Friday, August 26, 2011

Adam J. White signs available


If you want a sign, leave a comment (which I will not post) that includes your name, address, and phone number, and I'll forward to Adam.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Adam J. White's Platform


Adam J. White for Olentangy School Board


My name is Adam J. White and I’m running for Olentangy School Board. I work in the private sector and spend my free time studying/participating in local politics and engaging government entities through personal interaction with our political leaders, writing letters to the editor and serving on the Republican Central Committee.

Despite many interactions with Olentangy School Board members and administrators to discuss escalating taxes and problems with Olentangy’s Curriculum, my efforts have been unsuccessful. Refusing to speak, answer or acknowledge my questions, the Olentangy School Board leaves me with only one option: Acquire a seat on the Olentangy School Board to penetrate the bureaucracy and start resolving the $400 million debt and curriculum problems.

The solutions to Olentangy’s problems are:
1.Cut Taxes
2.Curb Spending
3.Construct a Better Curriculum

The Olentangy School Board is responsible for creating a debt close to half a Billion dollar$. Olentangy is taxing the private sector for overpriced debt that is beyond the useful life of their purchases. For example, purchasing books (average life span of 7 years) with bond money (a.k.a. money from a 30 year loan) and taxing the public for an additional 23 years after the books are no longer being used. Unable to stop spending, Olentangy has resorted to passing permanent levies (taxes) and 30 year bonds (taxes).

Spending on entitlements for school employees is excessive and causes financial hardship on the private sector. Healthcare, retirement, mandatory pay increases, sick leave payout, and other lavish benefits given to every Olentangy school employee lack any comparison with the realities of private sector job benefits. While the private sector must contribute funds for the retirement plans of Olentangy employees, the Olentangy Administrative staff does not contribute anything toward their own retirement and will still receive approximately 66% of their highest earned salary at retirement. The 11% extra contribution from taxpayers toward the administrative staff’s retirement is not mandated (a.k.a not required by law) and should be eliminated from taxpayers’ expense.

While healthcare premiums, deductibles and out of pocket limits have increased dramatically for private sector employees over the past few years, Olentangy has maintained its zero dollar ($0) deductible and 100% coinsurance coverage plan for its employees at the taxpayers’ expense. Changing the employee healthcare deductible from $0 to $1000 could save $1.7 million dollars annually (based on 1,718 employees). Olentangy’s refusal to address any significant benefit cuts (Salary / Benefits are approximately 85% of the budget) is leading the way for the financial collapse of Olentangy and the taxpayers that support our district.

Furthermore, Olentangy and American schools have fallen behind the rest of the world in math, science and reading with their “Diversity” curriculum. Injecting “diversity” into every subject has jeopardized the teaching of basic skills in many ways. Olentangy’s continuous improvement plan divides students by skin color rather than scholarship. Olentangy’s curriculum advocates dependence on government rather than self and steers children toward the need for public services; thereby, increasing the size and cost of government and the size of your tax bill.

If the top school in America only ranked 25th against other countries in math, then where does Olentangy rank?


Adam J. White for Olentangy School Board
-Cut Taxes
-Curb Spending
-Construct a Better Curriculum

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Adam J. White for Olentangy School Board

From Adam:

I will be hosting a meet and greet this Sunday (8/28/11) at Hoggys on Polaris
from 1 to 3pm for those interested in hearing my views and/or showing support.
Drinks and appetizers will be served.

Adam J. White for Olentangy School Board

-Cut Taxes

-Curb Spending

-Construct a Better Curriculum

Monday, June 06, 2011

The next levy is in the works

Based on the district's rationale for needing levies, the next one is due in 2012. That's right, we just passed a 7.9 mill levy and the district is bleeding red. Amazing.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Political Doublespeek

In today's edition of the OVN, Wade-O claims that the district will be doing more with less -- and this after passing a $25 million levy. Doesn't he really mean more with more?

In addition, Feasel states she has her work cut out for her -- and this after identifying only $100,000 in cost reductions. What a way to put a dent in the budget (or is it really a ding, or maybe a scratch, or ...?).

Thursday, May 05, 2011

No promise made

A reader left this comment:
Jim,

To my knowledge, there was never a timeframe stated for how long this levy money is to last before another one is presented to voters. Do you know if this is true?

Also, what are your thoughts regarding district size? How much growth is permitted? Is there a stopping point or does the ogre just keep growing until tax burdens overwhelm the majority and "No" finally wins?
Great question. To my knowledge, no promise was made. So the district can be back in two years with its hand out once more.

Does anyone think the lack of a promise was an oversight?

Until the taxpayers yell, "Enough!" there is no stopping the ogre.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Voting yourself a raise and increased benefits

Once again, we can assume the levy passed on the vote of district employees and their spouses. And we know the levy was simply about money for raises, benefits, etc. So, in the end, the employees voted themselves a raise and increased benefits. Hmmm.

Note: I know, I know, the levy was about the cuts and the kids. But the cuts were the hammer used to pass the levy. Rein in costs and the levy wasn't needed.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Friendly reminder -- tax effective day was 122 days ago

During the campaign, Olentangy for Kids made this statement: These additional taxes will not be collected until 2012.

For those of us who escrow our tax payments, we are already four months behind. Remember, taxes are always paid in arrears. But they are effective the first day of the year in which a new levy is passed. That means this new levy is effective January 1, 2011.

Better tighten your belts extra hard today and begin making additional escrow payments. You don't want to face a big escrow catch-up bill early next year.

Note: The sweet irony is that as you tighten, others loosen.

It's OK to vote No

A reminder on election day!

