, that does not mean that the employee received a pay cut, it means that something they voluntarily purchase increased in price. It's no different than if coffee, oranges or the AT&T unlimited iPhone plan goes up - the fact that expenses went up does not translate to a pay cut.

    I'd also remind the readership that it remains against state law to reduce the salary of a public school teacher unless the reduction is party of a uniform reduction of all employees.

  31. Heather:

    With respect, the community has known that busing was on the cut list since the Board passed that resolution in August. There have been many opportunities since then to appeal to the Board to modify the list, but I don't recall anyone other than Mike Harrold (and me) speaking out against the elimination of high school busing.

    We had scores of people come out to protest the cuts in extracurriculars and gifted programming, and it changed the outcome of the process.

    But if we (I) learned anything in regard to the Spring levy, one is that these cut lists are expected to be viewed as a commitment, and not changed after the election.

    If the levy ends up being defeated, and busing is cut, then you are by all means welcome to drum up support for the restoration of busing. All I ask is that you have a reasonable proposal for what should be cut instead. I suggested the school resource officers (Hilliard police officers posted in each of our high schools) be cut instead of busing, but was alone in that opinion.

  32. Paul,
    Could you tell me how one can get the information needed to bring a "reasonable proposal" for alternative cuts? I have searched the district site, attended board meetings, asked a school principal and the district treasurer for what certain programs/classes/activities actually cost. I have yet to get the information and the double talk responses lead me to believe that either A) no one has any clue what things actually cost or B) the powers that be do not want me to have a clue. This is part of why I did not vote for the levy-I do not feel the district is dealing honestly with the community and I don't feel the board is holding the district accountable for that. At best, the board was a rubber stamp for the district's cut list. The district said this is how much must be cut and this is the only way to do it and the board must give it an up or down vote. Why not say this is how much must be cut, this is how much everything costs, this is what the district recommends? Maybe all the same cuts would have been ok'd or maybe the board would have made changes. At the very least, it would be out there for the community to actually see what different things cost. I'm left with the feeling that our district, whose sole purpose of being is to educate people, would prefer that we remain ignorant.

  33. I'd rather drive my child to school than not have a police officer on the grounds. However, with the current state of the HCSD, I may consider moving if we can.

  34. Paul:

    With that same respect, I learned during the last levy and again during this one that the cut list appears to be presented by the administration to the board and there is little to no discussion. I was one of those scores of people that came out to protest gifted programming cuts last time. The previous outcome was changed only after the levy failed as before it we were simply told that if you do not like the cuts then vote for the levy. Period, end of discussion. That is the response I received from everyone on the board except for you. So my lesson was learned. I did follow and actually commented on the thread that you linked to above in August. I greatly appreciate your dialog with the community. So it appears that once again the levy may have failed and there is some time before all the cuts will be made.

    There is a group forming about the busing cut. We do have facts and figures about the transportation costs and transportation safety reports. I hope that we will find other cuts that total less than $500,000 that do not impact the safety of our students.

  35. Paul,
    How can you say these cuts should be viewed as a commitment and not changed after the election? Isn't that exactly what happened with fall MS sports?!

  36. Paul, understand the 5% medical contribution but that needs some comparison with the private sector. Current 50.00 a month (not per week) in cost for single unit, Family is 135.00
    Plus no dental cost. so 600.00 a year for a single unit as an example 5% of that .......
    wow another maybe 50.00 per year ?
    Also there is provision for out of pocket that is reimbursed. This is so very far way from what the community pays out. This can be fixed easily and save us future dollars

    The levy may eke out a victory and the increase is what it is to the individual tax base and that continues the tradition that the community HAS supported its schools. We have a grandiose
    infrastructure. In hindsight, we have to reign in our priorities and spending.

    But unless we are going to have a REAL conversation on how to reign in compensation and benefits, we wil see a 10 mill levy next time.

    It just remains to be seen if the board has the courage to take on tough decisions especially with the majority having the endorsement of the HEA. Just common senses the four are not going to go against any more contributions from inside
    Is the board willing to listen at board meetings and by that the entire board. Given its for the kids, not supposed to be about the district and its employees, is the courage to change there?
    .3. A thorugh look at elective participation.

    4 Furlough days could short term solve our
    immediate budget issues if necessary. State workers took ten, other local govt 5 to 10
    HOw about NOT paying for snow days. I dont get paid nor does anyone else for snow days. YOu have to show up, might be late but you have to show up. NO classes no payments. Not one dime of this savings HURTS the kids,nor does it hurt education

    Scary, allready we are looking at the next contract negotiation as contentious possibly.
    I thought it was about the kids.....sic, sic

    If the levy passes which I believe it will buys us some time to get some serious issues addressed. Enough of this bare bones crap like we heard in the may levycampaign. So a 2,000 dollar reduction per employee prorated means a
    poorer education. Thats like me telling my boss, hey I took a pay cut, so I can do less.
    Guess what, wont last long, maybe an hour. And given all the issues in other districts even Dublin the threats to move on are hollow.

    So lets get after it, probably contentious, but 175 million forecasted budget is bare bones only if you are in need of a drug screen.

    And lastly, with all the hoopla from our board members about what the state did to us, etc etc.
    then I expect each one to publicly call out our wo state rep and and state senator who voted for these cuts, instead of inviting them for happy happy happy picture ops that they use at election time to convince us they are pro education Next time tell us the state rep is coming to a meeting so we can
    get after them with hardball questions not happy happy crap.

    We need badly a new state reps and senators starting with our own. Does the board have the courage of the bully pulpit to call them out.

    Courage to make some short term adjustments is in order and a long term look our future spending shows it is not sustainable. The public has provided a 160 million dollar base to educate our children.

    We can do this together if we actually try and we havethe courage to leave the sacred cows behind.

  37. Let's not forget, merit paying is coming, like it or not, because it was in the State budget, because it's a requirement for the race-to-the-top funds.

    I heard whisperings that Hilliard might decline the funds to keep the current pay system. If that happens, don't be surprised if any future levy requests are met with solid "no" votes.

    So, let's be real: we're taking the money, and merit pay is coming.

  38. With all respect to you sir, I would like to address your answer to Heather. When a community is hopeful that a levy will pass, why would anyone come to argue to have any item removed from the cut list. It is not until the reality of it now failing that will spark an interest in it's removal. Call it human nature, and fault the communinty for it...I will take my responsibility. The scores of people to protest the cuts in extra curriculars after the last election were after the fact as well, were they not?

    You on the school board along with Mr. McVey need to realize the roads that you are expecting some of the High Schoolers to walk have no sidewalks. I speak specifically of Bradley High School. From my home it is a three mile walk on two lane highways that are very narrow and only have, for the majority of the walk, a gravel shoulder that may be 1 foot in width. These roads also have a 45 MPH speed limit posted until you get to a school (Brown Elementary and Bradley) in which during school hours the speed limit will be 20MPH. These roads will have Farm equipement, vans, cars, SUV's, etc on them. More now due to parents and teenagers driving to school. The time of day for getting to school, and for some leaving the school will be dark out, meaning the children will be even more difficult to see. You will have kids who are coming from as far as Galloway, and any route they will take is the same. The only difference now is that Alton Darby has a bicycle lane and shoulder that kids would somewhat be protected, if they were coming from Lakewood.

    Another thing, a very small thing, to consider is will the parking at the High Schools be sufficient to hold all the cars that will have to be used now. As the law in Ohio is only one non-relative person can be in the car with a teenage driver.

    I appreciate you speaking out against this cut in the past. This is absolutely risking the lives of children, to save dollars for a school district.

