Mark North is Non-Essential: What does he do to earn his money if he can’t even do public relations?

What I learned today was that Mark North, superintendent of the Lebanon School System is a non-essential employee.

I write a lot about education. Within the education reform movement, I receive a lot of information from very passionate people who are doing their best to address some of the issues involving education, and today I heard from a couple of them that find themselves defending the community of Lebanon from another tax increase.

Cyd Zimmerman was on the Darryl Parks show on Saturday April 9, 2011 because the scheduled debate between Mark North and Rick McPherson was forfeited by Mark North after proclaiming that “nobody listens to 700 WLW.” In short, he didn’t have the guts to go on the air and defend his actions in the district which prompted Cyd to step in and discuss North’s absence from the debate.

After that interview I received notes from Cyd and Sandy Trugrul about Lebanon and education issues in general, that they both spent a lot of time putting together. I thought those notes deserved to be listed in their entirety below.

A Note From Cyd Zimmerman: The woman on the Darryl Parks interview below.

It’s important to preface this conversation by laying the framework as to how I got here and why I’m so angry and frustrated.
So many that are staring down the barrel of another school levy have the same feeling coursing through their veins and are confused or unorganized in how to go about change. After all, Spring now means levy season. Not good.

Radio is a tough gig and it’s easy to lose your way. So much to say, and so little time, and that happened to me.
I had caught wind of yet another school levy mid January of this year. This was on the heels of a 5.41 mill emergency levy that was passed in November of 2010. It generates 4.2 million per year. I could not believe it. I had no clue who to talk to or where to begin so I attended my first ever board meeting that following Monday. It was just an announcement that they were deciding one of three amounts to choose from in my early understanding. Nevertheless, I was alone in a sea of empty chairs. There were a couple of others and I now know one of those people was Rick McPherson filming. I left as they were just finishing up and thought to myself…I’m screwed. Where are all the people? Where are the taxpayers? I was aware of the Lakota levy last November and the great deal of press it had gotten, having moved to Lebanon from West Chester. I Googled them and was pleased to see the site still up. I contacted them through the email and asked for help. The response was immediate. I had found Rich Hoffman’s site via the NolakotaLevy.com and the journey began. I found someone commenting on the site, speaking of the levy, and contacted her. I then met Rick McPherson who was looking for others and they gave him my email.

That’s all takes, but you can’t be thin-skinned or shy. That’s not a problem if you’re mad enough to demand some answers.
On to the bigger picture and where does the money go? I went to the Lebanon School site and it was pretty well layed out. Here’s the problem. 77.6% going just for wages and benefits. I would never begrudge the salary of a great teacher. They are pillars of the community. But where is the line in the sand?? Here is where SB5 would have made a huge difference. Don’t call it a pay freeze and continue step increases not to mention the other perks still in play. This has happened and you had no say. Contracts signed before the bill. We all know it. This is all about fiscal responsibility and accountability. I have to do it in my home and I expect the same from this entity.

Broken

Someone school me on why we pay for this supers $650.00 a month car allowance, family YMCA membership which on their site is $73.00 per month, cell phone (50 bucks a month), when he makes more than the Governor of Ohio?? More than the Lieutenant Governor, more than the Secretary of State, more than the Attorney General, on and on. It’s all on the web site.
http://www.lebanonschoolfacts.com

I’m sorry, but that is borderline criminal in my book. And it’s NOT ok. And shouldn’t be with you either.

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3.2% goes for supplies and materials. Hold on…3.4% is for other. What other? If it’s all about the children why is the “other” number higher? I still don’t have that answer…Do You?

I hear the phone calls have started for support of more sweaty cash. I’d like to get one of those calls. Hopefully it would not be a shallow conversation as was the one that ensued yesterday with Mr. North. He totally missed my side. Fine. He’s doing his job. Straddling the line between the unions and community must be brutal. Don’t say to me you have no intentions of having at the very least, an open Q&A or a town hall and then ask for millions. NO. Why? Because they can’t answer the tough questions on the spot. Oh sure, I can fill out the card and send it in. He said he has hundreds of cards. How much would the postage and cost be to them if I took them up on that offer? Small in the massive scope but this is the mindset I do not understand.

