Friday, February 29, 2008

Olentangy Levy: Most inane comment from a board member

Olentangy board member Julie Feasel posted this comment on another blog:

I just want to point out that Olentangy did make $6 million in cuts to future spending BEFORE even going on the ballot and we continue to look at how we can trim costs. (emphasis added)

Did you get that? They made cuts to future spending when the issue is this fiscal year and next fiscal year. Is this her idea of cutting costs?

Really, why do I care that they cut projected costs, effective FY2010, when it's FY2009 that has the supposed negative balance (I say supposed as there is no real deficit -- read my previous post)?

Inane!

Just think about it: There are costs that can be cut, yet Feasel and company are waiting until 2010. And, they want to raise your taxes for such nonsense.

This is the logic which guides the district. Amazing!



note: According to Feaselian logic, I am a financial genius and a good steward of my money since I decided not to buy an aircraft carrier in 2010. I cut $1 billion is costs. Wow!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Olentangy Levy -- Breaking News: A District Flush with Cash

Important news ... Please read carefully.


Two recent reports show that Olentangy is a district flush with cash.

As always, I have provided either the document or its link. Take some time to read these financial statements in order to understand the district's financial condition. I encourage you to research, ask questions, and learn.

By the way: You won't find this analysis at the Olentangy for Kids website. They just stick to the district spin. And, when I was involved with the committee (even chaired it), my numbers and analysis were consider the end; the final answer. Now that I don't like their levy, they don't like my numbers and analysis. Oh, well. Such is life.


First -- The monthly Comparative Statement of Receipts and Expenditures

The statement below -- reported to the board last night -- shows that revenue is up and expenses are down. Likely, though it's too early to be certain, the ending negative balance for next fiscal year -- the reason for the levy -- will be gone when the district updates its Five-Year Financial Forecast in May.

The deficit is gone! No need for a levy.

(note: Click on the document to enlarge. Also, the second analysis follows this document.)
Second -- Investment Income

The district's latest Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) is now available on the state auditor's website. This CAFR reports financial activities within the district for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2007 (FY07).

Once again, the district is reporting bond investment income -- $4.7 million worth. Over the past three fiscal years, the district has reported $9.6 million in investment income. And, more is being generated this fiscal year.

This money is available to be used for operating expenses. There is no need for the levy.

While it is true that money generated through bond sales cannot be used for operating expenses -- in fact such money must be used in the manner specified on the ballot, the investment earnings can be used for operating expenses. And, most likely, they will be used for expenses that are typically funded through the general fund.

There is no need for this new levy. There is more than enough available through the investment income alone to offset any negative year ending balance for FY09.

Oh, sure, the administration and levy committee will state that the investment income was approved by voters for future capital expenses. But, that contradicts the claim that the district only sells bonds when needed. In order to earn investment income, the district must have excess bond funds to invest. Therefore, bonds were sold before they were needed; if they are even needed at all.

The district typically puts more debt on the ballot than will be needed to fund the capital projects listed. There is a reason for that: to protect against rising and hidden costs. It is a contingency plan. Makes sense, but this pot of money is not supposed to continually grow.

The voters never approved a large bond fund to be used as a means to generate investment income. That money -- your tax dollars -- should be in your account generating investment income for you.

So, the district sells more bonds than needed, before they are needed, builds up a pot on bond funds as an investment tool, all the while claiming it is out of cash. Hmmm. Doesn't sound too honest to me.


See if the levy committee addresses either of these documents. Likely, they won't as these truths don't match their story. But, ask them anyway.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Olentangy Levy: Christmas in July

This is a reissue of an article I posted at the end of July, 2007. This is a reminder of the fiscal actions the board took while facing a deficit. (note: here is the link to the amended contract.)



July 30, 2007

Olentangy Residents,

Your board of education just celebrated a night of giving; giving the gift of taxpayer dollars of course.

The board amended the superintendent's contract effective July 17 and added almost $400,000 in salary and benefits. That's a lot of money given the cry for an additional levy. Actually, it's a lot of money no matter how you put it. Of course, it's all for the kids. Yeah, right!