    Thank you for all you do.

  39. Marc:

    I don't disagree with the technical aspects of your comment, but the perception is quite different. From the perspective of the teachers, the fraction of the health insurance premium they are required to pay is part and parcel of the overall compensation discussion.

    If a teacher's gross pay in Y1 is $50,000, and the teacher contributes $1,500/yr to the cost of health insurance; then if in the following year the gross is still $50,000 due to a base/step freeze, but the contribution fraction is increased, causing the deduction for health insurance to increase to $2,000/yr, that feels like a pay cut. Net income goes down.

    These contribution fractions are determined via collective bargaining, and are not negotiated in isolation from the other compensation components. Rather, these components feel like they are part of the compensation equation. I would certainly feel that way if I were in their shoes.

  40. Erika: I understand your point, and of the 300+ articles I've written for this blog, many made the same criticism.

    I'll suggest that we - the Board - had more discussion about this cut list than we've seen for a long time, maybe ever, in regard to this cut list.

    The key thing to understand is that we spend 90% of our budget on the compensation and benefits of our teachers, staff and administrators. The spending on the other 10% hasn't change much for years - almost all new dollars have been spent on new employees, pay raises, and increased benefits costs.

    Here's three documents which are a good start in any fiscal research effort: The Five Year Forecast Comprehensive Annual Financial Report and the Annual Budget

    The Budget document in particular gives a fair amount of detail in regard to the headcount assigned to the primary functional areas.

    But if we want to answer deeper questions, such as "How much does it cost to offer AP Physics in our high schools," the data is not so readily available. Nor is the analysis as trivial as it seems.

    If we decided to stop offering AP European History for example, can we actually eliminate any headcount? Teaching AP European History isn't something one teacher in each high school does all day. In fact, the AP European History teachers spend most of their day teaching other subjects. If we dropped AP European History from the curriculum, we have two problems: 1) a set of kids that have to find other classes to take; and, 2) an underutilized set of teachers.

    Subject offerings, teacher assignments, and student schedules are woven together in complex ways that evolved over many years of trying to optimize resources. It doesn't mean we can't unravel some of it if we determine we must, but it won't be as trivial as saying "Let's elimination course X from the high school catalog."

    I love to see us dig into this stuff as a community. But it's an "all in" commitment - we can't flit around on the surface, and entertain superficial thinking.

    That's one of the reasons I think we should form a large community working group, similar to the one used for redrawing school attendance boundaries a few years ago (I participated in this one), or the one used this year to tackle Pay-to-Play.

  41. Heather: The School Board is a political body which should respond to the will of the people, if the people hold the Board members accountable.

    The situation this Spring became awkward. A cut list was announced, the levy failed, yet some of the things on the cut list were restored. I can't speak for the other Board members, but my support of restoring those things was in response to the new contracts offered by the two unions. The words I used was that it was a "win-win" situation to restore that stuff - the community would get the benefit of those services, and some of the employees who had their jobs eliminated could be retained. I didn't understand the outcry.

    I think Doug Maggied and Lisa Whiting did understand, and it's the reason they opposed the restoration of programs - the only case of a 3-2 Board vote in my memory.

    My takeaway from that experience is that I'm not inclined to vote in favor of modifying a cut list after a levy failure without substantial support of both the community and the unions.

    As always, the need is for engagement and dialog. I appreciate that you and many other readers of this blog do both.

  42. Rick: You make a ton of good points. I'll offer an alternative view of the state funding cuts though.

    As the Governor said, it doesn't matter that SB5 was repealed, there still isn't any money. The State is funded mostly by income and sales taxes, and both are way down, in sync with the general state of the economy.

    The old joke is that the State is in three primary businesses: education, medication, and incarceration. To keep education funding whole, the State would have to cut back on Medicaid and/or our correction system. So which do we want, senior citizens foregoing their meds, or more criminals on the street?

    I've been saying for a long time that since we are viewed as an affluent school district by the State, we would be expected to make do with less and less State funding - even though we'll keep paying the same state income taxes. Our state income taxes will be increasingly diverted to the rural and urban districts, and it won't matter whether the Republicans or the Democrats control the Statehouse.

    SB5 was a clumsy attempt by the State to tell local governments that they should deal with state funding cuts by using the neutering of unions to cut the pay and/or benefits of teachers, police officers, firefighters and other public sector workers.

    We still may someday need to have a such a conversation - we don't know when and how quickly our economy is going to recover. But it will be infinitely harder now that SB5 has been shoved back up the Governor's patootie.

    We also need to figure out what it means that the voters of our school district were 3:2 for the repeal of SB5, but the levy vote was 50-50. One interpretation is that it means that the voters want public sector workers to continue to be able to collectively bargain, but that they don't want to actually pay them any more...

  43. M:

    Here's what we've been advised by the labor law experts at the Ohio School Boards Association:

    "Districts receiving RttT funds must adopt a salary schedule for teachers based upon performance in accordance with the timeline contained in the district’s RttT scope of work. If performance-based compensation is not a component of the scope of work, the board of education is not required to implement the new RC 3313.141 performance-based pay requirements."

    I can't lay my hands on our RttT MOU right now, but my recollection is that there was a specific carve out in regard to performance-based pay. I think our RttT funds came with no merit pay strings attached.

    Additionally, the OSBA advised:

    "By July 1, 2013, boards of education, in consultation with teachers, must adopt an evaluation policy that conforms to the SBOE’s framework (R.C. 3319.111). The policy shall become operative at the expiration of any collectively bargained agreement (CBA) in effect on Sept. 29, 2011, and shall be included in any renewal or extension of a CBA. Full implementation of the policy is required by the start of the 2013-14 school year, or earlier for any RttT district whose scope of work requires it. A principal evaluation framework is also required to be developed and implemented."

    We indeed signed a new three year agreement with the HEA this summer. In fact, teachers' unions statewide made a collective effort to get multi-year deals signed just to prevent immediate enactment of these merit pay provisions, even if it meant accepting pay freezes for the whole term of the agreement, as was the case here.

    I suspect the real hope is to maintain status quo until the unions can once again have a pro-labor government in place in the Statehouse, at which time all they'll push to repeal all this stuff.

    As I've said on many occasions, this whip-sawing from one extreme to another is going to doom us. We need to figure out long-term solutions, and restore some predictability for all parties.

  44. All,

    Here is a possible simple and fair solution for the busing problem:

    Say that ~10,000 of the 14,000+ students in HCS take the bus each day. If the budget shortfall/cuts for busing is $500,000 then that is $50 per student per year or 27 cents per student for a 180 day school year. Mighty cheap transportation if you as me!

    With gas at say ~$3.50/gal, and at an average car getting 20 miles per gallon in the city, that is 17 cents per mile. You would be better off paying $50 per year if you lived a round trip distance of greater than 1.58 miles between your house and school - ironically which is well within the district definition for kids that must walk/no bus service!

    I wonder what the board might think of this suggestion as it fairly spreads the cost of transportation across the kids who use it for about the 1/12 of the cost of a $3 lunch in the cafeteria per day!

  45. Paul,

    The first thing we need as Erika mentioned above, is a detailed accounting of district spending.

    I think also we're done with asking nicely; either the district provides it this time when it is asked, or it'll be forced to provide it through whatever legal methods are necessary to make it do so.

    I have to go that far, but someone in the district knows where the money is being spent, and the fact they're apparently unwilling to share that knowledge makes us think they've got something to hide.

    If you don't like the tactic, you should (along with Heather Keck) be demanding this information at the very first board meeting to prevent an ugly situation from arising.

