In November 2009 voters chose me to become one of their representative on this school board to assist in making decisions about what is best for the children of Springboro Community City Schools. I was elected as a spokesperson for this community after four failed levy attempts. As a spokesperson, I am responsible for representing what those four failed attempts signaled. I want to make clear that a no vote in no way means that the voter does not support education, this district, or district employees and should not be misconstrued in that way. While Springboro voters have agreed to increase their own property taxes 20 times in the last 20 years, they have voted to give Springboro schools more money nine times. Voters have made it clear with the four consecutive no votes that they can not, at this time, sustain this level of increases in costs and spending. The voters of Springboro have agreed to fund adequate classroom supplies, adequate number of teachers and district employees to keep our district running smoothly.
I believe that this community values and respects district employees and places a high value on education. Let's not forget that parents, local businesses, and community members have given us a tremendous amount which we see in our fantastic facilities and the extensive support of our programs through volunteer efforts and fundraisers. Surely we can come together to keep the excellent education we offer our children and not go to the voter for more every few years.
We as a community have learned that nothing can be taken for granted. Real estate, once the solid investment has failed to be solid, income has not gone up but declined for most members of this community, investments have taken a huge hit, and health care costs and insurance premiums have become less affordable for most companies and individuals.
I vote not to put another levy on the ballot in November because I do not believe that we have listened to the Springboro voter and cut, reduced, or frozen what the community is demanding. We have not completed efforts to communicate consistent, complete and factual information to our community.
It is unprofessional and further catastrophic to district/community relations to continue the barrage of punitive measures for the no votes. The majority of this community is living with far less pay and benefits than they had before. Most of these community members would have loved their employer to simply continue the pay and benefit packages they had let alone increase them.
We all need to discontinue the unprofessional behavior of kicking when one is down. Extending the hand is not only the responsible solution but overwhelmingly, the most positive approach.
People all across Springboro have lost their jobs. If they've kept their jobs, their paying more for their benefits, they're making less money, they've had their salaries frozen if not cut and had hours reduced and yet we're about to ask them to raise their property taxes. Why? One only needs to look at the District 5-year forecast to find the answers. We can't continue to operate this business of education as if there is no end to the money.
This community is advocating for "Shared sacrifice” and as many members have expressed to me, “it is a matter of feeding my family or paying more taxes”.
That being said, I am willing to support letting the voter decide on a levy if the following issues are openly discussed and negotiated. Agreements should be made and published which hold this district as responsible for a sustainable district budget as we hold our community. These agreements should more closely match what the community is experiencing. To clarify for all, this has been my position all along. Since I was sworn in last January, I’ve held on certain principles:
- Agreements on salary and wage annual raises. All three; Step, Base and Merit.
- Agreements for sick plus personal days off with pay.
- Agreements on health insurance covered benefits and costs that more closely match the community.
- Agreements on supplemental contracts, pay amounts and quantity.
- Agreements on busing our students, pay-to-play, and student fees.
- Decide on minimum and maximum class sizes,
- Complete efforts to communicate consistent, complete and factual information to our community. An example: Avoid using school speak.
- Agreements on bonuses, annuities and retirement contributions.
- Agree to follow the financial and performance audit recommendation or clearly publish reasons that we do not.
- Follow audit recommendations and write a policy to follow a well developed forecasting formula and procedures, one that is community and reader friendly.
These and several other issues need to be addressed, action taken and action published. We should all work together for a sustainable budget, as the community expects us to. The one presented here today is not. There is no reason to rush this levy request for this November.
Other Things to Consider
- Agreements on board meeting conduct, agenda, meeting minutes that are meaningful.
- A clear policy on bullying, intimidation and retaliation that applies and is applied to all district employees, including telling this community that they are discusted by and do not like working here because this community did not pass a levy.
- Addition of the following Board Committees: Community Advisory Committee and Finance and Insurance Advisory Committee