Friday, November 25, 2011

School Choice and HB136

HB136 is currently working its way through the Ohio General Assembly.  This Bill creates the "Parental Choice and Taxpayer Savings Scholarship Program," also known as PACT. The core purpose of this legislation is to allow parents to redirect the money the State of Ohio sends to the local public school districts to properly approved private schools.

Some school boards have recently chosen to pass resolutions in opposition to HB136.  The Ohio School Boards Association, of which our School Board is a member, is lobbying in opposition to HB136.

I recently read through the Bill Analysis, prepared by the Ohio Legislative Services Commission, a body appointed by the General Assembly to render non-partisan, independent views on proposed legislation. The general notion of this legislation seems pretty good to me. And I can't believe what I believe about the importance of free markets and competition, or write what I have written about school choice, and be opposed to the principles of this Bill.

But it still needs some work. My friend Marc Schare, who is also current President of the Worthington School Board, submitted written testimony to the House back in April. I agree with much of what he said.

The Bill in its current form specifies that parents could apply to have up to $4,563* subtracted from the funding their local school district gets from the State and redirected to a scholarship account which could in turn be used to pay tuition and other expenses to an approved non-public school. The intention is that the school district would retain all the funds it raises from local sources - primarily homeowners and businesses - but that the money provided by the State could be used to pay tuition at a private school.

The problem, as Mr. Schare points out in his testimony, is that not all school districts receive $4,563 per student from the State. The amount of funding a school district receives from the State is determined to a large degree by the affluence of a community, as measured in terms of property value. By this measure, we are a fairly affluent community, and consequently our State funding was reduced to $3,741 per student in FY2010 (see CUPP Report produced by the Ohio Dept of Education).

This means that if a student were to take $4,563 with him to a private school, we would have to send along the $3,741 of State funding we receive, plus $822 that we have raised locally through tax levies.

Mr. Schare says this is inappropriate because the people of the community voted to be taxed that amount of money in order to fund their public school district, not to have it diverted to a private school.

I see his point, and agree somewhat. But here's where one's perspective is important.

From the perspective of folks with kids in the public school system, this sounds like their money is being taken away to subsidize kids in the non-public schools. From a practical standpoint, one of the more significant challenges with HB136 is that it allows PACT money to be withdrawn for students already attending non-public schools. So if we have 1,000 kids in our community currently attending non-public schools (I don't know the real number), it means we aren't currently allocating any resources to educate those kids, but we could still have as much as $4.6 million of our State funding diverted. Same number of kids, $4.6 million less funding. That's equivalent to about 50 teachers.

But from the perspective of the folks with kids in non-public schools, it means an end to having their tax dollars being taken to fund the public schools their kids don't attend. This has always been an issue with the families who send their kids to the Catholic schools for example - they feel like they're paying for both the public schools and their parochial schools. For these folks, HB136 seems pretty fair.

We also have to remember that it's unlikely that any of the votes taken to approve public school levies were unanimous. There might have been a fair number of people in the community who voted to NOT send additional funds to the public school district, but are required to do so anyway because the majority dictates to the minority when it comes to levies.

I recognize that this argument stands on shaky ground. The rule of our democracy is that the majority wins, even when the margin of victory is only one vote. This is one of the challenges of democratic capitalism - knowing when to let individual choices and appropriately regulated markets determine how resources are allocated, and when we should allow majority-wins elections to decide the outcome for all.

I prefer the former whenever practical.

That's my core reason for saying what I did in Food Stamps - that we should operate our schools like we do our food distribution system. Our society has set up a food production and distribution system which is the envy of the world, and one of the key drivers is the ability for any shopper to buy whatever food they want, wherever they want, and at whatever price they find acceptable. The competition for customers drives producers and retailers to create fantastic choices at prices the market will bear.

But instead we fund our schools like the Soviets ran their food distribution network - government control of what was produced and in what quantity, and where it was distributed. Their food may have been free or nearly free, but there were massive shortages and the food was generally of poor quality (no, I'm not saying our school district is of poor quality - we all know it's quite the opposite). And of course the black market thrived, but only for those with the means. The majority of the population just had to suffer.

We think food is a pretty important component of life, so for those who can't afford to buy sufficient food, we provide a taxpayer-funded public assistance program we call "food stamps," even through the little books of coupons haven't existed for a number of years.