  46. We also need to figure out what it means that the voters of our school district were 3:2 for the repeal of SB5, but the levy vote was 50-50.

    Charles Krauthammer shrewdly noted that the big mistake Ohio made, as compared to Wisconsin, was to not carve out exceptions for police and firefighter unions.

    The public tends to treat those two as sacred cows (because we are a nation obsessed with safety - just ask the Europeans). So I think there's a strong contingent of voters in Central Ohio who don't want to pay teachers more but do want to protect firefighter/police officer unions.

  47. Steve B:

    What you suggest merits some exploration, although I really dislikes the "unbundling" of the cost of operating our schools. I don't even like the idea that we make kids pay academic fees.

    I just don't know what it means to turn our public schools into some kind of a la carte enterprise, where some stuff is included in the price of the taxes everyone in the community pays, and some things are paid for only by the 'consumer' (ie - the kids and their families).

    If we started heading that direction, I'd prefer we go all the way and simply have parents pay tuition and fees. We'd collect a small community tax to provide tuition assistance to those who need it, but otherwise K-12 would be a pay-as-you-go system.

    But with that, I'd drop attendance boundaries - any kid could attend any school.

    I don't see much chance of this happening, not any time soon at least.

    One of the things that came up in the discussion of the cut list, and in particular the inclusion of high school busing on that list, is that only about 50% of the high school kids eligible to ride the buses actually do so - which is why the high school parking lots are packed every day.

    Another is that there has been at least one case where after the elimination of high school busing, attendance rates actually went up. Apparently there were kids who, being left home alone to make the choice whether or not to get on the bus and go to school, were choosing not to go. But when the parents had to get involved, the same kids showed up more often.

  48. M:

    I understand what you're saying - I'd just like to go at it differently. Specifically, I'd like to see the formation of an "Economic Sustainability Committee," of the same ilk as the most recent Athletic Sustainability Committee, or the prior Redistricting Committee.

    Not everyone in the District thinks like you, nor do they think like me. There is little chance of gaining consensus on anything - the best we can do is reach a compromise we can all live with.

    It's a not a data-driven decision process, as much as you and I would like it to be. Even with complete data, there will be disagreement as to what is important and what is superfluous. So the compromise process has to include not only data, but also dialog among the many stakeholders.

    Please don't throw a grenade in the room and force everyone to react. That's exactly what SB5 was, and it did more harm than good.

  49. Paul stated: " can't speak for the other Board members, but my support of restoring those things was in response to the new contracts offered by the two unions. The words I used was that it was a "win-win" situation to restore that stuff - the community would get the benefit of those services, and some of the employees who had their jobs eliminated could be retained. I didn't understand the outcry"

    And thats a shame you didn't understand the outcry. Its school board 101 Paul, you don't say you are going to cut something if the levy doesn't pass, then turn around and reinstate it after the failure. It sends the wrong message to the community. I truely believe that cost the district a number of votes. The district employees didn't do their freezes for that reason. The district made the first mistake using those cuts. The board followed up that mistake, with another by reinstating those cuts. Was it for the betterment of the kids? Yes. But it sent the wrong message. That is the reality of it.

  50. Jerry:

    Thanks. That may well be it, but it means we have to make another assumption: that the public has finally made the connection between increasing school taxes and increasing teacher compensation.

    It would be great if that is the case, because it would mean that we are finally ready to have the dialog about taxes vs compensation.

    But I suspect that the NO votes on school levies aren't motivated by the teacher compensation question, but rather by a generalized belief of those voters that school districts spend wastefully.

    Another reason why I think having this "Economic Sustainability Cmte" is a worthwhile effort - there is great benefit in getting 100 or so people understanding and in dialog about the real economic drivers in our community. They become the starting point of a viral information-spreading process that is often way more effective that formal communications (not that we don't need to work on that too).

  51. Re Anon on restoring the cuts: As I said, it was a learning experience for me. It sure felt like a win-win, benefiting both the kids and the employees.

    But win-win implies that there are only two stakeholders in the game. I think it was really more like a win-win-lose-win-draw-lose.

    I also accept that there are virtually no decisions I can make individually, or that we can make as a Board, that will please 100% of the voters. In fact, I'm confident that every decision we make on controversial subjects costs some votes. But they hopefully also gain some votes.

    The rational way to go about this, I think, is to seek a good deal more public input prior to making decisions on controversial subjects. In retrospect, I wish we had some hearings before the reinstatement vote.

    Thanks for the feedback.

  52. I posted some bad data above. The SB5 vote in our district was 45% YES (to keep) and 55% NO (to repeal). Not quite as large a difference vs the levy vote as I had first thought.

    In 40 of the 76 precincts, voters wanted to repeal SB5 but support the levy. This combination makes sense to me.

    But 22 of the 76 voted to repeal SB5 and against the levy. As I said, I'm not sure what that means, although Jerry offers an interesting possibility.

    So I wonder where all the provisional ballots will come from. Odds are from the first group, and the six vote gap is likely to be reversed, perhaps by a substantial margin.

    But what about the last minute absentee ballots? These are often older voters, and I think they're prone to vote against levies these days.

    Too bad we haven't figured out a way to run elections so this stuff gets settled on election day...

  53. Paul: "But what about the last minute absentee ballots? These are often older voters, and I think they're prone to vote against levies these days."

    Overall on absentee ballots, i would agree older voters. But the late ones coming in, not so sure. My bet is the older voters were the early absentee. Late could be just those procrastinators, such as out of town college students. Personally, talking with those I know who sent in late..there were a number of yes absentee late ones. Should be interesting to see how it comes out.

  54. @Paul - I think you may be correct on the provisionals, but be careful; there were a lot of people who came out for Issue 3 as well as Issue 2...

  55. Anon 11/11 @ 5:32 PM...

    I was thinking the same thing.

    As for Issue 2 / Issue 3, Ohioans split the vote right down the middle between those two issues, which might seem to the casual observer to be a bit contradictory. I might also add it can be a bit dicey to attempt to align political parties with school levy votes. There are Republican-leaning areas (Dublin, Olentangy, New Albany) are generally favorable to school levies. Hilliard tends to lean Republican, but has voted in a number of tax requests over the last 20 years. I suspect it might be that way with the Issue 2 / Issue 3 / School Levy analysis. I'm sure there is a correlation, but the strength of the correlation would make for an interesting study. Just my .02, though.

  56. Hi Paul, do you know how the Pay-to-Pay fee is broken down? What is the $600 paying for?

  57. My wife and I are first time voters in Hilliard. We mailed the absentee ballot 4 days before the election day. Do you know normally 4 days is enough for it to be counted on the election day, or it has not been counted yet?

  58. Not enough people in the district pay property tax. Help the school with a sales tax nit property tax. They all have to shop

  59. Jennifer: The idea is that the pay-to-play fee covers all the direct costs associated with extracurricular activities. In other words, the costs that would go away if the extracurricular activities were to be cancelled. That would include things like the supplemental salaries paid to coaches, directors, and other full or part time employees. It would also include transportation costs.

    Much of the background information for all this can be found in the report developed by the Athletic Sustainability Committee over the summer.

  60. No one outside the Board of Elections knows which, if any, absentee ballots were included in the numbers announced on Election Day. The typical case is that the margin is large enough that even if all the absentee and provisional ballots went in one direction, the outcome of the election wouldn't change, allowing the Board to announce winners on Election Day.

    Obviously with our levy vote being so close, every single vote counts.

  61. Actually, everyone who lives in the school district pays property taxes, either directly or via their rent.

    The kinds of taxes a school district can use is set by law. Sales tax isn't one of the options.