Keep in mind that the superintendent was already one of the highest paid in Ohio. And, that was before the new amendments.

The new contract is a wonder to read. It removes the original accountability language and replaces it with guaranteed dollars.

In true double-speak, the bonus that was based on performance, and is now just another salary component, is classified in the contract as "at-risk compensation." At-risk? Come on, the bonus is guaranteed and is to be paid out before the school year begins.

Funny, the Ludwig von Mises Institute just published my
article on such types of gifts; gifts where the elected officials stand proud as they give your tax dollars away in their name.

I really don't know what's worse: the board giving away your tax dollars; the superintendent accepting those dollars while whining about budget shortfalls; or, the spin that was placed on this whole mess. Some people have no shame at all.

Remember this as the board and superintendent discuss the "need" for a November levy; despite the fact that none is needed until 2009. That will, of course, hold only if the board stops giving away your tax dollars in their name.

Read the provisions of the contract (below). You will be amazed, shocked, and troubled. I was.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Olentangy Levy: the truth using district data

Given all the nonsense, threats, and lies coming out of the district, I decided to once again provide a simple explanation regarding the supposed need for a levy in March. And, I am going to use the district's own numbers so that you can easily verify what I am saying.

By law, the district must file a Five-Year Financial Forecast every October. Here it is:
http://www.olentangy.k12.oh.us/pdf/finance/5YrFcst29Oct2007.pdf

Please note line 10.010 for FY09. That entry shows the ending deficit as $2,059,854 -- not the $10.5 million that the superintendent is claiming.

State laws requires districts to show no deficit in the first projected fiscal year; the fiscal year ending on June 30, 2009 (FY09). To remove the deficit, a district can make cuts, avoid new costs, find other funding, etc.

On page 7, you will note that base salary increases account for $1,929,246 million of new expenditures in FY09 (this does not include an additional approximately $270,000 that the district pays into state retirement systems due to these salary increases - page 7).

Also note that step and education increases provide $2.6 million for teachers, even without any base salary increase. So, teachers will still receive salary increases even with a zero percent increase in base pay. In fact, they will receive almost the 4% increase that is standard in the private sector.

By way of comparison: When the state was going through a period of fiscal problems, they negotiated a zero increase for all state workers. Zero; no step increase, no education increase, nothing.

In addition, health insurance increases account for another $2.4 million -- the district is assuming a 12% increase in its contribution per employee covered (page 8) -- note: taxpayers contribute $1005 per month for family coverage.

So, salary increases (base salary plus state contributions) and health insurance are the root cause of the deficit. It's not growth or any other factor. It's simply salaries and benefits.

To protect salaries and benefits, the superintendent is proposing cuts to programs. On top of that, he has created the illusion that he must cut $10.5 million in order to right the deficit.

Look for yourself, the deficit is only $2 million. The $10.5 million is a threatened punishment for not supporting the superintendent.

The district's financial situation is an expense issue, not a "district on the edge" issue.

It's all there in the district's Five-Year Forecast. The truth is easy to discern despite the district's spin and lies. A really convenient truth at that.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Olentangy Levy: Cutting services while costs rise

Last year (FY07), the district cut transportation for elementary students within one mile of school, based on sidewalks, speed limits, etc. So, you would expect that there would have been huge costs savings. Yet ...

District transportation costs rose between fiscal years 2006 and 2007, plus the district purchased additional buses; a $1 million worth. So, the district cut services, increased expenditures, and purchased buses. Doesn't say much for cost savings, does it?

Wouldn't it make sense for the district to reduce transportation expenditures under the current level of service, reaping the benefits of the updated walk policy? Such efforts would allow the levy to last another year. But, alas, the district just wants to continue spending your tax dollars; business as usual I suppose.

note: It's all reported in the district's Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) for FY06 and FY07, available here for FY06 and here for FY07. (Search for "transportation.")