The district can go back to the ballot in November with a scaled-down issue. -- Jim

Monday, May 02, 2011

OFK spins a response

In an earlier post, I rhetorically asked, "How do the current heads of OFK spin that little nugget?" Now I know (number 5 below).


Real quick response to the OFK response to my 10 reasons not to vote for the levy:


Intro: Is the bond expert the same district resident (is the expert even a district resident?) who also is the district bond consultant? If so, working the weekend was not just a freebie. I bring this up only because OFK makes the claim.

1. Bond Residuals: Call the money what you want. The interest earned is not an investment (I explain that in a couple of blog posts). The IRS does not allow governmental entities to make an arbitrage profit on tax-free bonds. So the interest is equal (dollar for dollar, for the most part) to the interest current residents have been paying on the bonds. In other words, if the revenue from the bonds earns 5%, the district can only earn 5% on its investment -- there can be no "money mak[ing] money."

2. Search the web for O'Brien's comments as reported in ThisWeekNews. He changed his story with his letter to the editor. Also note that Lucas's responses to my letter to the editor did not refute my claim about O'Brien's comments.

3. The district is using previously-taxed dollars to pay-down the current bond payments, so to speak. How is that forcing future residents to pay their fair share? The older levies actually did what they said.

4. The elementary cost is 32% higher than the last elementary ($10.035 million to $7.8 million). And that is an acceptable increase?

5. Check the current five-year forecast on the district website to see that the district planned to lower the ratio.

6. This response has never made sense. As I read it, if the levy fails, the district will ask for MORE money to offset the proposed cuts in state funding that will drive lower expenditures if the levy passes. Or something like that. The argument sounds good but does not hold up to scrutiny.

Some call it a threat, but it is really a lie

Olentangy district top news:

* NEW INFORMATION AVAILABLE REGARDING POTENTIAL BUSING CUTS
If the May 3 levy fails, Olentangy will no longer be able to provide the busing services that go above and beyond state requirements. That means that beginning with the 2011-12 school year, there would be no busing for high school students or any student in kindergarten through eighth grade who lives within two miles of his or her school. To assist parents in planning for this possibility, the transportation department has created maps showing the streets that are within two miles of each school and would therefore not receive bus service. Click here to view the maps. (emphasis mine)

Note the phrase "will no longer be able to provide." Now focus on "be able to." Had the district left out those three words, the statement would be a threat. But, in its current form, the statement is a lie.

Why support those who cannot be trusted?


Note: Why do the district and board lie if they have such a good story to tell? That is a valid question to ask Wade, Julie and the rest of the lot.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Reason #7 for not supporting the Olentangy levy

According to Responsible Olentangy Citizens, Sue Mahler, OFK core member emeritus, acting as district finance chair, "reported [to the school board] that the sooner we get to this number [student/teacher ratio of 15:1), the sooner OLSD can save millions."

Instead, the district is lowering the ratio in each year of the most-recent five-year forecast.

How do the current heads of OFK spin that little nugget?


Note: Why do the folks at OFK simply fall in line with the Wade Lucas / Julie Feasel nonsense?

Reason #6 for not supporting the Olentangy levy

The bond issue includes -- get this -- $13.5 million for a new elementary school. Given that the last elementary cost only $7.8 million, $5.7 million remain for (I was informed by the district treasurer) technology, loose furnishings and textbooks. That is $8,769 per pupil. Amazing! Amazingly expensive, that is.

Add it up (and I am being charitable here):

  • use of a computer, network, etc. -- $1,000
  • a desk and chair - $150
  • textbooks - $250
  • misc - $1,000

So, where is the remaining $6,369 per student?

Hint: It's not in your wallet.

Read this entry to see what the district does with excess bond funds -- your money. And remember, the district HAS sufficient bond residuals to build the new elementary.

Olentangy Levy: Feasel's Fictitious Financing

School board president Feasel claims the district "already cut $15.7 million" since 2008. Interesting. But from where?

Certainly not staffing, since staffing is increasing relative to students. So where were the cuts made? Hold that thought.

I just cut $1 trillion from my family budget. How, you ask? Well, I had assumed that we needed $1 trillion in additional expenses this year. Then I came to my senses and realized I didn't. But a cut is a cut. So I cut $1 trillion. You just gotta love Feasal financing.

The district has cut nothing.

Of, sure, they pared back their inflated five-year forecasts. But that is not cutting, just as my $1 trillion example is not cutting.

So take Feasal and her fictitious financing for what they are: nonsense.

Note: The folks over at OFK know better. But they have a levy to sell. And the truth is the first thing to go in campaign.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Wade-O lies again

Oh, wait. I am being redundant.

In his reply to me letter in The Dispatch, Wade-O claims that the almost 9% forecasted health care cost increases is due to new staff. Wrong. His own five-year financial forecast has premiums rising by almost 9% annually. In addition, there are costs associated with new employees. So the total is HIGHER than than 9%.

Wade-O amazes me.

Note: Not really.

Wade-O changes his story

In his response to my letter in The Dispatch, Wade-O drops the zero base salary increase claim he made in his response to my letter in the Delaware Gazette? Why the change? Was it a lie?

Take the Wade-O challenge: Search the Ohio Department of Taxation website for the term "tax effort." You will not find Wade-O's definition of tax effort there. So why does he make that claim and reference the tax department? Another lie?

Wade-O, changing your story doesn't say much for your truthfulness.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Reason #5 the Olentangy levy is not needed

OFK is lying when it states the following in regard to the supposed no-additional-millage bond component of the levy, "Current residents should see NO increase in their tax rate for school bonds, which results in future residents paying more than they would have under a 'traditional' debt structure."