  62. everyone who lives in the school district pays property taxes, either directly or via their rent.

    It seems to me the indirect method, paying via rent, would be an insignificant amount given that you're splitting the cost so many ways (given the many residents).

  63. Except multifamily buildings are often more expensive than single family homes. We each pay according to some measure of our wealth, as reflected in our housing costs. A good friend of mine pays $50,000 per year in property taxes and has never had a kid in our schools. Probably seems unfair to him too.

  64. Why is it necessary for each Hilliard HS to have a separate and very costly sports program? I see no reason they couldn't be combined into one Hilliard program. Sure, you can agrue that each school needs its own sports program to give all students and equal opportunity to play sports -- but if the "play to play" options are a long term solution then doesn't this too limit the ability of ALL students to play?

    We raised 3 children in Hilliard, pay $5,000+ in property tax each year, and paid tuition for a private school that our children attended. We have voted yes on many a levy for the Hilliard schools but cannot, with good conscience, support a yes vote with the wreckless spending that is ocurring in this district.

    In order to gain a "yes" vote on a levy from my household the Hilliard School are going to have to make some serious spending cuts and demonstrate that they are fiscally responsible and will continue to be so.

    Don't try to sell me on a levy that is "for the children" or will "save our schools" - I don't need or want your guilt trip. Show me a solid plan for cutting needless spending and maintaining/improving the qualifty of eductation. If this can be done, I.. and I dare say others in the community, will clearly see the benefit - for the children and community at large - and a yes vote on a levy will then, and only then, be an easy and wise decision.

  65. It is the responsibility of the community to fund good schools for all of our children. However, why would anyone want to tack on an additional property tax burden that will never go away. Pay as you go, whether that means for extra curricular activities or a ride to school.

    We all need to learn to do more with less and Hilliard schools is no different. These are tough economic times for everyone.

    We need to be creative. Lets take this opportunity to find a better way to balance and fund the schools budget for the future. We need a new system that will ask those with more children to pay more for education, not a system that may take more tax money from those with no children.

    Lets find a solution

  66. "Don't try to sell me on a levy that is "for the children" or will "save our schools" - I don't need or want your guilt trip."

    Not sure to whom you are addressing this comment, but if look back through the 300+ articles I have written on this blog over the past 5 years, my mission has been to get us away from the emotional appeals and turn the conversation to the real cost drivers.

    That being said, our school district is run the way it is because the voters of our community have wanted it that way. After all, every decision to build a new building or start a new program was approved by the School Board members elected by the people, and the funding was provided by levies approved by voters.

    In particular, we have three high schools because of one key desire - to increase the opportunities for kids to participate in extracurricular activities and leadership opportunities.

    There could have been other solutions, but these were the ones made by the duly elected representatives of the people who sat on the school board when those decisions made. There can't be too much disagreement with their decisions, as Doug Maggied was just re-elected to his 5th term on the Board.

    I've said it many times, and I'll say it again: Spending growth in our school district is driven by the number of people we employ, and what we pay them. If you want the spending to go down, then you have to be advocating for there to be fewer people on the payroll, for them to be paid less, or perhaps both.

    This year, the decision was made that the people didn't want to fund the full budget as proposed, including filling the substantial gap created by the drastic reduction of state funding, then Plan B would be to cut a number of programs and services which are not required by state law, such as high school busing and extracurriculars.

    The spending reduction was to be achieved by laying off a boatload of folks, including 75 teachers, eliminating all the extracurricular coaching and directing positions, and many other cuts yet to be determined.

    Isn't it interesting that the community's reaction to that cut list wasn't to say "Let's save the foreign language teachers," but rather to demand that Plan B include a mechanism for funding extracurriculars entirely with pay-to-participate fees.

    We have some hard work to do in our community. We need to recalibrate our expectations of what the school system will provide above and beyond state minimum requirements to line up with what we're willing to pay for.

    Because it all comes down to how many we employ, and what we pay them.

  67. "Pay as you go, whether that means for extra curricular activities or a ride to school."

    The primary driver of our rising spending has been increases in compensation and benefits for our employees, and that can be addressed only through collective bargaining. The teachers and staff are currently working under contract that freeze their base pay through 2013, and delay the step increases until 2013 as well (one has been eliminated altogether).

    There are those who advocate forcing pay cuts on the teachers and staff. I don't know how they propose such a thing be implemented. Ohio has very strong laws that support organized labor, meaning such things have to be negotiation, and cannot simply be imposed.

    Apparently the people of Ohio are supportive of that, as SB5 was repealed by a 3:2 margin. Even within our school district, 55% of the voters supported the repeal of SB5, and 82% of the 76 precincts in our school district supported the repeal.

    In a way, the practice of putting a levy on the ballot every 3 years is a "pay as you go" approach. There is no big slush fund sitting around to fund employee raises and increased benefits costs. When those costs go up, we need a levy to pay for them.

    This time was a little different, in that we had a ton of state funding taken away. That was a key element of my supporting this levy.

    That means that if the levy ends up failing, we have to roll back our spending to that of a few years ago. The only way to get there is to lay off employees, as their compensation is fixed via their current collective bargaining agreement.

  68. @Paul wrote:
    "In particular, we have three high schools because of one key desire - to increase the opportunities for kids to participate in extracurricular activities and leadership opportunities."

    Bull. We have a third high school because Dale McVey decided that's what he wanted, and never once seriously considered adding to the two existing schools, something that district said it WOULD DO when it pushed building them in the first place.

  69. @Paul wrote:

    "The kinds of taxes a school district can use is set by law. Sales tax isn't one of the options. "

    Maybe the Ohio School Board Association should do something useful for a change and lobby for that...

  70. Nonetheless, the people of the community made the ultimate decision when they voted in support of the substantial bond levy that financed the construction of Bradley.

    After all, the location of the third high school was shifted from the tract on Cosgray to the current location because folks kept voting down the bond levies, ostensibly because of concerns about the amount of traffic which would be generated by having the three high school so close(which I think was a red herring). Yet, once the location was changed, the bond levy passed.

    If the people didn't really want a third high school, all they had to do was keep voting down the bond levies.

  71. Paul. Should I pay twice as much in tax to fund the school budget as my neighbor because my house appraised for twice the amount of his? Wait a minute, they have five children and I have none.

    The system of revenue generation for schools is flawed. If you have more children in school you should pay more for education.

    Bond leveys are great. Just don't force me to buy bonds.

  72. If you want to know how I think schools should be organized and funded, here's what I wrote nearly five years ago, and it's what I continue to believe.

    So what's the chance this will ever happen? Zero unless the people who think similarly quit complaining anonymously on blogs, and start getting engaged in the process.

    The overwhelming defeat of SB5 says the majority of voters support the status quo. Are you ready to help change that?

  73. I got wind tonight that some thought I was censoring comments. I have done that on rare occasion when I have thought a comment is unnecessarily nasty. But it's been a while. I encourage and value respectful debate - it helps me be a better representative of you. I hope also that sometimes it helps you think about perspectives you've not considered.

    The blogging system I use (Blogger) has a built in filter that automatically rejects messages that it thinks are spam. Believe, we get lots of people trying to sell Viagra via blog comments. I'm not sure what criteria it uses - it just happens.

    I don't often check the spam folder, but did so tonight after hearing about a comment not getting published, and I indeed found one there. It was from Jennifer, and she posted it back on 11/10, which is where it appears in the chronological list.

    I'll do better in regard to checking the spam folder, but if you make a comment, and it doesn't appear within a day or two, please email me or post another comment to let me know.