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Olentangy for Kids: taking the low road

As I reported in an earlier post, the district cannot legally close buildings should the levy fail and the cuts be enacted. Yet, Olentangy for Kids still uses that threat. I guess that if you have a levy to sell, ethics goes out the window.

So, committee members threaten residents -- their own friends and neighbors. What are they teaching the children of the district? That it's OK to do and say anything as long as the supposed benefits outweigh the costs. The ends justify the means I suppose.

But, such behavior is neither right nor is it ethical.

Olentangy Levy: True costs

Annually, school districts in Ohio create a Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR), an audited document that provides different views of costs, expenditures, and revenue. Olentangy's latest CAFR -- found here on the state auditor website -- provides a simply way to get beyond the spin and into true district expenses.

The administration and Olentangy for Kids have been touting the district's costs per pupil as if their number details the total cost of running district operations. But, the Ohio Deparment of Education figure being used does not include real costs that any business would consider in its financial reports; namely interest, depreciation, etc.

Using accrual-based accounting, district costs per pupil soar from the advertised $8,507 per pupil to the true cost of $11,111. Shocked?

Well, you shouldn't be. Note that, despite the spin coming out of the district and levy committee, you are taxed for both operating and capital expenses. [1]

Consider this contrived example: Ask the manager of the local Burger King what the cost is to produce one hamburger. He thinks, and then states (say) 50 cents. You question him on that number and he says that salaries, benefits, beef, bun, etc, total only 50 cents, as if there are no capital costs associated with his store. The manager has understated his costs, just as the district understates its costs.

Read the CAFR and learn the true cost of education in Olentangy, your taxes paid for it.

note:
[1] The district is ranked 31st highest for bond millage rate out of the 614 districts in Ohio.

Olentangy Levy: the simple solution

Public school districts in Ohio must file a Five-Year Financial Forecast [1]with the state department of education each October, with an update in May. This forecast lists revenue and expenditures for the current fiscal year, as well as the next four fiscal years. In addition, the district must list the assumptions used to create the forecast.

Fair enough.

So, the district files its forecast in October 2007 stating that it will have a $2 million deficit at the end of FY09. The assumptions show that the assumed increase in base salaries is $1.93 million. On top of that, the district pays an additional 14% of employee salaries to the state retirement systems. This means that the increased salaries also increase the district's employee retirement contribution by $270,000. Therefore, the total cost for FY09 salary increases is more than the FY09 deficit. Got that?

So, negotiating a zero percent salary increase clears the deficit. [2]

Isn't that onerous? Not really. Keep in mind that teachers will still see an average increase for next year of 3.7%, based on step and education increases. Given that an average salary increase of 3.7% is above the standard for the private sector, and given that the district assumes it will fund an additional 12% of employee insurance costs -- well above the private sector, it's obvious that a levy failure and the implementation of this simply plan will keep things business as usual; not the catastrophe that the superintendent claims it is.

A simple solution.

note:

[1] The district's Five-Year Financial Forecast is here.
[2] Or, the district could control healthcare costs and still provide a salary increase, in addition to the step and education increases.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Money for Nothing

My latest article published by the Ludwig von Mises Institute (Mises.org).


Money for Nothing

By Jim Fedako
Posted on 11/16/2007
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If you want to expose the absurdity of the state, think governmental accounting. Really, there is no better way to show the impossibility of a government solution to scarcity than by reading the annual audit of any governmental entity.


Goethe considered double-entry bookkeeping — the essence of accounting — to be "one of the finest inventions of the human mind." For without accounting, we lose the ability to calculate, and without the ability to calculate, modern civilization is impossible.

Accounting lets the entrepreneur know whether he earned a profit, utilizing scarce resources in order to produce something of greater value. Accounting also lets the entrepreneur know whether activities he performs are better outsourced, or, conversely, whether he should expand into new orders of production. In essence, accounting directs the entrepreneur toward activities that satisfy the wants of the consumer.[1]

Government accounting is a true oxymoron. We can determine the cost of government, but what about the value produced? What is the product? What is its value? What is the bottom line? Of course, these unanswered questions do not stop government from playing business, pretending to create value and profit for society.