An internal document obtained through a public records request shows current residents paying the greater portion. Why? The district is using residual funds (which current residents are paying off) to reduce the millage in the early years.

Future residents will pay the same as a "traditional" debt structure. And both the district and OKF know they are lying about this one.













Note: Wade Lucas has pulled a few fast ones in his short tenure in Olentangy. For Feasel, it's as expected. For OFK, dangling from the puppeteer's strings are leading the organization down the wrong path.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Reason #4 why the levy is not needed

The Ohio Department of Transportaton produces a report for regular education transportation. Sorted by the efficiency ratio statistic, Olentangy's transportation department ranks 303 in transportation efficiency.

Oletangy needs to improves its transportation department and give the efficiencies back to the taxpayers.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Yet another reason not to support the Olentangy Levy

Wade-O lies.

I had a letter published in the Delaware Gazette -- the very same letter published in The Dispatch yesterday. Turns out Wade and treasurer Jenkins replied ... and lied.

Here is my response, hopefully the Gazette will publish it:

Dear Editor:

There is a difference between obfuscation and lying. In their response to my letter (4-21-11), Olentangy superintendent Wade Lucas and treasure Rebecca Jenkins provide examples of both.

They obfuscate when they imply the Ohio Department of Taxation terms tax effort a simple ranking of districts by school millage equivalents. Here is the department's definition of tax effort: it is the percentage of income in a school district that is paid for residential and agricultural property taxes and school district income taxes.

District residents currently a pay high percentage of their income in the form of school-related taxes. Today, the district ranks in the top 10% statewide based on the department's tax effort calculation. The district has been moving up in rank over the past 10 years, a trend that will continue with the passage of this latest levy.

Lucas and Jenkins obfuscate with regard to bond residuals. According to page 57 of the district's 2010 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (available on both the district and state auditor websites), the district performed "a one time transfer of $12,200,000 to the other Capital Project fund from the Building fund."

Last year, Lucas and Jenkins, in essence, hid $12 million of bond funds and then have the nerve to turn around and claim otherwise.

Lucas and Jenkins lie when they state the five-year financial forecast does not include close to 6% average salary increases. Furthermore, they lie when they claim the forecast provides for "no base wage increase during the first three years."

Page 8 of the district's October five-year financial forecast (available on both the district and Ohio Department of Education websites) shows forecasted pay increases of $1,978,722 in fiscal year 2013, the first year of the new levy. This is a 2% average increase -- not the zero percent Lucas and Jenkins claimed in their response.

Add in the step increase and education advance and the average salary increase is close to 6%. And this continues for all subsequent years of the forecast.

If obfuscation is not a action residents want from their public officials, what about lying?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Reason #3 why the Olentangy Levy is not needed

O'Brien, the latest addition to the Olentengy school board, has said that the district has "pledged to pursue budget reductions of about $5.5 million during the next three years.

Why is the district waiting UNTIL a levy passes before enacting the O'Brien reductions?

The current issue is overstated by millions. And O'Brien agrees with at least $5 million of that.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Reason #2 for not supporting the levy

A statistic tauted by the district is the average salary for district teachers. Interesting finding: since fiscal year 2006, the average salary for district teachers has increased at over twice the rate of the average salary for residents -- 18% to 8%.

Twice.

And this does not include the average cost of benefits.

Any wonder why the district school-related property tax burden is soon to be top 20 in the state.

Note: Number used above are from the Ohio Department of Education's Cupp Report.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Reason #1 the Olentangy levy is unneeded

The district currently has sufficient bond residuals to fund the $24.4 million on the ballot. Where is the money? $12 million of bond residuals was moved into the permanent improvement fund last year. Why was it moved there? I'm not certain. But I know that it is not going to be used for permanent improvements. That's right. An internal district document shows that money being set aside other purposes. Another $5.5 million is sitting in the bond fund, and just like the $12 million in the permanent improvement fund, unspent on previous projects. So, assuming the listed projects and expenses are needed (and should be funded over 27 years), the district has sufficient bond residuals (if they trim just some of the fat, of course).

Why trust OFK? They can't even get their own history straight

From the Olentangy for Kids website:
Why should you trust Olentangy For Kids? Good question! Before 1999, Olentangy’s levy campaigns were run primarily by school district employees – board members, administrators, etc. That’s still fairly commonplace across Ohio. But there are two problems with that. First, to a community member, that “campaigning” sometimes seemed self-serving. Secondly, because of that vested interest, community members sometimes were suspicious of the facts that were provided by the district’s campaign. Not surprisingly, Olentangy often lost its ballot issues. They made it their business to research and verify all campaign information and to take responsibility to distribute that information to their fellow community members. Since then, nearly 1,000 conscientious and diligent community members step up to research and prepare campaign information and to distribute it to their neighbors. We do our best to validate and verify. We’re your neighbors who care so much about our kids’ future and our community’s future that we get involved – investing our time, energy, and expertise.
Oh, where to begin?

No group of concerned citizens ever "stepped up and took the campaign reins away from the district." Never happened. And I should know, as I served as OFK co-chair in 1998 and 1999. The issue prior to 1999 was organizational -- it was not an issue of district control. (Homework: Find the newspaper articles from 1998 where I lambasted the board for doing nothing during the 1998 levy campaign.)

That said, district officials participated in OFK before 1999, just as they participated in the 1999 levy and are participating in this year's levy. (Homework: Ask OFK to list the members of its strategy committee since 1999 and count how many years superintendents and communication directors served.)

Despite the claim, the "vested interest" still exists. (Homework: Ask the Delaware County Board of Elections for the OFK finance reports for the past 10 years and see who contributes to the committee -- compare community contributions with those from district employees and vendors.)