School bus drivers making over 16 bucks an hour? Really? Shrink wrapping the books at Little Miami because you have to be a certified librarian to hand them out? This is all just so bizarre.

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This is the tip of the iceberg but some of the key points from emails I get. I understand. They ask the simplest questions. I know exactly where they come from. They are busy. It gets so deep, it will blow your mind. But I too have a life and if I had time to say on the radio what was on my mind, this touches the surface.

To those out there in our shoes…We hear you. Darryl spoke of the numerous emails last week asking him to pick your district. We never would be here without the help of those from neighboring districts, particularly Dan Varney and Rich Hoffman. These guys get it.

So reach out to us. We’re busy but you can email the lebanonschoolfacts site and we’ll respond. Keep the hate mail at bay. It won’t be tolerated and end up in spam. Our vision is clear and we won’t be bogged down with the naysayers. You had your time.

Cyd

__________________________________________________________

Note from Sandy:

I’ve been working to educate people on school funding and the effects of the “mandatory” school curriculum for over thirty years. The one and only reason I have stuck to this is because I believe that the demise of our country is at stake.

The schools, their funding, their administrators, their unions are the lowest level of government that “we the people” have any hope of effecting change. If we can’t make an impact at that level the Federal level is certainly hopeless. I have not wanted to give up on my country.

In my opinion, last night’s fiasco regarding the federal budget was a diversionary tactic for covering up other more serious issues taking place in the world. I feel sure of that. The media loved covering the situation. Another 7.++ earthquake in Japan hardly got noticed. I guess the four nuclear towers are “all better.” That’s off topic now too.

The school unions and leaders use the same tactics when going after the property owners for more money. Anyone that is against raising taxes “hates the children” and doesn’t support education. In their propaganda their job is the most important job in the country. No salary level is too high. I have heard teachers say that they should be paid at the level of doctors. Their mantra is that the future of our country depends on the great education that the children receive from the union teachers. Of course “the more it costs the better the outcomes.” Nothing could be further from the truth in that statement unless you consider the outcomes that they want to occur. These may be much different from what the average person believes should be happening.

We all notice that the cuts that the boards propose are always ones affect the children the most harshly. You have mentioned all of them quite precisely.

Many people are afraid to speak out regarding their opposition to a levy. They are afraid of retaliation to their children or to themselves. One parent told me that her child came home crying because she didn’t love him. She said, “where did you ever hear such a thing.” His answer, “My teacher said that if you weren’t voting for the levy you don’t love me.” He had heard his parent discussing that they couldn’t afford to vote for the levy. In other words, the teachers are polling the children. The teachers are working in the classroom against the parents; this for their own monetary gain. How repugnant is this?

When I checked on “who funds levies” through the years, it is always the same people with the same vested interests. In Lebanon it is highly touted and supported by LCNB. (Chip Bonny, a board member, now works for LCNB. He formerly worked for Huntington Bank. The district obtained over $1M from Huntington Bank last year to buy back the buses that they formerly turned over to Laidlaw.) (I was told by my banker that transaction was a totally irregular transaction and would not be tolerated by his bank. He also said that Bonny, no doubt, received a nice bonus for that business. It would have been the case at his bank.)
The postcard sent out by the Pro-Levy group lists Eric Meilstrup as the treasurer. He is an officer with LCNB. Steve Wilson, CEO of LCNB has served on the district finance committee and heads up the full page of endorsements listed in the local paper.

LCNB also owned (until this month) Dakin Insurance. Lebanon buys it’s insurance from Dakin.

Other special interest groups funding levies are developers, construction companies, architectural firms, lawyers and other business leaders. Small amounts are given by the teachers, who can look forward to nice raises every time a levy passes.

Over 85% of the budgets pays for salaries and benefits. Other salaries can be hidden in many areas of the financial states and could make that percentage go up.

Any cuts suggested are called “draconian” and “extreme.”
No cuts are acceptable to the schools, county, city, township, state or federal levels of government.

The costs listed to give the per pupil amount are only from the General Fund that is for the operation of the schools. They never list the huge debt owed for the costs pertaining to the buildings And other loans they get (buses, copy equipment, phones, etc.) Those projections go on for years and years into the future. Our great-grandchildren will still be paying off those debts. ironically the buildings and equipment will be considered obsolete or even trashed. By the time the final payments are made.