We could organize our education system in the same way - most people would pay tuition to the institution in which they wish to enroll their kids during the years they were in school, and otherwise be off the hook. For those who can't afford a "thorough and efficient" education, as required by the Ohio Constitution, we would have a tax-funded scholarship program, akin to food stamps. No one who wants it would go without an education.

I recognize that such a radical shift in thinking is not in the cards, at least not for the near future. HB136 has some good ideas, but has not been sufficiently thought through, as was the case with SB5. It will further stress the public school districts without having practical, workable solutions to the real problems it will create.

* The actual amount of the scholarship available to a student is reduced as family income increases. The full $4,563 is available only to families whose combined income is less than 278% of the Federal Poverty Level,. For a family of four, this means the full scholarship amount is available only if the combined family income is less than $62,000.  No scholarship money is available when the combined family income is more than $95,000, so this isn't a way to help pay the tuition for rich kids at expensive private schools.


  1. Paul, you said, "But from the perspective of the folks with kids in non-public schools, it means an end to having their tax dollars being taken to fund the public schools their kids don't attend."

    Seriously? So, according to this argument, if you are rich enough to buy all brand new books and don't like books other people have touched you shouldn't pay for libraries either, I guess. Or, if you've got a nice big yard you shouldn't pay for public parks. If you drive everywhere you shouldn't pay for sidewalks or bike paths that others use? I believe we all benefit from strong public schools whether we have children who attend them or not.
    There are so many things wrong with HB136. But, here's a big one. Through this bill the government is actually paying people to take their children out of public schools. The tuition at a local private school is $3,275 at year. HB136 allows parents to take the extra $1,288 and credit it to an education savings account to be used for future primary, secondary, and post-secondary education. Wow! So, by the time a child attends the private school, K-8, the parents will have collected $11,592 for their child's high school or college education. And, soon, private schools will be the only places that a child can receive art, music, physical education, and extra -curricular activities. Also, no yearly OAA test to worry about because private school students don't have to take them in elementary school. Why would anyone possibly leave a child in public schools when they can actually make money by sending them to private schools? Of course, the private school may decide not to take a child because they aren't quite talented enough academically or athletically.
    It looks like we're heading back to the early 1700's to me. Isn't anyone else alarmed by this?
    “All who have meditated on the art of governing mankind have been convinced that the fate of empires depends on the education of youth.” - Aristotle

  2. The Bill Analysis I referenced above states that kids attending non-public schools under PACT scholarships will still have to take the state achievement tests, and that test data must be posted on the website of the Ohio Dept of Ed. So I think you are wrong on that fact.

    As I said, many of these things are a matter of perspective. You say "the government is actually paying people to take their children out of public schools." Others, including me, might say that this allows people to take their own money and spend it in the school they believe serves their children best.

    And if that non-public school happens to be able to deliver a K-12 education for less than the State portion of funding currently allocated to the public schools, what's wrong with allowing the difference to be applied to post-secondary education?

    But think again about what you are positing: that a private school could provide a "thorough and efficient" education (the constitutional standard) to a kid for $3,275/yr when here in Hilliard City Schools, we spend $11,475 - 3.5 times as much.

    I've not said education should only be available to those who can afford it. On the contrary, I put education at the same level of priority as food, and believe that all should have access to both food and education, using tax-funded public assistance when needed.

    I think the point that non-public schools might "skim the cream" is a valid one, and is not adequately addressed in this Bill. I've proposed that schools who take on disabled kids, or kids on IEPs be given extra funding, akin to the way the ADM mechanism works.

    I think you have to be careful quoting Aristotle. He also said the following, which implies that the 'youth' he spoke of in your quotation did not include everyone:

    "we see what is the nature and office of a slave; he who is by nature not his own but another's man, is by nature a slave; and he may be said to be another's man who, being a human being, is also a possession."

  3. Paul -

    The "food stamps" idea is interesting. I certainly see a couple of sticking points, but it's a very interesting idea to mull over -- largely because of the built-in "food" analogy.

    For instance, while we use food stamps to give everyone a *chance* to buy food, we don't have a Constitution that mandates that people eat a balanced diet, which is what we've got for education. Consider how we measure a "thorough and efficient" education, though. Test scores notwithstanding, I believe the most tangible measure of whether a we've met our constitutional obligation with respect to any specific child is non-truancy. That is to say, as long as we've got records that any given kid has been at school a certain number of days, we've met our obligation, whether that child passes or fails, or whether he or she eventually drops out. We can make a reasonably legitimate claim that this child had a chance to receive a "thorough and efficient" education.