Research is only as good as those researching. During the 1999 campaign, I personally researched and answered every email sent to the committee. And my answers were not cut-n-pastes from documents provided by the district's communication department. There were a few other strong members on the early committees, but they are long gone. (Homework: Ask any of the "1,000 conscientious and diligent community members" to explain bond funding to see how well-researched the volunteers really are.)

So, why should you trust OFK? You shouldn't. Trust them only as far as you trust the district officials -- because it is district officials guiding the strategy committee, regardless of who the figure head chair is these days.

The OFK of today simply repeats what the district spoon-feeds it.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Statistics as a blunt instrument

The folks over at Olentangy for Kids are trying to use statistics to prove that property values are directly linked to the local school district. But their statistics are blunt and their conclusions dull -- but their conclusions tell the story they want told ... just like that old saying, "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."

Here is
their analysis: Scioto Reserve – In the Scioto Reserve subdivision, some of the homes are part of Olentangy, while others are part of Buckeye Valley. Here is a comparison of home sales in 2010 within that subdivision:
Interestingly, I analyzed this very same question five years ago. So I figured I would analyze it once again.

To get the data (I have no idea which hat OFK pulled their data from), I went to the county auditor's site and pulled recent sales figures (from January 2010 to present) for houses (not condos) in Scioto Reserve. I then filtered out new construction (new construction sales have not been tested by the market) as well as any sale not considered an arms-length sale (there is a column on the auditor's sales report that shows valid sales). This is my data.

I then ran some statistical models (you can download a demo version of my favorite tool, NLREG, from NLREG.com) in order to see what the data say (if anything).

It turns out that there is little difference between sale prices in Scioto Reserve based on the district alone. In fact, no one should make any claim whatsoever regarding the effect of the district on property value (based on Scioto Reserve as the sample). None whatsoever.

This is the same conclusion I reached when I previously analyzed Olentangy and Buckeye Valley, as well as Olentangy and Big Walnut.

But I am certain that OFK will continue using the dull conclusions of their blunt statistics.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Phantom Committee Strikes Again

How does a committee that hasn't met in seven months issue media releases? How has it "made it easy for you to make your voice heard?"

This is the product of a district running a pseudo levy campaign by making stuff up right and left.


A CALL TO ACTION!
from Olentangy's School Funding Action Committee

Help the School Funding Action Committee fight the proposed state budget cuts for our schools!

The proposed budget will be hard on many school districts, but its impact on Olentangy is unparalleled due to our continued growth. Our district lost nearly $13 million in Fiscal Year (FY) 2010/2011 and will lose an additional $9 million in anticipated state revenue in FY 2012/2013 due to the previous governor's change to the Evidenced Based Funding Model. The newly proposed budget would cost the district an additional $3.3 million (44% more) of basic funding in FY 2012. In addition, the acceleration of the phase out of the Tangible Personal Property Tax reimbursement is going to force the district to make $11 million of additional cuts through FY 2014.

The School Funding Action Committee has made it easy for you to make your voice heard. Just click here to access the instructions for sending lawmakers a pre-written letter or your own thoughts on the issue.

Thank you for taking the time to help keep Olentangy a great place to live and learn!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Reason #9 why the levy is not needed

Taxpayers are picking up the pickup and the pickup of the pickup -- and the pick up medicare.

For state retirement, the school district and the employee contribute to the employee's retirement -- unless the employee works for Olentangy, of course.

In Olentangy, the district -- which means the taxpayers -- "picks up" the employee contribution. In addition, since the district picked up the employee's contribution, that amount is considered income and subject to retirement contributions, from both the district and employee. The district -- taxpayers, once again -- "picks up" the employee contribution on the original "pickup," the pickup on the pickup.

So administrator income is actually 11% higher than advertised.

Make sense?

It doesn't have to. But you pay for it anyway.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Yards signs available

If you are looking for a Vote No sign, leave your name, address and phone number in a comment (will not be published) and someone will leave a sign in your yard. -- Jim

Friday, April 15, 2011

Reason #8 for not supporting the levy

Olentangy for Kids loves to flaunt this graph -- it's the lead banner of the OFK dog and pony show:

Add 7.9 mills to Olentangy and the district is the only behind Bexley as far as school taxes.

Ten years ago, the district was one of the lowest taxed in the area. Now it is heading for second place.

Note: Ironically, the graph is under the heading, "My taxes seem high. Why is that?" Ok. Let me take that bait. Could the reason your taxes seem high be because they are high? Hmmm.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Olentangy for Kids and the law

This all seems like yesterday. OK, it all seems like last levy.

You remember, the bogus opinion from 2008 regarding the district's (supposed) ability to close schools to the public should the levy fail. Now it's a bogus opinion claiming that OFK does not have to pay for the use of school facilities, despite this opinion being in conflict with state law, board policy, and the opinion of the state attorney general.

District treasurer Rebecca (Becky) Jenkins has been nice enough and responsive. But she is not the responsible party here, that lies elsewhere.

Regardless, the district's tax consuming legal council is once again providing opinions that suit the needs of the district. According to an email from Jenkins, "He (legal council) basically said the Board is not required to charge OFK for facility use."

Not required? In violation of state law, board policy, and the opinion of the state attorney general?

I think I'll request a copy of the legal council's bill for his opinion -- it always nice to quantify the value of our tax dollars at work.

Here is my latest email to Jenkins:



Becky,

Per Kevin McIver chief of the opinions section of the office of the state attorney general, opinion 91-064 still stands and OFK must pay reasonable fees. I assume that you value an AG opinion over the verbal opinion of your legal council. Let me know whether the district intends to comply with state law.

