Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Olentangy Levy

A resident asked for my thoughts on the upcoming levy. Here they are:

The key is the district’s Five-Year Financial Forecast (available on the district website). The costs projected for the next four years assume average annual salary increases of close to 6%. Keep in mind that the salary scale is comprised of three components; negotiated increase, step increase, and education increase. The district only likes to report its negotiated increase since that is always a lower number than all three together. Though all three numbers are reported in the forecast for you to read.

In addition, the forecast assumes that the staff contribution percentage for their healthcare will not increase.

So the proposed cuts hit everything except staff salary and benefits, which are projected to increase at a rate that is double what the private sector can expect.

The ratio of students to teacher continues to decline (you can see references to that in the current forecast, but you have to get prior year forecasts to see what that ratio used to be).This decline results in a great increase in costs. A slight increase in this ratio ( say .5 students per teacher) would save a large amount of money, without any impact to students.

The state is in the process of correcting an $8 billion budget hole. There will be big changes to the state school funding system that will not be known until after the levy (the state budget will likely not be signed until close to the June 30 deadline).

A levy in November has the same revenue impact as a levy in May, since taxes are collected in arrears (all new taxes passed in 2011 are collected in 2012). The district could implement additional cost savings for next year (by bringing salaries and benefits in line with the private sector, and slightly increasing the student/teacher ratio to where it was just a few years ago), wait until the state budget is passed, and consider a November levy (I don’t think that is needed either).

The district is not being honest when it states that it must enact cuts. That is simply not true. Given its current forecast, all the district needs to state is that it plans to pass a levy on or before the spring election of 2012. In the spring of 2012, the district would need to have a cut plan (assuming it did not implement any cost savings – salaries, benefits, etc.) in place since contracts are dependent on sufficient resources for school year 2013 (starting July 1, 2012).

But a cut plan, and a threat to enact those cuts, are not required. When I served, we never made such threats. The cuts were proposed only when needed.



Scott said...

Well Jim, the threats are now here as seen in This Week Olentangy. All sports and most busing will be cut.

Everyone knew this would happen the last time that the contract was negotitiated with the teacher's union. But the vicious cycle continues. Raises taxes to cover the contract, get a bigger contract since the taxes were passed, etc. etc.

I'm all for decent, fair raises and good healthcare for everyone in this country. But it's just not fair to tax me more to fund 6% raises while my raises the last 3 years have averaged 1%. I simply have no more money to give.

How can we organize to get out the truth?

ROC said...

Thanks Jim for your thoughts. Becky Jenkins cannot comment on the wage freeze issue or increasing out of pocket for benefits pertaining to the staff related to labor law, etc... When I asked her about the big difference between the 2008 and 2011 proposed cuts, the answer was a little foggy. At least OLSD is not threatening to close the schools to comm. groups like last time -- maybe they finally figured this was against ORC 3313.76-77. Responsible Olentangy Citizens ( will be getting something together to get the truth out.

Anonymous said...

I saw this on one of Gary North's forums. ( Gary used to be one of Ron Paul's speechwriters when he first went to congress.
Check out the link to Lew Rockwell's site mentioned below...

Paul Dorr kills school bonds and local tax increases. He lives in Osceola County Iowa. The teachers unions hate him. He knows how to crack open a local government budget so you can fight back. He'll teach you how.