    We go on to measure the performance of schools, of course, and we take measures to improve schools that lag sufficiently far behind others. That's sort of like saying that the average Giant Eagle shopper has plenty to eat -- it says nothing about any specific shopper.

    Food stamps also let a shopper have a considerable latitude over how these dollars are spent, but only within a framework mandated by the government. We can exclude alcohol, for instance, but we can't make someone spend their food stamps on broccoli instead of twinkies. If the government *really* wants people to buy broccoli, they can subsidize it, and maybe even tax the twinkies, so they've certainly got influence over those choices, but no direct control. In the same way, we'd expect someone to be able to spend their "education stamps" any way they'd like, as long as they're buying a service that meets the minimum requirements set forth by law. That sounds pretty good.

    I'd love to see a model where not only could parents decide which schools to attend, but they could also have some input into the curriculum and class environment. My bias in this is that I'm a pretty well-informed parent who's active in my son's education, and I understand that not all parents are going to invest that kind of time or energy in their kids' education. There are also food stamp shoppers who buy a lot of twinkies.

    So the implication here is that greater choice not only empowers good choices, it also empowers poor choices (though only as poor as the minimum allowed by law). I think I'm ok with that, but it's worth contemplating.

  4. Interesting, I wasn't aware that a school choice bill was under consideration.

    In the system we have now, only the affluent truly have choice in educating their kids. Those who can afford to live in a good district (almost always more expensive) or who can afford tuition in addition to their taxes. The poor have no choice, and typically end up in the worst schools.

    Society has an interest in an educated population, so public funding doesn't bother me. What does is limited choice. There are real problems with the bill (as you've pointed out0, but I'm happy to see it up for debate.

  5. Paul, while in present form this bill has a number of issues, just the existence of this piece of legislation might move the communication needle forward not just in our district but across the state as well.

    The points you and Marc Share, who like you is what our boards should be doing, not just cowtowing to the special interest groups currently controling our public schools and publicly getting involved at the state level.

    The point of this legislation is the freedom for parents, grandparents, guardians, et al
    to make informed decisions about the educational
    welfare of their families. And it helps not just the rich kids, (a typical myth of the schools)but places a limit as noted

    I doubt highly that in most cases you will see a flock of students going out of district. There are schedules, friendships, course offering, yes athletics at public schools,
    and the desire for a traditional public education. It tells me that the special interests have fear that a parent and a community can once again have control of their schools, not the heirarchy who have shut out the ability for parents to protect their kids

    It also assumes that one if they took advantage of the program would automatically vote no on every levy. We have to get out of this paradigm that the district and its entities control the schools not the comunnity as it should. The value of where they live would truly be a positive benchmark for the schools.

    In the private sector we have lost many benefits, salary, jobs, time off, a double digit spike just about every year in medical premiums. The gap allowed to save would be a boon to those of us struggling to educate our children. Perhaps it will get us off the paradigm that more money is needed to properly educate our children every year.
    The 10% basics allways remain the same or get cut.
    The 90% elephant has to be addressed. Somehow if we
    spend only 170 million it is not enough when we just
    spent 150 million two years ago ? Not because enrollment went way up either.

    Paul, the board still has work to do on reviewing their spending, and hopefully it will be addressed.
    We have far from a bare bones education here, that many are struggling to pay for due to the constant increases in taxes. Many items have been discussed that are excessive or like to have so we wont go into that. The supplementals and curriculum would be a good start however.

    I doubt this bill will pass in current form, but everyone hopefully will take the time to read it,AND contact their representative, senator as well as the governor and suggest changes that will allow more freedom and flexibility for parents and guardians.

  6. Paul, edit this however you please….

    Very interesting discussion, Paul. Here’s a perspective from one Catholic family, though. We have voluntarily sent our children completely through a private, Catholic education, grades 1 through 12. (Our parish school did not offer kindergarten when we needed it. Kindergarten for each child was the only time we ever used Hilliard public schools.) Paying tuition for 12 years for each child was a financial sacrifice, affecting living standard and disposable income usage, for such things as cars, vacations, home location and both parents working. We did it without hesitation and feel that it has been more than worth it for our children.

    However we do understand and support the need for strong public schools. We expect to and willingly pay our taxes to support those schools. It’s the hallmark of what makes this country great. Having our taxes fund strong public schools is definitely a core belief for us. I agree with the discussion about public usage and funding of parks, police, etc. At this point, in spite of the aid HB136 would provide to families such as ours, we do not support it.