In addition, according to board policy, for OFK to use district facilities, "[a] facility use agreement must be executed and approved prior to its use by any nonschool Board sponsored group."

I request that you provide me the use agreement that is currently in effect.

Also, let me know which fee group listed in the board policy includes OFK.

Thanks.

Jim

I wonder if the OFK volunteers know what nonsense goes in on order to pass a levy. Is anything beyond the pale?

OFK volunteers: When you face your neighbor, remember the actions of your committee reflect on you.


Note: Here is the relevant section of the Ohio Revised Code. It is unambiguous -- unless, just maybe, your dance is for the tax dollar.

3313.77 Use of schoolhouses and grounds for public meetings and entertainments.
The board of education of any city, exempted village, or local school district shall, upon request and the payment of a reasonable fee, subject to such regulation as is adopted by such board, permit the use of any schoolhouse and rooms therein and the grounds and other property under its control, when not in actual use for school purposes, for any of the following purposes:

(A) Giving instructions in any branch of education, learning, or the arts;

(B) Holding educational, religious, civic, social, or recreational meetings and entertainments, and for such other purposes as promote the welfare of the community; provided such meetings and entertainments shall be nonexclusive and open to the general public;

(C) Public library purposes, as a station for a public library, or as reading rooms;

(D) Polling places, for holding elections and for the registration of voters, or for holding grange or similar meetings. Within sixty days after the effective date of this section, the board of education of each school district shall adopt a policy for the use of school facilities by the public, including a list of all fees to be paid for the use of such facilities and the costs used to determine such fees. Once adopted, the policy shall remain in effect until formally amended by the board. A copy of the policy shall be made available to any resident of the district upon request.

Effective Date: 08-29-1975

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Olentangy for Kids: time for a math check

Olentangy for Kids loves to flaunt this graph -- it's the lead banner of the OFK dog and pony show:

Add 7.9 mills to Olentangy and the district is the only behind Bexley as far as school taxes.

Ten years ago, the district was one of the lowest taxed in the area. Now it is heading for second place.

Note: Ironically, the graph is under the heading, "My taxes seem high. Why is that?" Ok. Let me take that bait. Could the reason your taxes seem high be because they are high? Hmmm.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Olentangy School District: taxpayers looking for the truth

The Buckeye Institute has a database of the salaries of all public school employees (the Institute has other searchable public employee databases, as well). According to its latest email, these are the top searches for March by district:

Teacher Salary
1. Gahanna-Jefferson City (4,570)
2. Columbus City (3,549)
3. Olentangy Local (3,342)
4. Cleveland Metropolitan (3,323)
5. Akron City (3,113)

Get the feeling that Olentangy would rather not be number 3 on this list (the district was number 3 inFebruary, as well)? Wonder why so many people are concerned about district salaries? Hmmm. Note: The database is not complete, but it is a start. It does not list the value is all benefits, such as the pickup, the pickup on the pickup, etc.

Yard signs

If you are looking for a Vote No sign, leave your name, address and phone number in a comment (will not be published) and someone will leave a sign in your yard. -- Jim

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Olentangy for Kids: roots planted firmly in the central office

OFK is grassroots? Relies on community support? Hmmm.

Some of the roots of OFK are planted firmly in the district's central office. Other roots are still pulling nutrients from some real blasts-from-the-past (Hint: Go to the OFK Twitter page to see who OFK follows -- the first letters of one begins with Avak, another Joel.)


From the OFK website:

Olentangy for Kids is a grassroots group of Olentangy residents dedicated to educating the community about the upcoming levy. Our goal is to provide the voters of Olentangy with the facts surrounding the upcoming ballot issue so that they can make an informed decision at the polls.

Olentangy for Kids is completely funded by private donations and relies on community support through our network of volunteers.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Olentangy for Children

Oh, no! More competition. First it was Responsible Olentangy Citizen, now it's Olentangy for Children. Check out OFC on Facebook. Hey, this kind of competition is good.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Wade Lucas: Manipulating the Masses

Another repost about Wade-O -- Jim

Regardless of their value, Hilliard and Worthington have community-run websites that question their respective school districts. These are sites organized and run by folks in the community. And they go by these names:
educatehilliard.org and educateworthington.org. Again, regardless of their value, these are community-run sites.

Now, venture over to
educateolentangy.org. Wade-O and his propagandist over at the Olentangy School District recently bought their domain in order to play Olentangy residents. In other words, taxpayers are once again being played with their very own, hard-earned tax dollars.

Has Olentangy no shame?

Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Wade Lucas Gambit

A repost so you can see what Wade-O is all about -- Jim


You know the story: Good ol' Wade -- the selfless educator and public servant -- just wants to help the kids, so he accepts the offer from the Olentangy board of education. Since Wade can be trusted, there is no need to agree to a contract at the time of offer. We are all family here. Right?

Everthing goes swimmingly until its time to agree to the specifics: the dollars -- salary and benefits. Then, old Wade loses the facade of altruism and goes for the big bucks. Hey, he has the board backed into a corner since the board already announced his imminent arrival, and he knows it. Sure, the super majority of the board is a bunch of hacks, but is that reason enough to beat up the taxpayer?

So, the Olentangy taxpayers gets Wade as the new superintendent -- a public servant who is out for himself. He out-maneuvered the board and now the community has to pay his outrageous salary. And, when he retires, the taxpayers of Ohio are on the hook for over $200K per year. Think about that, Wade is going to retire with a tax-funded income of close to one-quarter million dollars per year.

I guess the selfless public servants in education need to be insulated from our current financial crisis -- they are only about the kids, you know.

