Thursday, December 26, 2013


In the course of seven years, I've published 438 articles to this blog. That's a little more than one per week, which has been my goal, believing that I should publish often enough to keep folks interested, but not so much to become just white noise.

I'm not sure there's that much more for me to say - at least not on the fundamental stuff:

  • The cost of running our school district is, and will always be, a function of the number of folks we employ and how much we pay them. I believe that the time has come when we must have an earnest conversation about whether we can continue to afford the expansive programming we offer, especially at the high school level, in both the academic and extracurricular dimensions.

    The regular appearance on the ballot of the property tax levies necessary to fund the rising cost of this level of programming will meet increasing resistance from voters, and our high tax rate will jeopardize our property values. But cutting our programming to the bone and becoming a less-desirable school district will hurt our property values as well. We'll have to make our choices very carefully, and with a lot of dialog.

    And it can't be done successfully with the abysmal community engagement we saw in the November election, with only 13% turnout.  Of the 56,488 registered voters in the Hilliard City School District, only 7,348 bothered to show up. That's fewer than half the number of students we have enrolled in the district - for an election in which three of the five School Board members would be determined. There's probably more folks at one of our intra-district football games.

    Granted, we, the leaders of our school district, should do a better job of creating opportunities for you to be engaged in these necessary conversations. I hope we take on that challenge in the coming year.
  • Our revenue will always be a mixture of local property taxes and funding from the State of Ohio. As long as our state and national politics remain so polarized, the state funding component will continue to be volatile. That means we need to keep a reasonable cash reserve on hand to give us time to make good decisions when state funding drops, rather than having to react to an immediate fiscal crisis.

    And until our local city leaders - Hilliard, Columbus and Dublin - decide that it's more important to protect the current residents of our community than it is to provide profit opportunities to residential real estate developers, we need to understand that when a new housing development goes up, the rest of us are likely going to end up subsidizing the cost of educating the kids who will come with it.

    By the way, I say that with the understanding that it may well be thought to be hypocritical for the School Board to enter into an agreement to sell 100+ acres to a home developer. This is a unique and unfortunate situation, and I've explained how I came to support this decision. Since the deal fell through because of the unexpected demands put on the developer by the City of Hilliard, we have one more chance to explore options. Who knows?

    Regardless, the general economic health of our public institutions - both the School District and municipalities - depends on bringing in businesses at a rate comparable to residential development. Or rather, the rate of residential development should be managed so as not to exceed the rate of new commercial development. It can be done as simply as refusing new annexation requests for residential development until a good more commercial development takes place.

    An expanding school district doesn't count as commercial development, even though Hilliard City Schools is the largest employer in the City of Hilliard. The income taxes paid by the teachers and staff of the School District may help fund the City of Hilliard, but that money starts out as property taxes paid by the residents and businesses already here in our community. What we need are more employers who get their revenue from outside the school district, like BMW Financial and Verizon.
I'm sure that every once in a while, some issue will come up which merits some explanation, analysis or comment, but otherwise I'll not be trying to keep to a one-article-per-week pace going forward. I also hope that soon all the supplemental materials for our School Board meetings will be provided directly on the district website, along with the meeting agenda.

Meanwhile, if you have a question or issue you want me to address, please send an email, and I'll be happy to do so.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Notice of Special School Board Meeting


(RC 3313.16)

Notice is hereby given; there will be a SPECIAL meeting of the Board of Education of the Hilliard City School District on TUESDAY, DECEMBER 17, 2013 at 6:00 P.M. located at the McVey Innovative Learning Center Annex, 5323 Cemetery Road, Hilliard, Ohio. The meeting will be held in regular session to discuss regular business as deemed necessary by the Board of Education and any other business that may be lawfully considered.

The meeting is called by Brian W. Wilson, Treasurer/CFO of the Hilliard City School District Board of Education, at the direction of the President of said Board.

December 16, 2013


Brian W. Wilson, Treasurer/CFO
Hilliard City School District
Board of Education

I believe the only item on the agenda will be to approve a new 3 year agreement with the employees represented by the Ohio Association of Public School Employees (OAPSE). I'll publish the final version when available. The base compensation increases are the same as for the Hilliard Education Association (2% each year of the contract), with the same changes to the health insurance plan design.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Supplemental Materials for the December 9, 2013 School Board Meeting

Here are the supplemental materials provided in preparation for the regular meeting of the School Board, to be held Monday December 9, 2013 at 7pm at Weaver Middle School. This will be the last regularly scheduled Board meeting for 2013.

Item B2 is a presentation of the results from a community survey taken in August. A couple of observations:

  •  A large majority of folks say the community and the school district is "going in the right direction."
  • More folks said "managing the budget/cutting costs" should be the top priority than any other choice.
  • 86% said the quality of education provided by the district is Good or Very Good.
  • 30% approve or strongly approve of the job being done by the School Board vs 9% who disapprove. But 60% said they don't know or don't care. This apathy is what's going to kill America.
  • The community is evenly split on this dimension: a) should we have the very best schools we can even if it means raising taxes; versus, b) we need to control costs, even if it means we're not being the best. (sorry, missed the "not" in the originally published version)
  • Over half said we should put more emphasis on reducing operating costs
  • Over half said we should put more emphasis on preparing students for college and higher education
  • About half said we should put more emphasis on advanced coursework
  • About half said we have enough emphasis on fine arts (why wasn't there a question about athletics?)
  • Less than half said we should increase the access to technology. About the same fraction said we have enough access to technology now.
  • Less than half said we should more more emphasis on building security. More folks said we are good where we are.
  • Best sources of information to evaluate the quality of the district?  More said the teachers than any other response. Next was students.
  • Best source of general information about the schools?  #1 is the newspapers, followed by the district "E-News."
  • Here's a critical demographic: 62% of the respondents don't have kids in our schools.

Item F1 is mandated by the Ohio Revised Code and our own Policy KH to allow the school district to accept various items which were donated this year. We thank the efforts and generosity of the contributors.

Item F2 is an amendment to our appropriations. This is the legal mechanism required to take possession of additional revenue made available to us.

Item F3 is the 2014-2015 school calendar.