Monday, February 18, 2008

Olentangy Levy: What we now know

Let's focus on just four of the things we know:

  1. The $10.5 million in cuts is not required.
  2. Bond investment is available and can be used.
  3. The administration and board have no intent on negotiating tighter contracts.
  4. Schools cannot be closed to the public, churches are safe.
  5. The last year(s) of all district levies have deficit spending.
Additional explanation:
  1. The cuts list is a threat; plain and simple.
  2. The fact that there is bond investment income means that the district is not selling bonds only when bond money is needed. I don't think anyone wants the district to sit on a pile of bond money -- funded by tax dollars -- so that investment income can be earned. The board will consider this option after the levy fails.
  3. The negative balance in FY09 is cleared by tighter negotiations. It's that simple. The district is not currently proposing this as a solution, but it will after the levy fails.
  4. The district can't close schools to the public. Never could. State laws will not allow it.
  5. Deficit spending in the out-years of a levy are normal, in fact all district levies are structured that way -- including the one on the ballot.

9 comments:

scott said...

Jim,

You're absolutely right. If this levy passes, the union will want more. If it doesn't pass, the district will be able to negotiate a better contract that is more fair to the taxpayer.

No one can explain to me how I'm supposed to fund 6.5% raises and terrific/cheap healthcare with my 7% annualized property tax increases. All while I'm getting a 3.4% raise (dec06 to dec07, US Govt) if I'm lucky and my property values are stagnant or declining.

I've yet to speak to anyone that is voting yes. Now is not the time for a dramatic tax increase.

local business owner... said...

Jim,
As an Olentangy resident I like reading your blog but a previous post got me thinking and so I did the math. My wife, an OLS teacher, has averaged 3.35% increase over the last 7 years. This didn't make sense since I know you said they average 6.5%. Looking closely I think I see your shortcomings. You must think every teacher gets a step and an educational increase. This isn't the case. My wife, even with earning her masters in the last 7 years (there was a big edu increase) still only averaged 3.35%. This includes the steps and negotiated increases and edu increase. Furthermore, the edu increase only comes after taking college credits toward their professional development plan and not after CEUs which are very common.
Again, this gets me thinking and I wonder if you failed to figure in the fact the bottom line for the district salaries increase yearly because the quantity of staff increase...

I personally haven't made up my mind on this levy but in looking into my wife's salary and inquiring about her fellow teachers I can't find anyone who has seen the riches of a 6.5% increase.

Jim Fedako said...

Look for my post A Really Good Question as it attempts to explain it all.

In addition, check the assumptions from district's the Five-Year Financial Forecast, it is explained there also. The treasurer states exactly what I state; these are not my numbers.

By way of example: the difference between a current teacher with 5 years experience and a BA+15 and on with 12 years experience and an MA yields an annualized increase of 3.7%. Then, you add the annualized increase associated with the negotiated raises.

Assume an average of 3% per year and you are at 6.7%.

Check the current negotiated agreement on the district website.

Jim Fedako said...

Actually, just look at her pay stub from 5 years ago v. her current. That will show her true salary increase. The 3.35% is likely just the average negotiated amount over the last five years. But, I don't know where you are getting these figures.

Just call the district treasurer, she can explain it all.

Jim Fedako said...

Correction. I meant to say "7 years ago" in my previous comment.

Pete said...

I got these numbers from the district through Olentangy for Kids. From someone named Sue. The numbers do not include education increases:

COLA Step Total
1/1/2002 4.00% 2.50% 6.50%
1/1/2003 3.50% 2.50% 6.00%
1/1/2004 3.50% 2.50% 6.00%
1/1/2005 1.755% 0.00% 1.76%
7/1/2005 2.75% 2.60% 5.35%
7/1/2006 2.85% 2.65% 5.50%
7/1/2007 2.25% 2.70% 4.95%

So with the education increases, 6.5% is probably about right. At any rate, these are much higher than the US average of 3.4% and the 3.35% as stated by the other comment.

Jim Fedako said...

Pete,

Thanks. Please note that 2005 was a split year. There are January and July increases. There was a switch between calendar year and fiscal (school) year increase. So, they need to blended together for that year.

Again, the 6.5% is not "about right," it's exactly what the district is budgeting.

Read the Five-Year Forecast or speak to the treasurer.

another local business owner said...

Scott,

It is probably more likely that the union will go without a contract for a year before negotiating a 0% raise. They are smart in the fact that if they go without a contract, when the levy finally does pass when the district is really in trouble, they will get paid retroactively. They are not stupid...that is why they are teaching! Teachers are feeling the money crunch just everybody else is.

Jim,

This five-year forecast, to me, does not say that they are offering 6.5% increases in salary. Just that the payroll is going to increase by that much. As Olentangy grows by 1000 students every year (approx. 7.6% from this year to next year) it is inevitable that the payroll is going to increase because that are going to need, at least by district student:teacher ratios, 40 more teachers. just salary alone for those 40 teachers at base salary with a first-bachelors degree teacher is $1,364,680. With retirement benefits, that totals $1,555,735. Add another $244,181 for single employee insurance and medicare and it comes to $1,799,916 just for the expanded growth of the district.

This does not include any teachers with master's degrees or teachers with families.

Just a thought about that

Jim Fedako said...

You obviously did not read the Five-Year Financial Forecast or my previous post, A Really Good Question. The 6.5% is not referenced anywhere on the forecast, it has to be calculated. So, how did you read a percentage that is not there?

Go to the forecast, pull out a calculator, and do some number crunching.

Total payroll (including new staffing) is going up 13.5% between this year and next.

The 6.5% does NOT include new teachers. "New Staffing" has it's own line. It's all explained on pages 6 and 7 of the forecast, or on my prior post.

Or, refer to Pete's number. Or, simply call the treasurer. Or. post a question to Olentangy for Kids.

Really, I am ASKING you to verify what I am stating. It's all true.

Please dig a little deeper (and actually read the document), anyone can hypothesize nonsense.