Taxpayers for Westerville Schools

Putting children and their education first and uniting the community…

September Newsletter

TAXPAYERS FOR WESTERVILLE SCHOOLS
September, 2012 Newsletter

Effort to reduce Westerville school property taxes makes the ballot

On August 20, 2012, the Franklin County Board of Elections certified the petition turned in earlier this month. The issue will now be placed on the November 6th ballot – vote YES on Issue #52.

According an article in The Dispatch, the all volunteer group of signature collectors had 92% of the signatures approved. This accuracy is almost unheard of! Thank you to the volunteers for their work and devotion to this effort.

Additional information from the article:

“The group leading the effort collected 4,726 valid signatures and needed only 3,585. The board unanimously approved the issue for the ballot.”

“Of the 5,136 signatures gathered by the group, 92 percent were determined to be valid, a high rate for a ballot issue.”

Volunteers “do their job, and they’re very careful,” Ben Piscitelli said. “These numbers speak for themselves.”

 

DONATIONS ARE NEEDED
On Taxpayers for Westerville Schools website you will find a very important button – DONATE. Donations to cover door hangers, yard signs, and fliers is greatly appreciated and needed. Please take a moment to give $15 or $25 or whatever you can afford to support the efforts to successfully pass this issue.

 

LIKE US ON FACE BOOK
Please visit our Face Book page at facebook.com/TaxpayersForWestervilleSchools. “Like” us and feel free to add your comments to any of the discussions.

 

TAX FREE WEEK-END
Now is the time to send a letter to your State Representative or Senator asking for the vote to pass this legislation. It would give Ohio, like 22 other states, a “tax free” week-end starting in 2013. In States like Alabama and South Carolina, retailers offer tons of sales on this weekend in preparation for back to school.

You can learn more and see the details of the bill on our website:
taxpayersforwestervilleschools.com/?page_id=512

It won’t help for this school year but can save some money for families facing “back-to-school” purchases next year.

 

LETTERS SUPPORTING THE EFFORT
Citizen’s letters to the Editor are super important. Take a moment or two and write your thoughts as to why it is necessary to pass this reduction. Here is the info to send a letter to The Dispatch:

  • The Dispatch welcomes letters to the editor from readers. Typed letters of 200 words or fewer are preferred; all might be edited. Each letter must include name, home address and daytime phone number. Dispatch.com also posts web-only letters that don’t make it to print in The Dispatch.
  • Letters can be sent by online form, mail, e-mail or fax.
    • Mail: Letters to the Editor, The Dispatch
      34 S. 3rd St., Columbus, OH 43215
    • E-mail: letters@dispatch.com (No attachments, please)
    • Fax: 614-461-8793
  • For more information, contact Editorial Page Editor Glenn Sheller (614-461-5072).

 

For Letters to the local This Week, they should be sent to the attention of Joe Meyer at: jmeyer@thisweeknews.com.

 

BOARD OF EDUCATION
Mark Monday, September 10th and 24th on your calendar. WSHS Commons is the site of the next 2 BOE meetings. The meetings start at 6 PM. The agenda for the meeting is available at http://www.boarddocs.com/oh/wcsd/board.nsf/public and is normally available for viewing the Saturday morning before the meeting. Attend the meetings and sign-up to speak during one of the two public comment sections. If you are a first time speaker and have any questions, send us an email at: info@taxpayersforwestervilleschools.com

 

WEBSITE
Our Web Master has been busy at work adding a tremendous amount of information to our web page. Take a look around and gain some knowledge of the “whys and wherefores” of the WCSD.

 

WE ARE WESTERVILLE
Check out the new video series, We Are Westerville. Real People with Real Stories.
We have started a video series to show a cross section of Westerville residents who agree with the tax reduction effort. The series has just started and more videos are coming soon. Check out the first video on our website: taxpayersforwestervilleschools.com/?page_id=688

 

SPECIAL SPEAKER
Taxpayers for Westerville Schools was blessed to have Springboro’s acting Board of Education President, Dr. Kelly Kohls, attend the Westerville School Board meeting on August 27th. She drove 2 hours, one way, to tell our BOE how Springboro managed to turn their $30M deficit into a $10M SUPLUS – without raising taxes. Below is her speech:

Dr. Kelly Kohls, August 27, 2012:

I am here tonight as a taxpayer, president of a school board, parent of five children in or have graduated from public schools and a former educator.

I understand that this district passed a levy in March for approximately 11% of your annual operating budget and there are grave concerns that a reduction of that amount will significantly and negatively impact the quality of education here in Westerville.

Let me give you some history about Springboro Schools whose board I currently preside over.

Since 2008, Springboro Schools tried to pass a levy that was also a little over 11% of our operating budget. Our community said “NO” 5 times. During these repeated levy campaigns our community was told that if this money was not given to our district we would see property values decline, children would be put in larger and larger classrooms, the quality of the education we offered would plummet downward, we would go off the financial cliff. Springboro would turn into a ghost town and we would be the laughing stock of the State.

All in all, our children would suffer, our community would suffer and we would be embarrassed.

But here are the facts:

We did not pass a levy for an 11% increase in our operating funds. We went from a projected deficit of $30 million to a projected $10 million in surplus while adding back everything that was taken from the kids. We added back busing, textbooks, field trips, special ed, gifted services. We decreased pay to play to half, lowered student fees, added back materials and supplies all while still giving modest raises, still giving an 85/15 health care cost split.

We have become leaner through less admin., less classified staff but no less teachers and class sizes have been reduced.

We were told that the State would come in and run our system at State minimum standards and that we did not want that. In running the ODE provided Simulation on running our district at State minimum standards I found that we could run our district at State minimum standards with 25% less money than we currently had let alone the additional $6 million per year the district was asking for; so in that case, we should be giving our taxpayers an annual refund if we dared to run a State minimum standards. While our community would celebrate a tax holiday, it was likely going to be a very cold day on the Sun before we saw a refund of our property taxes; so that threat should not be used.

All of this without more money!

What about quality?

As it turns out we have maintained Excellent with Distinction, average ACT scores went up for the last several years, we are now, as of last year, a Blue Ribbon School (Blue Ribbon Schools Program (NCLB-BRS) is a national recognition program, honoring elementary and secondary schools in the United States that make significant progress in closing achievement gaps or whose students achieve at the highest levels in their state. Through this program, the U.S. Department of Education recognizes and presents as models these elementary and secondary schools). In 2011, only 7 schools in Ohio and 150 country wide were recognized as a Blue Ribbon School.

I am a former educator, a taxpayer, community member, parent of five kids in this school yet I had no doubt that we could make financial decisions that would not hurt the quality of education while not raising taxes on our struggling community members. In total, we will have gone without this emergency money for 9 years longer than we were told we would survive.

Springboro community discovered that we didn’t need more money; we simply needed to spend differently. Our community agreed with the philosophy shift enough to elect two more board members with this philosophy. In the last two years, we have seen that passing the levy was not a viable tool for ensuring quality and that accountability was.

Currently Westerville has almost $3,000 more per pupil to spend than Springboro. This is 35% more money per pupil than we have to educate with. I understand that a repeal would decrease this to 25% more than we have to educate each pupil. It doesn’t take more money, it takes accountability.

The video of the speech can be found on YouTube, here: Dr. Kohls Video

 

QUESTIONS OR CONCERNS
If you would like to see information on a given topic, please let us know. We can answer you via e-mail or we could include the information in the next newsletter. Please feel free to forward our newsletter to your friends or neighbors. If they would like to be added to our mailing list, just send their information to info@taxpayersforwestervilleschools.com