  74. Jennifer: I've lived in the Hilliard community for 32 years now, and am intimately familiar with the roads you're talking about. As I type this, I can look out the window and see Bradley High School, just a few hundred yards from my house. The amount of traffic whizzing by my house is distressing at times. I think maybe the City of Hilliard could balance their budget just by sitting on Roberts and Walker and issuing tickets for speeding and passing on a double line...

    When the cut list was being debated by the Board, I specifically asked the other members to consider taking busing off the cut list, for the exactly the reasons you describe. I don't want to spend the rest of my days driving by one of those makeshift memorials along the side of the road, marking the place where a Hilliard kid died driving to or from school.

    But I lost that argument, and as I said tonight, I learned in the last election that the cut list is viewed by many to be part of the levy proposition, and that a YES vote on the levy indicates a willingness to pay more, while a NO vote indicates that the community accepts and expects the cut list to be implemented in its entirety.

    If the Board of Elections determines that this levy failed, there will almost certainly be a levy on the ballot in the Spring. I expect that it will end up being for a lower millage rate, and accompanied by yet another cut list. We have to do this - the projected revenue stream will not cover the projected spending.

    And just as people have the right to say "NO NEW TAXES," people also have the right to say they would like to see spending increased. They don't have that opportunity unless we put a levy on the ballot and see how it turns out.

    Be sure to weigh in during this process. I'd like to see us have a time for formal hearings, when members of the public can come in tell the Board what they think in regard to the proposed cuts.

    I'd also like to hear your ideas of what should be on the list. Just remember that the things you think are unnecessary may to others be the most important thing we offer.

  75. "I'd also like to hear your ideas of what should be on the list. Just remember that the things you think are unnecessary may to others be the most important thing we offer."

    First I would like to say "thank you" to you and the Board last night for listening to what we had to say about the High School Busing cut. As I stated I do understand where the board has to be regarding cuts after the fact. Unfortunately sometimes, the cuts and what they mean do not hit home until it is too late. As a supporter of the school district, I vote for what I am offered. I did my part and voted in favor of the Levy, and will still hope that until it is official the Levy will pass.

    Paul there are alot of ideas on what could be cut, but is it something the Administration would go for? That is the question, and would they listen?

    I speak for myself, but any time a cut list comes out I feel blackmailed. It is always everything that people want and need on the list. Teachers, extra curriculars, busing, etc. what choice to I have but to vote yes, I have kids in the district that those cuts directly impact. As a supporter it is very frustrating and maddening.

    Alot of the people who I know voted "NO" on the levy want to see meaningful and resposible cuts. The supporters of the Levy want to see meaningful and resposible cuts, as obviously the district cannot maintain forever when a levy passes. But, would everyone agree on what those things would be? I don't know, and I really don't envy the decision makers who make the call.

    However sometimes there does seem to be things that are excessive, and the question "Why" does present itself.

    For instance, why are there 10 Assistant Prinicpals spread over 3 High Schools? There are 4 at Davidson and 3 each at Bradley and Darby. I would like an understanding of what exactly an Assistant Principal does, and why we need so many? My experience in High School was I graduated in a class of close to 600 students, there were well over 2,000 students in my High Scool...we had one Principal and one Vice Principal.

    On the website: Ohio Citizens Accounting Standards Board, I was able to find 4 salaries of the 10 Assistant Principals. They totaled over $306,895. We were looking for something to total the $494,000 that High School busing costs, and it seems to me we would have gotten close if we could have known 3 more salaries. I was totaling for 7 as that would allow one Assistant Principal per school. With that though, I really wanted to find something that wasn't "jobs". But with the budget and the way it is broken out it seems as though really that is the only way you have to look for anything.
    I suppose the Public and Private sectors really don't differ that much in that regard.

    I too will be curious what people feel would be appropriate cuts. I also think it is very easy for everyone to say "Yes" or "No" to a levy, but when faced with trying to come up with a solution that proves to be harder.

  76. Jennifer, a very good presentation last night at the board meeting.I t is important that more citizens express their thoughts and suggestions to our District. Thank you

    Your notes signify that one can go absolutely ballistic with this bare bones crap we hear about when you cite the assitant principal scenario. Add in supplemental contracts that are totally over the top and not to mention the citizens pay a significant amount of money toward the salary of the President of the HEA (Why) and you have your 494,000

    And contrary to the levy campaign adv. about "the schools have allways been the communities schools" rings hollow as we all know who controls our schools,,, the special interests who have tons of money to support board candidates, levies, etc.

    Had we used just a little financial commons sense
    we could have started saving 10 years ago knowing the
    business PPT tax wasgoing to go away, but the leadership continued to hand out increases in compensation and benefits and not following board policy in have a rainy day fund.

    We continue to take the easy way out, and go back
    to the time honored treasure of at first you fail you keep going back for more money instead of really addressing some of our spending priorities.

    If it is really about the kids, REALLY, then why not save some compensation dollars which is almost 90% of our budget, by using and getting agreement from all the special interest groups
    furlough days, ( Understand that apparrently this was suggested by a group and NO response from the administration) or better yet with our 5 day snow day level, why simply not pay employees who dont have to work at school on those days. Guess what if in the private sector, you dont show up because of snow, you dont get paid.

    Why not look immediatly ( contracts can allways be reopened IF it is really about the kids)
    at the medical contribution 50.00 a month (Really ?) or how about some retirement contribution by the admin. staff.
    OH the ideas, simply understand THIS SHORT TERM
    while we try and move out of this economic
    challenging time

    We can do this without layoffs if we allow ourselves to change the paradigm. Those of us in the private sector workplace have experienced first hand the givebacks

    Paul, I hear you on what different people
    think about what is important. However, what is consistent and must be changed, is our spending priorities as it relates to real education, and not this bare bone threat crap We spend 160 mill

    Lastly, should the levy fail, and at this juncture the scenario is good that it will pass however, the ink is not yet dry and we are allready looking at March for another attempt.
    So I guess the new education we are teaching our kids is that no still means yes, and so why not
    simply avoid the taxpayer expense of conducting
    an election and simply impose whatever the district wants to. So true democracy goes out of
    the window.

    So instead of cute little photo ops with our State Rep, why not have a true community forum
    ( Not those stupid note cards to weed out the tough questions please) and invite every central ohio legislator to come and tell them to get otheir...... and today start a new program on school funding. It can start with multiple buying purchases, consolidation of school distrcts
    administraion, a true look at our remediation
    issue with our schools, and get away from this regressive property tax issue and utilize state funds from a sales tax increase, income tax increase, and take a hard look at all the
    TIF, tax abatements, etc that take revenue from our schools. They have put this off forever, and only if we have a tough reelection talk with them now, we can help move things forward or next November send the non compliant on their way to the unemployment line.

  77. "Paul there are alot of ideas on what could be cut, but is it something the Administration would go for? That is the question, and would they listen?"

    While the Administration brings the recommendation to the Board as to what should be on the cut list, the final decision lies with the Board. The Board will listen to the people - and there will almost always be conflicting viewpoints from the public - before making its final decision. But the people have to speak up. That's the reason there was a Pay-to-Participate option on this cut list - because there was a great deal of public outcry for such a thing (vs cutting extracurriculars altogether).

    "For instance, why are there 10 Assistant Prinicpals spread over 3 High Schools? There are 4 at Davidson and 3 each at Bradley and Darby. I would like an understanding of what exactly an Assistant Principal does, and why we need so many?"