    There are funds available to those Catholics of limited means who want to send their children to parochial schools. I do understand the strong sentiment against using public tax money to send children to private schools. There is a great difference between public and Catholic schools. I welcome it and will work to maintain it. They each have their separate strengths. Catholic schools cannot easily accommodate those with special needs, and the public schools usually do a good job of helping those students. These students of course are more expensive to educate, and our tax dollars appropriately go to those programs. It makes no sense to also pay to duplicate that effort in the private sector.

    End of discussion on next post...sorry so long.

  7. But all that being said, we do strongly agree with Paul that the lack of normal “market forces” being able to come into play for school district salaries is something that should not continue. Even with the current wage freeze, there is no discussion of long term control of exorbitant salary escalation. How can we even begin to believe that things won’t go back to the way they have been, as soon as the freeze ends. Won’t the teachers then expect to be rewarded for their sacrifice via the freeze, and then get continued high raises to compensate for the years of frozen salaries? You watch. It will happen.

    And what really makes me upset about the way our tax dollars are used is the way quality education is equated with extravagance. Bishop Watterson High School will never match the immense range of course offerings at the Hilliard high schools. But the true academic excellence at Watterson is hands down as good as, if not better than what is achieved at Hilliard High Schools. I willingly pay twice for education, by way of tuition and taxes . But I do strongly oppose having so little voice in having to also pay for the mini college courses our public schools offer. I may choose a Catholic education. But I don’t also want to have to pay for someone else to have the choice between 12 different business courses, including “Sports and Entertainment Management”. Watterson doesn’t have it, and it certainly is NOT any less of an excellent school. Watterson offers 147 classes to the students, and my understanding is that Hilliard high schools offer about 300. How can that possibly make for a “better” school experience?? Why do we have to pay for that?? According to the Watterson web site:

    “ More than 72% of our 2011 graduates earned merit-based scholarships totaling more than 12 million dollars. This does not include grants or financial aid.”

    That $12 million was awarded to less than 225 seniors.

    So, bottom line, we willingly pay our fair share of taxes, even though we’ve had minimal usage of the school system. We just feel we have paid more than what is reasonable or even fair. We want better control of cost escalation and a better forum to be heard. We greatly appreciate the efforts of Paul Lambert and highly value his hard work and sound reasoning. We need more people like him in positions of authority in the district. I’m sorry Justin Gardner didn’t get elected to the school board.
    We don’t want a divided community because of school funding, but the school system must address the current spending excesses.

  8. Um, about that $12 million and the 225 seniors, that statistic is a very common misnomer used by every single high school in, probably, the country. That figure is the total amount offered to the students, not what is actually accepted, and it includes all amounts offered by every school the student was accepted to. Most students have been accepted by multiple schools, and just about every school, especially the private ones, offer a substantial amount to cushion the base tuition figures. It is pretty obvious that those 225 seniors have not been offered an average of $53,000 each. Just thought I would clear that up as it is really just (somewhat) typical propaganda that the schools like to use to show how good of a job they are doing with our kids.

  9. Yes, that IS the point. Those seniors may not have been able to possibly accept that total money, because it was offered from multiple schools. But yes, based on academic achievement they WERE offered that money. The high achievement of those students was made with much less of what I consider the "extravagance" of the course offerings in Hilliard high schools.

  10. "But from the perspective of the folks with kids in non-public schools, it means an end to having their tax dollars being taken to fund the public schools their kids don't attend."
    I gasped at this. The point of paying taxes to support a public school systems isn't just to educate your own kids. If you follow that argument, then since we have no kids and have never used the public school system, why should we be required to pay the schools portion of property tax? The aim of bills like these, like the subsidizing of charter schools, is to weaken and eventually destroy the public school system in this country. If you want to send your kids to private or charter schools that's a personal choice that should have nothing to do with your obligation as a citizen to support the public schools. I also beleive we shouldn't have thousands of individual school districts and school boards setting their own curriculums and programs. We should have a national system with national standards and county administrations to administer them funded by federal taxes. This would end the disparity between what different schools offer. Imagine how much less it would cost if we got rid of those layers of administration.