Governmental entities operate under the cash basis of accounting, tracking cash in and cash out. To direct their activities, these entities create budgets that list revenue and expenditures. Accounting then is simply the recording of cash flows against the budget. In this world, the cheered concept of fiscal accountability is the process of reporting how close the entity's final revenue and expenditures matched its approved budget. And nothing more.

This is an important point to note: whenever government officials speak of fiscal accountability, they are only considering approved budget versus actual spending. They are not referring to worthiness of expenditures, only whether or not they spent revenue according to the budget, with no outright theft of money. Oh, sure, the officials will claim that fiscal accountability means that money was spent on productive activities since, as expected, it is assumed by the governmental entity that only productive activities were approved in the budget. Circular reasoning.

With cash accounting, the cost of infrastructure investments — roads, bridges, buildings, etc. — is reported in the year it occurs, though the capital assets continue to have value or usefulness for years. Reporting cash flow misses the complete financial picture of the government entity, leaving this question unanswered: is it in a better financial position than the year before?

To answer that question, the Government Accounting Standards Board issued its Statement 34 in 1999. Annual reports that satisfy this statement supposedly detail the financial health of governmental entities as if these entities were profit-oriented businesses. Reporting is now done on the accrual basis of accounting, and assets are depreciated over their lifetime. This change provides a bottom line: net assets. With a view of either increasing or decreasing assets over liabilities, we can now determine a profit or loss of sorts.

Under this logic, when a governmental entity has more net assets this year than the prior year, it is in a better financial state — it has achieved a profit. Government can now report to its constituents whether or not it was able to take scarce resources and turn them into something of greater value. Socialism, here we come.

But not so fast. Government assets are the product of theft, not the result of satisfying the wants of consumers. A governmental entity with increasing assets is simply stealing more from taxpayers year after year. Ironically, the same holds true for a governmental entity that has decreasing assets. In either situation, more is being thieved, with nothing of value being created.

The implication is that a governmental entity that increases its tax revenue faster than its expenditures is performing a service for its constituents; the entity is achieving a profit for the taxpayers. Conversely, a governmental entity in a deficit cycle is creating a loss for its taxpayers. So, the more a government confiscates, the better off the taxpayers. Does that make sense? Down is up, and up is down. Somewhere, somehow, we ventured down the rabbit hole.

It is as if we are to cheer a government that taxes and builds since increasing assets count as profit, not waste. The public school district that builds a $50 million high school is bettering its financial position. Whether or not the high school produces anything of value is of no consideration. In government accounting, the cost itself is a benefit.[2] Of course, that is not how businesses serve the consumer, but, with government, we are through the looking glass.

The difference between government and business is the chain of taxation versus the dollar vote. The public school district taxes regardless of value produced. Once the bond issue passes the voters, the bill must be paid, to be enforced by the long, strong arm of government. On the other hand, the entrepreneur must face the consumer every day, product in hand, hoping to make a sale. The consumer can as easily bypass as enter his store, based on a whim if he so chooses. The taxpayer? Well, just try to hide.

If government is of the people, and I am one of the people, shouldn't I include changes in the net assets of my local school district in my financial portfolio? Since the local schools are my schools — or so the mantra goes — don't those changes have an impact on my finances? Shouldn't I record changes of district assets in my ledger?

Moreover, shouldn't I be able to sell my shares of the supposed public good and use the resulting proceeds for my benefit? Yes, I should. But, as I learned growing up in Allegheny County in southwestern Pennsylvania, the sign that reads, "Keep out, Property of Allegheny County," does not refer only to those who live outside the county; it means that even the taxpayers of Allegheny County have no right to that property.

The bottom line — increasing government net assets — is not my property; never was; never will be.


Jim Fedako, a homeschooling father of five who lives in Lewis Center, OH, maintains a blog: Anti-Positivist. Send him mail. See his archive. Comment on the blog.