    This is a question that comes up quite often, and I don't know the answer. But then there are lots of positions which exist in our school district whose purpose I cannot describe.

    This brings up the role of the school board. I've served on governing boards of a number of for-profit and non-profit organizations. I believe a governing board has just a few responsibilities, but they are significant:

    1. To determine the strategic mission of the organization - what are we going to get done?

    2. To hire, monitor and evaluate the executive team who will be assigned to carry out the mission. In the case of the school board, that means the Superintendent and the Treasurer.

    3. To define the constraints in which these executives are to operate. This is done through two primary vehicles: the budget and the body of policies.

    This last one is often a bone of contention between boards and superintendents. Since board members are elected for four year terms, they tend to come and go, causing some superintendents understandably to view them as amateurs who ride in and mess with the professionals. In the movie MacArthur, General Douglas MacArthur is in the middle of his battle with President Truman over who gets to set political policy in the Far East. MacArthur says to an aide: "My ability to do my job would be so much easier if I didn't have to deal with these temporary residents of the White House." I think some superintendents believe that as well. I think our country's Founders were wise to ensure that the professional soldiers were subordinate to the elected civilian leadership.

    But there are also Boards who fail to understand their roles as well, and insist on micromanaging the executive team. Sometimes the public does elect kooks who are more disruptive than contributory.

    The effective balance is somewhere in the middle: a) the board articulates what it wants, then monitors that the executive team is carrying this out within budgetary and policy limits (which requires being observant and asking tough questions at times); and, b) the superintendent accepts that it is the board which is in charge, is responsive to the board's decisions, and keeps the board well-informed as to progress toward goals.

    That's a long answer to the question about asst principals. The reason that I don't know the answer is that it's the superintendent's call. We give him goals and a budget. If he thinks the most effective way to spend those dollars is on asst superintendents, then we need to respect that. If our budget belt needs to be tightened, then it's up to the superintendent to determine whether these jobs need to be modified or eliminated, or cuts should be made somewhere else.

    Lots of people have your question about the asst principals. So we should get an answer.

    Thanks for the dialog.

  78. Paul,
    In regard to your statements:

    This is a question that comes up quite often, and I don't know the answer. But then there are lots of positions which exist in our school district whose purpose I cannot describe

    I really have to ask, if this question has come up often, why don't we have an answer? I am sure someone, somewhere has a list of job duties and requirements for this position (and if someone doesn't, how were the positions ever filled?). Furthermore, I would hope a list of duties and requirements for every position within our school is available. Again, how did anyone get hired if no one knows what the job is? I personally feel all that information should be available at the click of a mouse, or at least as a response to an email request.
    When you state that the question has come up, not just before now, but OFTEN, and still there is no answer I again feel that our district prefers people to be ignorant.
    Perhaps our "generals" would find life easier if they helped us understand! As I have said before, maybe some of us who are so frustrated with decisions would actually be on their side if we had this information.

  79. Paul, I would like to reply to some of the comments that you made at the end of the meeting. I understand that there was some backlash about planned cuts being restored last time but I really hope that you do not feel that kudos were not received. All of us that fought, many others that were more silent supporters, and many, many students appreciate that the board listened and that the contract renegotiation enabled the admin and board to readdress the cuts and reinstate some of them. I hope that the large participation in the Athletics Sustainability Committee also shows that the community cares and tried to come up with a solution other than cut.

    That leads to some of our frustration as well though. We as voters are not given the luxury of voting the individual line items. Of course, that would never work because as mentioned different things are important to different voters. And that is why we select a board to handle the more 'micromanaging' type things for the community. I would LOVE to see the administration present the board with more of a menu of cuts rather than a single list. Of course, the administration could and should have recommendations of the preferred items on that menu but the board would have the ability to really look at multiple options and costs. That may have led to the increase in pay-to-participate being an original option instead of one that required much outcry and changes. And it may have led to high school busing not being on the list this time.

    And now to the high school busing. I know that some of the community as well as you and Mr. Lundregan expressed concerns about that item being on the list. But it was included and the community was told if you don't like it than vote for the levy. Now we are in limbo and I am honestly concerned about the safety of our students. You mentioned at last night's meeting that only a small subset of the high school population rides the bus but I hope that you realize that cutting busing affects more than just that subset. Every student at the high schools and nearby schools will be affected by the increased traffic as well as the neighboring communities as you can relate. I do not have a student in high school but I do have a middle schooler who will be on the roads at the same time and the increased traffic concerns me. Someone at the meeting last night suggested raising the cost of parking permits at the high school to cover the busing budget. Studies show that riding a bus is the safest mode of transportation and ideally we should be encouraging it instead of cutting it. Another parent in the audience commented that there is already not enough parking at Darby to accommodate the students and wondered where the additional vehicles expect to park.

    I had the chance to talk with Mr. Harrington (I believe) who spoke last night. If I understood correctly, he suggested that much of the savings from the busing cut can simply be met by not filling the open positions as the current staff is handling the current routes including the high schools. He also had a very valid point that the high school busing was not on the previous cut list which was supposed to cover the budget for this school year. You replied about the state budget and funding being different than expected but other things have changed as well such as the contract renegotiation and now higher pay-to-particpate fees for extracurricular activities. Can you clarify if the state differences were transportation specific?

    Thank you.

  80. Heather:

    It would be a mistake to believe individual Board members have a line item veto in the process either. We can discuss and debate what gets put on the list, but in the end, have to vote Yea/Nay on a single list, just as does the public when the levy is put on the ballot.

    This cut list process we, and most other districts use isn't specified in law. It's not even a matter of local policy. It's simply a process which has developed over time to help frame a levy proposition. You, Mike Harrold, and other have made some good suggestions about how this process could be done differently, and I'll bring this up to the Board.

    Yes, the gentleman you spoke to was Mark Harrington, who in addition to being a resident of our community and a parent, is also the President of our support staff union. So when he speaks out in opposition of the cutting of busing, part of that is in his role as head of the union local which represents the bus drivers. I have no beef with him doing that - he members expect him to advocate on behalf of their jobs.

    His point about the budget was that we had a cut list in the Spring that didn't include high school busing, so if high school busing was funded then, why not now?

    My response to him was that in the Spring we were guessing as to what our state funding would be for the next few years, and now we have a better picture (it can still change in the next state budget). So we can't say what was funded then, and what is funded now because the revenue projections are different.

    The temporary school funding model used for the current state budget was the mathematical and political opposite of the Strickland Evidence Based Model. While the EBM specified the number of teachers, staff and administrators that would be funded, and at what pay levels, the Kasich temporary model pretty much just says that you'll get x% of what you got last year, with a few modifiers.

    There are many things we must provide and fund to be compliant with state law. High school busing isn't one of them. I didn't like having it on the cut list, but I was in the minority. That's the way democracy works, and I accept the outcome of the vote.

    The people have had a chance to speak at the ballot box. We just don't know what they've said yet. If we learn that this levy was defeated, our next decision will be whether to put another levy on the ballot in the Spring, how large it will be, whether we're going to propose restoring anything that was cut with the failure of this levy, and what else might appear on the cut list associated with the proposed levy.

    It's an clumsy way to get things done, but it's what we have. As Winston Churchill supposedly said, "democracy is the worst form of government, except for everything else."

  81. Erika: The is indeed a set of job descriptions for administrative positions, and I've looked a few of them.

    At the risk of adding fuel to the fire, you should know that there are two other job titles, Student Services Coordinator and Student Program Coordinator, which require a Principal's license and are paid similarly to Asst Principals. I know this because when these jobs were created (prior to my being elected to the Board), I asked for the job descriptions.