    "Won’t the teachers then expect to be rewarded for their sacrifice via the freeze"
    Well of course this is exactly what they expect. The pro-levy yard signs in my neighborhood were on the lawns of district employees. The job of the school board will be to negotiate with them as hard as they fight for that "reward". Collective bargaining is a two-sided activity and I expect the management side to bargain very, very aggressively when the freeze is lifted.

  11. BV Retiree:

    Thanks for your comments.

    I suppose we Americans will forever argue about how much government we think is the right amount. I like to reflect on my ancestors who settled Ohio in the 1790s (it was still the Northwest Territory then), who must have been incredibly self-reliant. Nonetheless, they didn't come here until the Federal troops had made the area relative secure from Indian attacks. That was "enough government" for them.

    Very very few of us have that kind of self-reliance today. We grouse about paying taxes, but fully expect clean safe water to come out of the faucet every time we turn it on, for a medic to show up if we call 911, and for our streets to be plowed when it snows.

    The question being raised is whether "educating the public" is the same thing as "public education." In the case of food production and distribution, we are comfortable with letting private industry manage that process, albeit with more than a little government subsidy and influence (Did you know that agriculture in Ohio is subsidized via the school funding system? It's called CAUV - another topic for another time).

    Folks have the choice as to how much of the public/private food production and distribution system to use. Most of us are completely dependent on it, but expect to have choice as to where we buy food and how much we pay. Some grow their own gardens and a few hunt and fish for meat, but still count on the neighborhood supermarket as their primary food source. And there are no doubt a few who who are completely 'off the grid.'

    I don't think the public school system of this country is a bad thing - far from it. But I believe it has gained too much power, and has become unnecessarily monopolistic. By that I mean that it has evolved to the point where it is believed that because public schools have the exclusive authority to levy taxes, all money spent on K-12 education should be its to manage. Like somehow it is okay to take money from all taxpayers - even those who voted against a levy - and then have exclusive control over how it gets spent.

    I'm suggesting that all this money shouldn't be taken from the taxpayers in the first place.

    I'm willing to be taxed to support a voucher program that makes sure no kid is denied, for economic reasons, the chance for a 'thorough and efficient' K-12 education. But I'm suggesting that outside that, we let parents decide how to spend their education dollars.

    After all, that's exactly how our post-secondary education system works.

    It will indeed be interesting to see how the negotiations go in 2013. My #1 reason for writing this blog, and for running for a seat on the School Board for that matter, is to prepare the community - parents, taxpayers and teachers alike - to have a discussion on the real issues, and not just myth-driven emotion.

    The ability of the management to be tough negotiators will be controlled by how much support the Board gets from the voters. That negotiation will likely take place in the months leading up to the election during which the voters will decide who will serve next in the seats now occupied by Andy, Lisa and me - meaning any of the three of us who choose to run for reelection will have to gauge whether to seek the support of the teachers' union, and therefore motivated to be less aggressive in the negotiation, or to be tough negotiators and hope those who wanted that show up on election day.

    I can tell you that there are a pile of elected officials in the Statehouse who wonder whether their efforts to weaken the the public employee unions have cost them their seats in the next election. They'll need a lot of support if the public wants them to continue down that path.

  12. The Ohio School Boards Association, of which the Hilliard Board of Education is a member, had this to say today about potential amendments to HB136:

    December 7, 2011
    Members of the Ohio House of Representatives
    State House
    Columbus, Ohio 43215

    Dear Representative,

    We are writing to reiterate our strong opposition to House Bill (HB) 136, a bill that would provide subsidies for private school students with public tax dollars. HB 136 proposes to grant vouchers to private school students regardless of the academic performance of their public school district of residence. By initiating this entitlement program to subsidize private schools in every school district, this bill represents a major shift in public policy, a move that would severely undermine Ohio's public school system.

    The members of Ohio’s education management organizations throughout the state – the Buckeye Association of School Administrators, the Ohio Association of School Business Officials and the Ohio School Boards Association – continue to express opposition to HB 136. Their advocacy efforts opposing this bill have exceeded any previous activity in recent memory because of the grave nature of the proposal affecting education.

    It is our understanding that amendments to the HB 136 are currently under consideration. We want to be clear that no amendments to the bill could lead to our support. Our membership strongly agrees with this position.

    Attached to this letter is a listing of over 250 public school districts that have taken formal action to oppose HB 136. We continue to receive resolutions from districts daily. As you can see from the list, all types of districts are represented. This is an issue that has galvanized the public education community like few in the past. We urge your serious consideration of the far-reaching consequences of passing HB136 and urge you to vote NO if and when the bill comes to the floor for action.

