Will Our Community Take it, or Will They Cave?

Anyone with just a small amount of intelligence can see what’s going on here. The school systems have attached lucrative careers to our children. As I’ve looked at the situation with the same eyes that I’ve used to consult business, Lakota could solve its problems by just getting their expenditures down, which they say they’re doing, but the cuts they’re making are purely cosmetic. When the Lakota School Board announced within two weeks of the election, even when the deficit was much less than their original projections for 2010, that they are cutting busing, what we’re seeing is a game being played centered on collective bargaining. The problem is the wages are too high for Lakota. They’re too high for Mason, Little Miami, Fairfield, Springboro, virtually everywhere. When the cost per pupil is over $9,000 it’s too much for a school system to run off property tax dollars, and it’s too much to ask the State of Ohio to properly fund. Ohio needs to deal with the funding model, that’s for certain, and is a whole other fight. But as for now, the financial expectations of educators on what it takes to educate are simply too high.

I put together a collection of the various arguments from the final days of the campaign leading up to the day after the big vote so they could be revisited, and considered.

Real estate agents have attached themselves to the schools in order to sell homes. When 70 percent of the residents do not have children in the district, who are they selling homes too, just the 30%? Why would they instantly throw out the barrage of panic that home values will go down because some panic driven parent is looking for a public school to be their day care facility and might not want to move to Lakota, how does that impact our community? Those are irresponsible and foolish statements. Saying such a thing could create the perception of reality. What good sales person does that? Answer: lazy ones that just want to sit back and let the demographic of such panic driven parents fill their pockets. I couldn’t sell my house now if I wanted. There are a lot of homes in the Lakota district and a lot of competition in a market that isn’t exactly leaping with enthusiasm. The housing bubble burst. The declining home values are because the air is coming out of the balloon. Not because some kid can’t go to band class. Remember, we’re only talking about 30% of the Lakota district having kids in the system. By the grace of the community, the other 70% supply 160 million dollars to educating the needs of that 30%. To complain that Lakota is operating at a high level today, but not tomorrow because we don’t want to exceed that amount is childish, and pathetic.

The fact that these people say you can only cut so much out of a budget is ridiculous and mind numbing. We’re supposed to trust these people with a 160 million dollar budget? They’d cut busing which falls under the category of less than 25% of the cost and ignore the parts that are over 75%. That’s a major problem.

There are these parades of people that say performance is directly attached to money. Those are people that clearly don’t understand how things work. I don’t care if Lakota does more with less. If it was enough then they wouldn’t be asking for more money.

On the No Lakota side, we’re telling Lakota to work within the budget. We are properly funding the school system. But it looks like our community does not want to support collective bargaining. We can’t afford it. We don’t want to afford it. And we don’t want it attached to our children clinging like warts to their very bodies that we are afraid to remove because we don’t want to harm the child.

One rule I have when assessing employees is the 10-80-10 rule.

When I submit a salary increase to the owner of a company, typically those owners will approve my suggestions for the top 10% of my submissions. The 80% will get a typical cost of living increase, and the bottom 10% will get nothing. Those at the bottom are the people I want to see get angry and leave so I can hire someone else to take their place, so why would I give them an increase? Now the trick is that I have to figure out who my top 10% are, because in reality, I may have 15% that are really good. But I have to go through the work of figuring out who gets the good raise and who stays in the 80%. It doesn’t always feel fair, but that’s business. The reason we do this in the private sector is so our wages don’t get out of control and the company ends up in the situation Lakota and other school systems find themselves in, where they have to increase the cost of their service to cover their increased internal costs. Yet those internal costs are completely under their control. Those costs don’t have a life of their own. The fact that 160 million is not enough says that the district has mismanaged the money the community has sent to them.

I will say this much. If one parent has a car accident or one child gets hurt on the way to school because of the irresponsible behavior of school leadership to cut busing as a retaliation that the levy did not pass, when bringing wages under control has not even been explored, I will make sure the school system is held responsible for that action. Because of the cuts in busing there will be a lot more cars traveling the road ways in the morning, and there will be many more opportunities for accidents, especially if more young people are driving than they otherwise would be. The decision is purely extortion designed to protect the collective bargaining agreement established by the LEA.

The question is, will our community take it, or will they cave?

Rich Hoffman