    A number of significant organizational changes have been made by the Superintendent since I wrote that note in 2009, including I believe a reduction in the number of high school administrators. Are we to where we need to get to yet? That's a matter of perspective and opinion.

    And as I said in a comment above, it's the Superintendent's call how to deploy administrative resources, in consultation with the Board.

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

  83. To the Anon whose comment I just deleted: as I've said many times before, I'll not release comments containing personal attacks.

  84. I received an email from Memorial that the Board of Elections is going to certify on Tuesday at 3. Any word, official or otherwise, on the final count?

  85. Received an unofficial e-mail that after provisionals and last-minute absentees, the levy is ahead by 240+ votes. Can you confirm?

  86. So just got the word - levy passed by enough to not force a recount. From Dale McVeigh:
    "After weeks of anticipation, I am thankful to share with you that Issue 17 – the district’s 5.9-mill operating levy – was approved by voters. The final certified results show 15,214 voters supporting Hilliard City Schools and no recount will be necessary."
    Nice propaganda press release that totally ignores the 15,004 NO votes. If I were a journalism teacher, that press release would get an "F".
    And, I hope the staff enjoys the 5 day weekend that they arranged by having tomorrow off. I worked late one night last week too, but I'll still be in tomorrow.

  87. Levy passed by 210 votes.

    Now we get to watch the district squander our money again.

    This time, I hope the A&A Committee is actually watching. Not only do I not believe we'll meet the financial markers they want to see, I don't for a minute believe that the district and board will actually put them in place.

    Now... go prove me wrong.

  88. STJ: My understanding is that the final margin was 218 votes, enough such that a recount isn't needed.

  89. Somewhat strange that the margin of passage was mysteriously left out of the press release even though it didn't matter.

  90. Open wallet and give contents to union hacks. What a wonderful country.

  91. I'd like to know why all of the cuts are off the board now that the levy has passed, doesn't this set us up for another levy in 2-3 years? I find it very upsetting that the district is either in full cut mode or same as always mode, where are the partial cuts to help the situation?

  92. I'm beginning to wonder if it cost effective to oppose a levy, vs just passing it on the first try.

    Considering the average amount of time between a successful levy and the next levy campaign (measured in years) vs the average time between a failed levy and the next levy campaign (measured in months)...

    Considering the costs of running a levy campaign...

    And considering the cost of uncertainty that is reflected in the district's borrowing costs...

    I wonder if a district whose voters pass levies every time is actually paying less for its schools...

  93. Hopefully, we can keep a civil dialogue going on this blog. I've seen some comments elsewhere and some of them are pretty ugly.

    As a "yes" voter, I'll readily admit that this was certainly not a mandate. Our residents (or at least those who cared enough to vote) are truly split down the middle. The district leadership needs to consider the results of the election thoughtfully, and hopefully they will.

  94. Anonymous at 3:32,
    Teachers worked a heck of a lot more than one late night last week. You don't complete progress reports, as well as, prepare for and hold 25 conferences in one night. 24 twenty minute conferences requires 8 hours. That's on top of conference preparation, report cards, and their regular duties of planning, grading, meetings, professional development, etc. that are done outside of their teaching day.

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

  96. After living most of my life in Hilliard, I am now forced to put my house up for sale, probably at a loss, in order to leave Hilliard. I am on a fixed income and because of the never ending tax levies, I can no longer afford to pay taxes on my home. The school board should look for an alternative to property tax increases for future school levies to prevent this from happening to other people. I wouldn't feel so bad about losing my home if I knew the tax money was actually used for the children instead of increased compensation and benefits for union employees.

  97. Take your kids to a different school district if you don't value the education they receive in Hilliard. The teachers and administrative staff took a freeze for multiple years to help with the passage of the levy. They did their part too.

  98. Yeah the levy passed, now I can pay $50 a month more of money I don't have so the union crooks and overpaid administrators can line their pockets with our money while working together on the next levy. This greed and corruption needs to end we can no longer afford it.

  99. Go to and enter a teachers name and look at their salary increases and total compensation of the last 5 years. Then compare their increases to yours and your neighbors. Then ask yourself with respect to pay increases whether or not they are part of the 99%.

  100. As I have said many times, when the districts salaries and benefits are growing at such a rapid pace, something needs to be cut now or we will be in the same boat in 2 years. Why are all the cuts now off the table? Why can't we cut a few positions and keep sports pay to play?

  101. Can anyone tell me where, in Columbus, you can make $100k for 10 months of work? Doctors, lawyers, and hmmmm teachers?? The problem is, the former require much more education and they work all year round.
    I'm puzzled by the levy vote. All income brackets should be offended with this type of compensation. And lets not forget, they pay next to nothing for major medical procedures such as surgery, child birth, etc... I personally know someone who paid $5 for the birth of their child.

  102. Just as I expected, despite barely passing, all the cuts are now off the table and it's all ahead full speed. The junkies are wiping their brows saying "Whew, dodged a bullet there." They just got a fix and they're off to the races to spend, spend, spend it all. Nothing will be done to slow the rate of cost growth that is unsustainable. By this time next year, there'll be a press release that we'll need a levy in 2013. A 7 mill levy will be on the ballot in March 2013. It will fail, the threats will come, the next levy will drop the millage by 1.1%, it'll pass by the skin of its teeth and we'll do it all over again. Paul and board, prove me wrong.

  103. BV:

    As I've been writing for years, the primary driver of cost in our district is our personnel costs, which is a function of how many folks we employee and what we pay them.

    Our teachers this year agreed to a three year contract that freezes base pay through 2013, delays the 2011 and 2012 step increases to 2013, and eliminate the 2013 step increase altogether, and have agreed to contribute another 5% to their share of health insurance costs (making it 15%).

    They also agreed to an early-retirement deal which will allow our top-paid teachers to be replaced with new teachers, who will be paid less than half what the retiring teachers will be paid, offsetting the cost of the retirement bonus in just one year.

    The Board has committed to staying off the ballot until at least 2014. Another dramatic reduction in State funding may cause us to revisit that, but I hope that is not the case.

    Our rate of spending growth will be determined by two things: a) the rate in which the student population increases; and, b) the contract negotiated with the unions in 2013.

    On the first point, please note that Schottensteins is building a large number of high-end apartments at the corner of Roberts and Alton-Darby, the kind of apartments that will attract young families looking for a good school district, but not ready to jump into purchasing a home. Across the street, Homewood Homes is preparing their land to do the same, I suspect. Ask Mayor Schonhardt why building more apartments is a good thing for the city or the schools...

    As for the next teachers' contract, the people of this community need to be informed and engaged in that conversation. That's one of the key things I try to do with this blog.

  104. Mike: Let's see.... Rick Nash?

  105. Rick Nash - now that's funny! But that is comparing apples to oranges.
    Most won't argue that professional athletes are overpaid; at the same time those athletes have invested countless hours/days/weeks/months/years in pursuit of their craft, and to play at their level means they are among the very best in the world, and they must prove it day in and day out. As well, we have an individual choice whether we want to support them. As an original PSL and season ticket holder of the Jackets, I made that choice, and for the last few years, have chosen to NOT support them with my money, as I didn't think their "product" was worth it.
    Schools are an entirely different matter. The majority rules as to how well we support them, and in this case it was a very slim majority. So there are a ton of folks not very happy right now. Seems many don't think we are getting our moneys worth, particularly from the teachers. Given that the teachers agreed to the leanest contract in my 20 years in the HCSD, I'm thinking that way too many folks are still uninformed. I am certainly not the biggest defender of teachers but I can admit when they have made an effort and I think they have. We cannot undo 20 years of mismanagement - most of us ignored it while it was happening until it reached crisis stage. There remains many steps to be taken to fix our budget problems; at the same time, to expect no more levies, ever again, is pretty unrealistic. The trick is in convincing folks that their "investment" is worth it.