All about the kids? Nope. It's all about Wade. He outplayed the board and nailed the taxpayer. And he hasn't even started working yet. Here we go again.

Note: The board is voting on his contract today at 5:30. Go and give Wade a big hello for the taxpayers who are paying, and paying, and paying ...

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Olentangy Levy: Where's the support?

Last fall, the district commissioned a survey with your tax dollars. What was stated loud and clear is the residents are not supportive of an unneeded levy. Only 36.8% of those surveyed were supportive of a 7.9 mill operating levy and no-additional mills bond levy.

And that support fell when the cost was conveyed to those being surveyed. Even after being made aware of the threatened cuts, 58.5% stated they were less likely to support the issues once the $242 per $100,000 accessed valuation was stated.

First Powell taxpayers defeated their income tax issue. Now it is time for the district taxpayers to stand up against out-of-control district spending.


Notes:

1. The survey is public record. If you want a copy, request it from the district treasurer.



Friday, March 25, 2011

The Baird Preliminary Financing Plan

Here's the document from Baird detailing what I have been posting:


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Funding the bond with dollars taxed years ago

First, a point to consider: The debt fund is the fund that is evaluated by bond rating agencies. During the last levy campaign, the district claimed that rating agencies look at the general fund. Not true. They do look at the debt fund to make certain that the district has sufficient tax revenue in the current year for maturing bonds and interest. The concern is that an increase of taxpayers in default would leave the district with insufficient funds to make required payments. So the district needs to carry some balance. Some balance. Not $27 million.

What of the $12.2 million transfer from the building fund to the permanent improvement fund? Well it's moving into the debt fund -- according to the "2011 Preliminary Financing Plan" prepared by Baird -- in order to allow the district to claim that it is benefiting current taxpayers over future taxpayers..

This is all esoteric financing. Let's take a look at what is being advertised.

Olentangy for Kids makes this claim in response to its FAQ "How does a "no additional mill" bond levy work?"
This bond issue will be listed on the ballot as being for .50 mills. However, due to rapid growth, it will be collected at no additional mills.

This plan addresses growth while keeping our tax rates low. Current residents should see NO increase in their tax rate for school bonds, which results in future residents paying more than they would have under a “traditional” debt structure.

Structuring the bond debt in this fiscally responsible manner creates a situation in which future residents pay more of their fair share. Those already living in the district will see a much lower millage than they would have under traditional debt funding.
First off, relative rapid growth is history. Yes, the district is growing, but not at the same percentage as years past.

So the district is now unable to structure the upcoming issue in order to meet this claim -- the claim is a lie.

The district is using your tax dollars -- taxes you overpaid in previous years -- to offset what would have been in increase in bond mills.

Think of it this way: Last year the district taxed you at 10 mills. This year they only needed 9 mills but taxed you at the same 10 mills. Next year (should the levy pass) they will need 11 mills but will only tax you at 10, and they will offset the 11th mill with the mill you overpaid this year.

Debt isn't being pushed into the future so that incoming resident pay more. There is no "fair share" to be paid by new residents. You have already paid for a benefit that will be reaped by new residents. If you believe otherwise, you have been snookered by the board and administration.

So here is what the district plans to do: It will begin setting itself up for future levy (say 2014) that will increase your taxes. You will overpay -- pay more than what is required -- and the district will bank that money and then claim that it will run a "no additional mills" levy for the subsequent issue. But you will have already paid the additional mills.

You have overpaid the district $27 million dollars (almost a year's worth of total bond payments). And now it claims that it is going to keep your taxes flat -- as if it is doing you a favor.

The $12.2 million fund transfer is part of the ruse to bolster a claim that is nothing short of a lie.

Amazing.

Note: The report from Baird shows that a traditional levy would have averaged 5.91 mill to be paid. The "no additional mills" structure reduces the millage to an average of 5.87 mills. So the distict will save the taxpayer an average of .04 mills? Nope. In order to save us an average of .04 mills, we had to have already overpaid the district some $14 million dollars.

-- end series --

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The nonsense of "No Additional Mills"

Next we need to discuss how "no additional mills" levies fit into all of this.

When I was on the board, before Olentangy placed its first and only "no additional tax" levy on the ballot, I met with the then-treasurer of a nearby district. This treasurer may have created the first instance of a "no additional tax" levy in Ohio -- a "no additional tax" levy is more strict, so to speak, than a "no additional mills" levy. So he was very informative.

Here's what he explained: When a district wants to run "no additional mills" levies, it must never let it's bond millage rate drop. Never. That is true even if the district does not need the additional revenue to pay back the maturing bonds.

Why? Because if the millage drops, then the district will have to ask for additional mills on the next ballot.

Think of if this way: If the millage required to pay currently maturing bonds dropped below 8.72 mills (say to 7.72 mills), then the district couldn't have claimed it was structuring this next bond issue as "no additional mills." It would have had to say that it was asking for an additional mill. So your taxes did not go down -- you overpaid -- just so that the district could make a nonsense claim.

The district overtaxes residents in order to claim that it is saving taxpayers money. Did you get that?


But it's not saving money. It is taking dollars from your wallet and sitting on them, only to turn around and pretend that it was all for your benefit.

Thanks a lot.

This is another reason why the district is sitting on a year's worth of bond-related tax dollars.


First we learned about the interest benefit. Now we have learned about the slick selling pitch.

With this background, tomorrow we can address the movement of $12.2 million from the building fund to the permanent improvement fund.

-- end part 2 --


Monday, March 21, 2011

I knew it would happen ...