Notes
[1] Of course, accounting has changed as taxation creates financial incentives to beat the taxman by showing as little profit as possible, but that is another article.
[2] During the Cold War, both the US and Soviet governments calculated Soviet GDP to include tractors rusting on the plains of the Ukraine. That the tractors had no real value to the local farmer was not considered. With government, cost is always recorded as value.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Olentangy Levy: Short of repetition, there's nothing more to say

There's really nothing more to say about the Olentangy levy. I am reposting my executive summary -- actually taxpayer summary. I encourage you to read all my other postings so you can understand that there is no need for the March levy.


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.

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.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

A Grand Insurance Plan

Your property tax dollars fund family heath insurance costs for district employees at over a $1000 per month ($1005.98 to be exact). Not a misprint! That certainly is a grand plan -- plus it's a lot of tax dollars.

By controlling these costs, the $2 million dollar deficit for FY09 disappears. A simple solution to the district's grand ol' cost problem.

This March levy is about spending more money. It's as simple as that.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Talk about scope creep

The Children's Hunger Alliance has expanded it's horizon, they now want Ohio state government to fight both hunger and obesity. Seems like a name change is in order.

Regardless, these nannies want government run more and more aspects of our lives. It's not enough for the state to provide breakfast and lunch, they now must enforce reduced caloric intake or mandate more activity.

When is enough, enough?

I have no issue with these folks grabbing the soapbox and attempting to influence individuals, but these folks want to force us all to live as they choose. Another example where the motto "Don't Tread on Me!" has been replaced by the the authoritarian "Do as I say!"

Olentangy Levy: What about my current tax burden?

Glad you asked.

The Ohio Department of Taxation reports the tax effort -- burden -- for each district in Ohio. Tax burden is defined as the amount of local school district taxes collected as a percentage of personal income. Despite the spin to the contrary, Olentangy has a relatively high tax burden. In fact, the district is the 101st highest ranked out of the state's 614 districts based on the tax department's latest report. It's all right here in Appendix D.


note: School-related property taxes in Olentangy are rising at an annualized rate of over 7% per year, meaning that school-related property taxes are taking an ever-increasing portion of the incomes of district residents. In fact, the district tax burden has increased 61% over the latest seven year's worth of department data.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Olentangy Levy: Three Card Monte

OK, here is a screenshot of the district's latest Five-Year Financial Forecast.[1] You will note the red circle near the bottom. This figure, and this figure alone, is the negative balance that the district must clear in order to satisfy the state. [2]

In a true slight-of-hand, the superintendent has been showing reporters line 6.010 under FY08 [3] and stating that this is the amount the state requires the district to clear; Three Card Monte in the administrative offices.




note:

[1] This is just a screenshot and not a complete page. Click on the screenshot to see a larger version (still incomplete though). In order to see the full page and the complete forecast, click here (links to the district website).

[2] Clearing the negative balance can be done by negotiating tighter contracts; they all end at the end of this school year.

[3] Come on now, he's pointing to the wrong fiscal year for goodness sake. This is a classic con, or sting for that matter.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Lying to the churches

I really don't understand how the superintendent and his administration can look their community in the eye and repeatedly lie, with Olentangy for Kids smiling and nodding in agreement.

These folks are threatening churches and other local organizations that, should the levy fail, district schools will be closed to the community. It's a great lie to spread since it creates an immediate need and a reason for those groups to campaign for the levy, but it's absolutely false.

According to Ohio law:

3313.76 Schoolhouses available for educational and recreational purposes.
Upon application of any responsible organization, or of a group of at least seven citizens, all school grounds and schoolhouses, as well as all other buildings under the supervision and control of the state, or buildings maintained by taxation under the laws of this state, shall be available for use as social centers for the entertainment and education of the people, including the adult and youthful population, and for the discussion of all topics tending to the development of personal character and of civic welfare, and for religious exercises. Such occupation should not seriously infringe upon the original and necessary uses of such properties. The public officials in charge of such buildings shall prescribe such rules and regulations for their occupancy and use as will secure a fair, reasonable, and impartial use of the same.

Effective Date: 10-01-1953 (emphasis added)

The superintendent cannot legally close the schools, and he knows it.