    The Ohio Education Association, the state-level organization of the teachers' union, has also expressed its opposition for HB136.

    HB136 may be flawed as proposed, but why do these organizations fear allowing the legislative process to run its course?

  13. BV Retiree - You said:

    "The aim of bills like these, like the subsidizing of charter schools, is to weaken and eventually destroy the public school system in this country."

    That is an unfortunate and harsh characterization of supporters of school choice efforts. By and large, they are not out to destroy public schools, but rather to give parents choices. You advocate for a national system, but there's no way that such a one size fits all system would serve the diverse needs and wishes of communities city LA, suburban Columbus, rural Montana, the conservative south and the more liberal north east. Shoot, here in Hilliard we don't all agree on the priorities our schools should have. Allowing parents to choose the school that fits their kids, their ethics and their families best would serve these families better.

    You also said that the desire to send your kids to a private school is "a personal choice that should have nothing to do with your obligation as a citizen to support the public schools". Let's examine that choice for a moment.

    Right now I'm very happy with the Hilliard schools, but let's say things change and the schools take a turn for the worse. In order to exercise that choice you refer to, I'd have to come up with several thousand dollars for each of my 3 kids for tuition on top of the tax dollars I already spend. Alternatively, I could move to a new district and pay a Realtor to list my house, which would likely mean upgrades to the house to make it marketable and then pay my moving expenses, not to mention whatever the difference in price my new house will be compared to my old.

    The reality is, I don't have money to do either so practically, I have no choice. Now, I'm in a position to make some sacrifices to make this possible, but many poor families have no such flexibility, they have to live wherever they can afford and deal with whatever the schools are in that community.

    The idea of 'school choice' is an illusion for all but the well off with the system we have today. That's why many of us support the idea of allowing families to have a choice of where they spend their childs education dollars.

  14. Here is the language of the resolution which will appear on the agenda for the School Board meeting this coming Monday:

    WHEREAS, the Ohio House of Representatives is currently considering legislation that would significantly expand the availability of vouchers for students to attend private or parochial schools;

    and WHEREAS, this legislation would grant vouchers to any public school student in Ohio to request and be granted a voucher, subject only to a family income standard of $95,000 or less;

    and WHEREAS, such vouchers would be granted without regard to the academic performance of the public school that the student is assigned to attend;

    and WHEREAS, the bill provides that students already enrolled in private or parochial schools would be eligible for such vouchers;

    and WHEREAS, students receiving vouchers would be able to retain any excess funds in those instances where the cost of tuition is less than the value of the voucher for use in any private school or college in Ohio;

    and WHEREAS, the operation of the proposed program would take dollars directly from the already financially beleaguered local public school districts resulting in fewer resources for the education of the remaining students;


    that the Hilliard City School District's Board of Education does hereby express its opposition to this legislation, HB 136 School Choice;

    and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Hilliard City School District's Board of Education expresses its opposition to any legislation that seeks to transfer public dollars to support private education;

    and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Treasurer be directed to spread this resolution upon the minutes of the Board of Education and that copies of the resolution be forwarded to members of the Ohio House of Representatives.

    I have notified the other members of the School Board that I will be making a motion to amend this resolution by striking the next-to-last paragraph, which I've indicated in bold above. While there technical problems with HB136 as proposed, I am and have long been a proponent of school choice, and cannot vote for a resolution which seeks to abridge that ability.

    We should also note that as HB136 proceeds through the legislative process, it getting some changes which may address most of my concerns with the Bill.

  15. I don't know enough to have an opinion on this bill. However, it is very refreshing to have an opportunity to obtain the thought process and documented opinion of an elected official who represents our district.

    Paul, please let me know where I can get the positions and reasons from the other four elected officials on the Board.

    Thanks in advance.

  16. Mark: To my knowledge, none of the other four Board members publish any information about their positions. If anyone knows where such information can be found, please comment.

    Any or all members of the School Board can be contacted via email

  17. Another great example of the communication of our board. An Amendment to a resolution that stated a number of issues that are no longer part of the actual SB136 bill, and there is NO meaningful discussion from the majority of the board.

    You would think that something this important would invite some public discussion on this important bill that has just been amended somewhat
    just this week.

    Thanks Paul for trying to bring some semblance of balance and information.

    I see based on our fiscal emergency that we still have funds for multiple coaches exceeding university level staffing and other supplementals.
    Someday this will be dicussed by the board and addressed. I just dont expect that in my lifetime.