A reader wanted to better understand the reason the district moved $12.2 million from the building fund to the permanent improvement fund. It's a complicated explanation, but it is spring break, so let's get technical for a couple of days.

Bonds 101

The district has a number of funds. For this series, we are only concerned with four funds: general, building, debt, and permanent. The general fund is for general operating expenses. The building fund is where the proceeds from the sale of bonds are initially deposited. The debt fund is where tax revenue to pay the maturing bonds is deposited. The permanent improvement fund is used for various capital expenditures (in general, improvements that have a life of five years or more).

Once a bond levy is approved by the voters, the district is authorized to sell bonds not to exceed the amount or length designated on the ballot. The district is not required to sell the bonds in the amount listed on the ballot, it can sell less. Though the authorization to sell, if unused, expires after five years.

The district does not have to sell all authorized bonds at once. And it can select various maturity dates. In essence, the district creates its own payment plan.

Let's assume the district passed a $1 million levy to build a new bus depot. The issue was advertised to be for a bus depot, but the ballot language authorizes the district to spend the $1 million on just about anything (read the actual ballot language before voting). So the district could sell the bonds and use the funds to renovate some administrative suites.

The bonds are packaged and sold and the proceeds deposited into the building fund. The next tax year, the district can choose (within bounds, of course) the mills to be collected the following year. The mills are collected and deposited into the debt fund.

I'll play nice and have the district build its bus depot. The payments are likely staggered, maybe over two years (depending on the build time). The unused money in the bond fund does not sit idle. It is invested and earns an interest return.

Since school bonds are tax-exempt, they are subject to IRS arbitration rules. Arbitration stops issuers of tax-exempt bonds from a earning profit from the spread between the interest on the bonds and the interest earned on investments. For the most part (with a few exceptions), any interest "profit" is "taxed" by the feds.

That said, the district pays no interest -- the taxpayers do. So, even though the district cannot earn a nominal profit, it can and does earn a real profit since it receives interest from the invested bonds proceeds while the taxpayers pay the interest on the bonds.

All interest earned from bonds is deposited in the general fund. This means that taxpayers are funding operating expenses with 27-year (for the most part) loans. Hmmm.

The district can overtax -- ask for more mills and hence more revenue than it needs to pay the bonds that are maturing. Again, money does not sit idle in the debt fund, it is invested and earns the district an interest return. Arbitration is not an issue here.

So it benefits the district over the taxpayer to sell more bonds than needed and tax more than is required.

It's no wonder that the district has close to $27 million over the various funds (including, since last year, the permanent improvement fund -- more to follow) more than it needs.

And it's no wonder that the district does its very best to hide those funds from their true owners -- the taxpayers.

--end part 1--

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Reason #1 the Olentangy levy is unneeded

The district currently has sufficient bond residuals to fund the $24.4 million on the ballot. Where is the money? $12 million of bond residuals was moved into the permanent improvement fund last year. Why was it moved there? I'm not certain. But I know that it is not going to be used for permanent improvements. That's right. An internal district document shows that money being set aside other purposes. Another $5.5 million is sitting in the bond fund, and just like the $12 million in the permanent improvement fund, unspent on previous projects. So, assuming the listed projects and expenses are needed (and should be funded over 27 years), the district has sufficient bond residuals (if they trim just some of the fat, of course).

Saturday, March 19, 2011

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Olentangy for Kids: Are they breaking the law?

State law permits a political action committee (such as Olentangy for Kids) to use school facilities as long the PAC pays a reasonable fee and allows the meetings to be open to the public.

Has OFK been using district facilities without paying?

According the the district treasurer, there is no record of any such payment to the district.

The story is developing.



Note: OFK volunteers, I hope you hold your organization to the letter of the law.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

We are all posthuman

It's been a while since I last posted an excerpt from the magazine for teachers of teachers, Teachers College Record, published by the folks at the Teachers College of Columbia University.

From
Education Out of Bounds: Reimagining Cultural Studies for a Posthuman Age:

"Exopedagogy therefore is both the means and end to a particular posthumanist vocation irreducible to professional occupation but taking over the whole space located out of bounds yet permeated with a new vision of untimely love together with the new image of thought and posthumanist education." (emphasis in original)

By the way, what's the probability that the above grouping of words -- the concluding sentence of the article -- holds any operational meaning?

Hint: Zero.

You knew it was coming

The Ohio School Board Association is claiming drastic district financial losses since the one-time inflow of federal stimulus money is not being replaced. Not being replaced? It was a one-time inflow of federal dollars (printed paper that is driving our current inflation, but I digress). One-time. It was never going to be replaced.

Instead of using the money to assist with the pain resulting from the realities of a downturned economy, Ohio's school districts (Olentangy included) spent the money as if the bubble never burst.

Well, it's time to burst the bubble of the unrealists who run school districts.

Folks, the money is no longer here (in our wallets), so it can't be there (in your budgets). Make your adjustments -- just like we all made adjustments -- and get on with life.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The (il)logic of Dave King

Dave King, Olentangy board member, has always been the Ringo to Feasel's Yoko and Galloway's John. King has never had much to say. And now I know why.

In his
letter to the editor in today's Dispatch, King shows little grasp of elementary logic. Elementary illogic? Maybe.

The non sequitur:

King, in his own words, "We all gain by safe neighborhoods, engaged and successful families and businesses, an attractive workforce, higher property values and broader opportunities."

So how do my school district property tax dollars lead to an attractive workforce? Do my dollars fund cosmetology, skin care, clothing, etc? Hmmm.

OK, cheap shot. But fun nonetheless.