Yet, the superintendent, his administration, and their levy campaigners are now lying to churches and other organizations.

What lesson is being taught? That it's OK to lie as long as you get what you want? What about ethics and personal integrity.

Lying to churches? Hmmm.

Olentangy Ballot Issue: Fuzzy Math

From the district's ballot issue FAQ page:
What is on the ballot for Olentangy?
The March 4, 2008 request will include a combined bond issue and operating levy issue. The bond portion of the issue will appear on the ballot as 1.8 mills but will be collected at .82 additional mills. Olentangy is able to collect at a lower rate due to our rapid growth and debt repayment structure just as we did for the bonds for the 2004 and 2005 ballot issues.
In reality, the .82 advertised mills are a result of a number of factors, including the current over-collection of debt. That's right, the district is collecting more mills than it needs to keep the current bond millage high so that the additional millage on the ballot, and advertised by Olentangy for Kids, appears low.

I'm not going to go into the arcane world of school bond taxation save to say that the taxpayers vote on debt, not mills. And, that what appears to be is not always so.

Back check: Does anyone really believe that the district -- or anyone for that matter -- can miraculously have bond mills that remain steady between levies?

Of course not. There are too many volatile factors for the mills to neither increase nor decrease. The millage rate should have reduced over time -- due to a conservative bond structure and assumed valuation growth -- yet it continues remain at 7.9 mills.

The district continues to ask for 7.9 mills from the county auditor so that the advertised mills appear lower. But, you've been paying too much year over year.

Funny how they forget to mention that little fact.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Spin heard along the way

Spin: Olentangy has a relatively low cost per pupil.

True? Not when you take into account all district funds.

An example: According to the latest data available from the state, Olentangy's bond millage is the 31st highest out of the 614 school districts in Ohio. 31st? Wow, that's expensive! And, it's bound to get more expensive should the levy pass.

It is correct that growing districts pass bond mills to pay for new schools, but they also use bonds to pay for things that other districts fund through their operating budget; items such as capital improvements and technology. And, districts with older building are more likely to incur such expense.

Olentangy has a relatively large demand for new buildings which is offset by a relatively low demand for capital improvements. It's just like a new house versus an older one. The new one has a large mortgage while the older house has high costs for upkeep; normal wear and tear (roofs, AC, etc.)

So, only including the general -- operating -- fund does not tell the true story; a story you recognize when your property tax bill is due.

Olentangy Watch: The public records request

Besides Scott Galloway, the clock is running now on an three unfulfilled public records request. Day four has come and gone; no data. You would think that with the new push for open records, the district would satisfy this request in the timely manner specified by state law. Let's see where this goes.

Facts and Fictions

The following piece of fiction is from the district's levy FAQ page:

How Was the Cut/Reduction List Developed and What are the Cuts?

The list was developed using a combination of factors including the independent State Standard Analysis Report and the cut list from the 2004 operating levy. The superintendent stated that his intent was to protect core instruction as much as possible.

When asked, the district could provide no proof that the State Standards Analysis Report was ever used for planning purposes.[1] And, this is for certain, the board never discussed this report publicly. The board never once reviewed this report. That is fiscal irresponsibility.

Had the board reviewed this report when it was issued two years ago, they could have cleared with ease the $2 million deficit reported for FY09.

Yet, in the interim, the district carried on, business as usual, spending close to $300 million. Don't you think that with a little planning, the district could have found 7/10th's of a percent in cost savings over that time?

But here we are with a superintendent crying the end of the world, telling tales to get his levy passed. The reality is that, if the levy fails, the district negotiates a fair contract -- fair to teachers and taxpayers -- and programs remain.

Simple solutions to a superintendent's spending problem.


notes: I've posted on this report many times. It has as much chance of speaking its truths in public as Scott Galloway. The Galloway watch is fast approaching two weeks -- bunker mentality I suppose.

Friday, February 08, 2008

The Olentangy Watch: Why the silence?