  18. This is the comment I intended to read into the record at the Board meeting last night, but having left my reading glasses at home, had to go from memory:

    It’s not clear to me that the approach used today to bring education to our nation’s children is the only possible solution. Our nation may lead the world in terms the sheer volume of children we push through our educational system, but I’m not sure we’re leading in terms of results.

    From the invention of the automobile through the 1960s, the American auto industry was confident that the way it designed, built and marketed cars was the only ‘right’ way. Then the gas crisis happened in the 70s, and our stubborn refusal to adapt and change handed our auto industry over to foreign manufacturers.

    The American auto manufacturers have changed, as has their relationship with their workers. Both have learned hard lessons - who in 1960 would have ever conceived of General Motors going bankrupt? And most of the foreign manufacturers have now set up shop here, using design philosophies, manufacturing approaches, and labor structures that make sense in today’s world.

    I acknowledge that some school districts are better than others at trying new approaches, and I’m proud that Hilliard Schools is one of them. The School 20/20 strategy isn’t just words on paper, I see it firsthand practiced every week in the classroom.

    But not all school districts are like ours. Some are failing, tragically for the kids who see their one opportunity squandered while the adults argue.

    And there will always be some kids in our own community who will fail in the traditional environment, but could thrive in one where a radically different approach is being tried.

    I am willing to be critical of any specific piece of legislation as it works it way through the process. However, I cannot agree to blanket opposition to all future legislation which might create opportunities to prevent the American education system from going the way of the American auto industry.

    HB136 as introduced has some technical problems. These may or may not get addressed in the legislative process, and so I am willing to support a resolution that sends our legislators the message that they still have some work to do on this Bill. But I cannot support the resolution before us without one small but significant change, and I therefore

    MOVE that the resolution be amended to delete the next-to-last paragraph, which reads

    “and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Hilliard City School District's Board of Education expresses its opposition to any legislation that seeks to transfer public dollars to support private education;”

    My motion died for the lack of a second, which let me to vote against the resolution.

    Meanwhile, HB136 continues to be modified via the normal legislative process. I suspect we'll end up with a law that doesn't accomplish much besides once again stirring up a bunch of opposition, a la the SB5 fight.

  19. As Paul points out, the bill is still working its way through the legislative process. Rep. Huffman has announced three key changes to the bill:

    1) No local tax dollars are used. The maximum amount of each voucher is the calculated per-pupil dollar amount the district receives from the state.

    2) The number of students in any one district who can take advantage of the vouchers is limited to 1%. This removes the objection that a public school district can be crippled by this legislation.

    3) The voucher dollars cannot be banked by the parents. This removes the objection that parents could use the vouchers as a backdoor way of paying for college with their neighbors property tax dollars.

    With these three changes, the legislation becomes viable. I would add a fourth - that any institution receiving any public funds be held to the same accountability system as public schools. The parents deserve to have that information. Competition works best when all of the details of each product are readily accessible.

    The only remaining argument I've heard against the bill is the slippery slope argument - that once the bill is law, increasing the cap or the amount of the voucher, or increasing the income level required for eligibility become simply changes. I grant the point, but do not think it is enough to prevent the state from offering an alternative to some kids trapped in failing systems.

  20. If HCSD met my needs, maybe I would not feel the need to look into a private school for my son when he starts Kindergarten in 2013. As a working mother, the idea of half day kindergarten is just logistically impossible. Therefore, I am looking into some private schools and an extra 4K will help make it affordable. (HannahC)

  21. The issue ANON is the significant cost to add
    all day kindergarten. It might require additional
    space to be leased. We would have to pass another levy to fund this in short order.
    Olentangy, a growing district is now doing away with all day kinder. The state might want to mandate, it but in fact is cutting funding.

    Given the economic times more tax dollars to fund this like to is reckless. Is not going to happen,
    and child care is not a responsibility of the school district nor the community. If you make that choice to move to a private school so be it.
    But not at the expense of seniors, those layed, off, those who have taken pay cuts, facing foreclosure etc. This is similar to our huge issue in this district on supplemental contracts that serve a select number that are funded and
    staffed at amounts and numbers over most Universities, especially coming to sports.
    The supplemental list is out of control and MUST be changed significantly along with medical benefit cost, eliminate free dental etc. to
    take a serious step in reigning in our unsustainable spending increases