King makes a leap in logic when he attributes the above characteristics to a school district. Does the school district really cause families to be engaged and successful? Or is he just being circular and wanting to state the opposite causation? Or does he even know?

Petitio principii

King, again in his own words, "Our administration has successfully demonstrated that we must have an effective balance between the educational opportunities that we enjoy with the attendant cost."

Can you spot the logical fallacy here? Hint: It's called begging the question.

Our administration has demonstrated what? How?

The administration may have argued for something called balance. But they have never demonstrated it.

We are in debt to you

Finally, there is this comment, "Our community accrues the benefits of a highly regarded school district and its graduates."

Our community and our children accrue only the district's debt, which stands at $390 million, give or take.

This may all explain why King has a "strong trust in the value of education as both immediate and longterm." Immediate and longterm what?

I think King's adjectives were looking to qualify these two nouns: taxes and debt.

But we knew that already.

Monday, March 14, 2011

$8,769 per student in technology, loose furnishings, and textbooks

That's right. The bond issue includes -- get this -- $13.5 million for a new elementary school. Given that the last elementary cost only $7.8 million, $5.7 million remain for (I was informed by the district treasurer) technology, loose furnishings and textbooks. That is $8,769 per pupil. Amazing! Amazingly expensive, that is.

Add it up (and I am being charitable here):

  • use of a computer, network, etc. -- $1,000
  • a desk and chair - $150
  • textbooks - $250
  • misc - $1,000

So, where is the remaining $6,369 per student?

Hint: It's not in your wallet.

Read this entry to see what the district does with excess bond funds -- your money. And remember, the district HAS sufficient bond residuals to build the new elementary.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Olentangy for Kids: more nonsense

According to OFK: •Money raised through the issuance of bonds can only be used for the building of new buildings, remodeling of existing buildings, purchase of land for future buildings or purchase of new equipment (like buses and textbooks). The money cannot be used for operating expenses, which include staff salaries, utilities and everyday expenses.

According to an entry from a district report of bond expenditures obtained through a public records request: "PO: 2608969 ITM: 0002 05/15/2006 Des: REPAINT TOILET PARTITIONS AND Vendor: 006771 - A.K.PAINTING COMPLETELY PAID"


Isn't painting a toilet partition an everyday expense?

To be certain, there is many more instances where 27-year bonds are used to fund operating expenses.

This means your children will still be paying for this repainting decades from now -- a repainting that will not last a year.

Government debt spending gone mad.

The district will continue to get away with this nonsense as long as the taxpayers support unneeded levies.

Note to OFK volunteers: You are selling nonsense to your neighbors. Is that what you want to be doing?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Olentangy School District

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Friday, March 11, 2011

Your tax dollars used against you

School districts in Ohio fund the operations of the Ohio School Boards Associations (OSBA). OSBA then turns around and lobbies the state to directly benefit district administrators. This is to be expected since OSBA is run, for the most part, by retired school administrators.

The latest OSBA email reads:

Additionally, after careful review of SB 5, we believe one specific provision would have unintended consequences. The bill would eliminate the authority for school boards to pay the "employee share" of contributions to the school employee and teacher retirement systems. Often, this practice applies only to district administrators. Like adjustments in salaries, school boards have used this tool to mange the overall compensation and benefits package for employees.

This provision could cause changes in compensation that disproportionately affect some employees, but not others. We have asked for this provision to be removed, allowing boards the flexibility to address the issue locally, but requiring the appropriate transparency practices described in other parts of the bill.


In other words, school administrators are using your tax dollars to have OSBA lobby to keep the pickup, and the pickup on the pickup.

The real nonsense is the comment about "appropriate transparency." The whole point of the pickups is to hide compensation from the public.

Have these people no shame?

Note: The OSBA contribution is not listed on the cut plan. No kidding.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Scooped by the ROC: the challenge is on

It appears I still live in the halcyon days of relatively low taxes and reasonable district spending. And so I missed this little nugget found by Responsible Olentangy Citizens: the district -- read taxpayers -- also pickups the administrators' medicare contribution. Wow.

The Anti-Positivist stands corrected. The nonsense just gets worse and worse.

Thanks ROC!

And the challenge is on! The challenge to dispell the need for a new levy.


Note: Remember, even the pickup mentioned above is for the kids -- its all for the kids. At least that is the party line. Soon I will return to how Wade-O's contract is all about the kids.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

The $12 Million Bond Slush Fund

The district claims it needs a $24.4 million bond levy, yet ... there is always a yet in Olentangy.

Last year, the district transferred $12 million from its building fund (you know, the fund that is supposed to be used for the projects listed on the ballots) into its permanent improvement fund. Why? So that the district can claim that it needs additional bond revenue while it squirrels away residual revenue from past issues.

This is criminal -- Wade-O and Feasel sure have some nerve.

Neither previous ballot issues nor campaign literature ever mentioned that dollars left over from building projects would end up in another fund. Yet that is what happened.

So now the district can use bond revenue to fund expenditures that should come out of the operating fund. In other words, the taxpayer is on the hook for 27 years for a paint job that will last three -- maybe three -- years.

Such nonsense.

Keep this in mind when you consider why an elementary school now costs $13.5 million dollars. The reason? The district inflates building costs -- backed by the yes-folks on the Development Committee -- so that it can spend the residuals on operating expenses.

If you vote NO, rest assured that the district HAS sufficient funds to build an elementary school. But only if district officials will dip into their $12 million bond slush fund.


Notes:

1. OFK folks, you endorse this nonsense with your name. You cannot separate the actions of the district from your campaign. The mud sticks much too well.
2. To see the nonsense in action, go to the state auditor's site and download Olentangy's FY10 audit.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

olentangy for kids

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