I have never -- never -- met a politician who didn't seek the opportunity to defend his position. Could it be that Olentangy board president Scott Galloway's levy has no defense; it's illegitimate, and Galloway knows it.

Readers of this blog, consider why the board president does not defend his district's expenditures, especially given that he ran on a platform of controlled expenses and reduced levies. His silence alone is reason enough to question the March issue.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

The Olentangy Watch: A challenge

Has anyone ever received a response for Scott Galloway -- district school board president -- on any issue? I will keep my vigil until he responds to my request for clarifications -- though this could be a long wait.

Typically, when someone has a valid concept to sell, he is eager to get the word out. It appears that Galloway is fearful of being exposed. Why else would he be hiding from his levy? Hmmm.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

A Really Good Question

This question is in response to my most-recent post Reduces Spending. The question was this:
How do you figure teachers are getting a 7% increase in pay?
Here is my response:

One: Good point. I rounded, that's why I used the qualifier "almost." I will change the post to the actual percentage of 6.5%.

Two: Keep in mind I do not refer to teachers only, but staff. I use the readily available numbers so that readers can verify for themselves. I would guess that the average teacher increase is higher than the 6.5% noted above.

Three: Teachers have three salary components; the
negotiated increase that is reported in the papers, the step increase for additional years of experience (note that there are not step increases in every year), plus the education increase when teachers meet certain thresholds of additional post-graduate education hours. (note: These hours can include simple online course work that is not even close to their actual area of classroom instruction. The same as a computer programmer taking a real estate course and expecting a salary increase.)

Four: How can you verify my numbers? Look at the district's
Five-Year Financial Forecast. On page 6, you will find a brief explanation of the three components with their assumed increases (other than the negotiated increase of 2.75%). On page 7, you will find a chart with the salary components. Add the three components above (do not add in the New Staffing piece) and divide by the base wage value. The result is 6.5%.

Five: An additional check. Call the treasurer and ask what the budgeted increases are for the three components. She will give the answer in no time.

Six: Or, look at the union contracts on the district's website and see how salaries can advance. Pick a
teacher with (say) 10 years experience and a masters degree. Now, move the teacher to 11 years with a master plus 15, the result is a 9.8% salary increase (remember to include the assumed negotiated increase of 2.75% to the value in the current contract).

Enjoy!

Reduces Spending

In a real twist, it's the Democratic governor of Ohio committing to reduced spending.

Locally, things are much different. The Olentangy district is increasing costs, all with your hard-earned tax dollars. In a troubled economy, the district still wants to provide its employees with 6.5% salary increases, plan another 12% increase in healthcare costs. About time to tighten belts a little, don't you think.

Keep in mind that Scott Galloway, board president, is the treasurer of the Republican Party in Delaware County. Based on his desire for more of your tax dollars, it seems like it's time for a change in party leadership.

Who speaks for fiscal restraint anymore? Just the governor?

Friday, February 01, 2008

Setting the record straight

Three factual clarifications regarding the story on the Olentangy levy (School Cuts: Necessities or threats?):

1. The superintendent claims that the state requires the district to cut $10.5 million in FY09. False. The state only requires the district to right its reported $2 million negative carry-over balance for FY09. The other $8.5 million are pure threats.

2. The district must cut staff and programs. False. The district is reporting $7 million in salary and healthcare increases for its staff during FY09. Since all the union contracts are up for negotiations, controlled salary and healthcare increases would offset the negative balance and still provide staff with an additional $5 million in salary and benefits (still in line with private industry standards). To restate: The $2 million negative balance would be righted by simply reducing salary and benefits increases, no programs need to be cut.

3. The superintendent claims he cannot support deficit spending. False. His proposed levy includes deficit spending in the final year. All recent Olentangy levies have been based on a positive cash flow in year one; a more or less balanced cash flow in year two; and deficit spending in year three. To say he doesn't support deficit spending in the out-years is to say he doesn't support his own levy.

The facts can be found on the district's website by searching for the Five Year Forecast.

To my knowledge, this is the first Olentangy levy based on threats and false statements.