  106. Mike: I would also say to you that the vast majority of our very dedicated staff spend the vast majority of their summer working on professional development and preparation for the upcoming school year (even if they have been teaching for years). This over simplification of a school staffs work schedule just infuriates me. Do you actually think, also, that during the school year they work typical 8 hours days? I am not a teacher yet extremely involved in supporting the wonderful programs provided throughout our district. I can provide example after example or the number of "summer" hours I have personally been at the school with a teacher working on a variety of things. It just makes me crazy the oversimplification of some on this blog (and elsewhere) and the VERY selective quotes and information sited. I will say, however, I agree with STJ's post earlier that at least "most" on this blog are civil in the presentation.

  107. So, if I live in an apartment, I'm unwelcome in Hilliard? Thanks. My husband is completeing is DDS program at Ohio State and I work as well. we want our daughter to attend decent schools, so we moved to Hilliard. And then I read that 'apartments' are not a good idea fro HILLIARD. who do you people think you are? if we could have afforded it, we would have moved to Upper Arlington or grandview, so stop thinking you are the best place to live in Columbus. yes, better than Columbus City Schools and the best we can afford, but you aren't above 'apartments'. Lisa A.

  108. @paul wrote:

    Our rate of spending growth will be determined by two things: a) the rate in which the student population increases; and, b) the contract negotiated with the unions in 2013.


    Let's be honest with everyone. Student enrollment has nothing to do with it.

    Between 2005 and 2011, the district increased enrollment by between 6 and 7%.

    Meanwhile, expenses increased 28%.

    So, let's put point (a) in tiny font, and point (b) is massive double font, bolded, italicized and underlined.

    Just so everyone knows where the problem is.

  109. @Anon@7:27

    Teachers get comp days for parent teacher conferences...

  110. Anon re apartments: Sorry for not being clearer on this point. My beef isn't with the folks who choose to live in apartments in our community, it's that no new housing should be developed without consideration of the financial impact on the schools.

    In FY10, we spent $11,475/kid to run our school district. Of that, $3,741 was funded by the State of Ohio. The other $7,734 has to be raised locally. Many people think their own property taxes cover this, but a dwelling has to be appraised for about $300,000 to generate that much income tax.

    So the cost of additional kids in our district is underwritten in part by all the other taxpayers in the community. That's okay if new commercial development goes up at the same rate as new residential development, as it means the new businesses are shouldering a good chunk of that burden.

    But when only housing is being built, the 'other taxpayers' means the existing homeowners and businesses. My taxes and your rent goes up every time a new dwelling is built that brings school age kids.

    By the way, Mayor Schonhardt and the Hilliard City Council promised the School Board that all that new multi-family housing I mentioned was going to be condos for empty nesters, like the Tremont Club development on Davidson Rd. With that promise, the School Board withdrew its objects to the TIF granted to Schottenstein Homes. A TIF is a strange mechanism under the law that allows municipalities to redirect property taxes - mostly school taxes - toward infrastructure investments. In this case, the TIF used school district money to fund the cost of the new Roberts Rd connector. Since these units were supposed to be for empty nesters, we - the School Board - felt okay with the redirection of resources since there would be no new kids.

    Since then, this property has been redefined as apartments for all ages, attracting folks like you who want to have kids in our school district. Again, no slam on you - welcome to our community. But at least the school district should be getting all the property taxes due it to help cover the cost of all the new kids who are going to show up at our doors.

    Not paying for roads...

  111. When watching the teachers protest SB5 on television, I heard several of them compare themselves and their education to doctors and lawyers. My daughter is a doctor of veterinary medicine, and just for the record, she spent eight years at Ohio State followed by a one-year internship at an out-of-state university. She earns less than the average elementary school teacher at Hilliard Crossing. She has no paid sick days, pays 100% of her medical insurance, and has no retirement other than her personal savings. She regrets not becoming a teacher!

  112. M,
    I understand that the teachers got a comp day. I was responding to a post by anonymous at 3:32 yesterday who said teachers " arranged a 5 day weekend" because they worked late one night. The writer seemed to be under the impression that the teachers worked a couple hours extra and got a day off. I was attempting to help him understand that it takes much more than 8 hours to prepare for and hold conferences with 25 sets of parents.

  113. Regretful: I understand your point - our youngest is a newly minted MD, in her first year of residency. Like your daughter, she had to take a very tough curriculum in college and get top grades just to have a shot at getting into medical school. Then she had to not only perform well academically, but she also had to pass a series of tough Board exams in order to graduate. She has three more years of residency, and three more comprehensive exams ahead of her before she becomes certified to practice in her chosen field.

    After spending a ton on her eight years of education, she now must work 80 hours/week for 48 weeks/yr. That makes her comp come out to about $13/hr.

    She didn't go into medicine for the money, although I'm sure her expectation is that at some point, she'll have a decent income.

    Your daughter's case may illustrate a point I've been saying for years - the counseling our kids get as to college majors doesn't seem to prepare them adequately for the realities of the job market. Getting a DVM is very hard work.

    There may be some DVMs that make a lot of money, but it's really a retail game for most, competing for customers with every other DVM trying make a living. Vet schools should make sure their applicants fully understand this - that there might be too many DVMs out there for them all to make good money. But the vet schools aren't motivated to do so - their win comes simply from acquiring students and charging a boatload of tuition.

    Similar conversations should happen with all the kids who want to go into teaching. We can look at the pay grid for our teachers, or the teachers in any other district around here, and observe that they make pretty decent money once they get a few years into their careers.

    But that ignores the fact that we have literally hundreds of applicants for each new job, and an army of newly graduated education majors every year with slim chances of getting a job.

    Meanwhile, the Colleges of Education are doing just fine thank you, charging ever increasing tuition to all those kids, who will be paying off student loans for years.

    Microeconomics teaches us that when there is a glut of supply and limited demand, prices should fall. That's certainly what has happened in your daughter's field, and many others.

    Why not in teaching?

    Clearly, the answer to that is that it is because public school teachers bargain collectively via their unions.

    The law says we have to fund and operate public schools, meaning we have to hire and retain teachers. And its our only option for extracting value for the dollars we pay to operate the schools. So we have to come to some agreement with the teachers' union or they can threaten to go on strike and withhold services that we've already paid for.

    I think eventually one of these two things have to change: either the authority of public school teachers to bargain collective has to be eliminated; or taxpayers have be granted the freedom to take their tax dollars and spend them in any accredited school, public or not.

    In the private sector, unions can directly benefit from the successes of the company (by demanding that the employer share more of the profits with the union members), but they also have to absorb some of the hit (via layoffs and/or concessions) if customers go elsewhere to satisfy their need for a service. Ask airline union workers how this works. The days of the rich airline pilots are pretty much over.

    Passing this levy buys us time to have deeper, more sophisticated conversations about the economics of our school district.

    Let's not waste it.

  114. @Paul: Oh come on... that's not even remotely humorous. Rick Nash is a one in a million talent and generates more income than he's paid. If the Blue Jackets can't afford him, he'll go elsewhere. He doesn't collectively bargain with all his team mates forcing the Blue Jackets to pay more than they can afford and therefore forcing ticket prices to increase pushing costs onto the consumer. When people can't afford to watch hockey anymore, prices will drop. Just ask the NBA.