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%.


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 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.

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:


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.



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: and Again, regardless of their value, these are community-run sites.

Now, venture over to 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?