When they speak to the people they try to use terminology that most people don’t understand. (I call it educationese.) This way they speak “down” to you, as though you are a child. They are the “professional” and you are insignificant in the scheme of things. They are taught how to “handle” the public a part of their college curriculum. It is part of the “Training for Change Agents” text. They study how to change your beliefs and those of your children. How to change your values from Christian to Secular Humanism.
The fact is that last year the board hired at least two new administrators.

Krista Foley (from Piqua – Student Services and Mason, Kindergarten Supervisor.) She is listed as administrator of various student programs
at a salary of $95,626.

Bill Lautar, former student services director in Kettering (where he retired)
Director of Human Resources at $98,343. (double-dipper)

July 15, 2010, Western Star: Lautar said he is in the process of filling
other certified and classified positions before the next school year, including
a secretary for the transportation office, coaching and extracurricular positions and teaching positions in special education, language arts and science.”

Schools are divided in this totally ridiculous configuration.

Louisa Wright – Early Childhood, Principal, secretary, 17 teachers
Bowman – First and Second Grades, two principals, two secretaries,
53 teachers.
Donovan – Third and Fourth Grades, two principals, two secretaries,
53 teachers.
Berry – Fifth and Sixth Grades, two principals, 2 secretaries

Jr. H. S. – (Former H.S.) Seventh and Eighth Grades, two principals,
two counselors,

High School – Three principals, 1466 total students 9-12

The total enrollment is around 5,000. I see plenty of room for cuts.

There are several people listed in the salaries listed on the blog as receiving “Retirement Incentive” payments.

Many “Teacher Assistants” listed for our overworked teachers. Many substitutes listed. I am told they have a higher absentee rate than the students.

We pay the entire retirement costs for the administrators (pickup on the pickup), we pay the entire health benefits for North and other admin. I admit that I haven’t read all of the contracts. Mark North is given unlimited time off to attend meetings and to consult. (I can’t imagine him consulting at anything.) There are numerous meeting held all over the country and world. I am going to request who traveled where in the past five years. It won’t help this time around, but good to have on hand for the future. I assure you that the Lakota people travel all the time. There is a NSBA conference in San Francisco this weekend. Most of them go with their “significant other.” After all, the room is paid for.

____________________________________________________________

All the issues discussed above are out of sheer frustration. It is obvious to anyone that cares to look, that there are many things wrong with how tax money is collected and spent. The people who grab this money from taxpayers are called by society as “trusted officials” or even “leaders.” But to those who look into things as they actually are, those trusted officials are just simple looters. These looters give the appearance that they are doing something beneficial for the community, but it’s all a smoke screen. What’s really going on is a lot of nothing and the tax payer is paying for things they don’t need to pay for.

Prior to Cyd’s interview on the radio Darryl spoke about the “non-essential” personnel in government. With that said, everyone in government that got a letter from the government on Friday April 8, 2011 stating that they are non-essential personnel shouldn’t be working in those positions, because they are wasting taxpayer money. It would also appear Mark North, superintendent of Lebanon is one of those “non essential” personnel. He didn’t have the guts to go on the radio today and debate the levy. He doesn’t know how to work with the community and answer questions. And he caves under the union pressure at the beginning of negotiations. So what good is he? He’s non-essential personnel and he could save the tax payers a lot of money if he wasn’t employed.

How many non-essential personnel is Lebanon employing if the superintendent isn’t doing anything? That’s the kind of question you have to ask before any levy should ever be put on a ballot. And the fact that the question wasn’t ask should insult every person in Lebanon that pays taxes.

Rich Hoffman

https://overmanwarrior.wordpress.com/2010/12/04/ten-rules-to-live-by/
http://twitter.com/#!/overmanwarrior
www.overmanwarrior.com

11 thoughts on “Mark North is Non-Essential: What does he do to earn his money if he can’t even do public relations?

  1. I’m currently reading Atlas Shrugged in preparation for the movie opening next Friday. It’s amazing how much of this kind of corruption was laid out in that novel by a Russian immigrant over 50 years ago.

    I guess that’s my take on the root of what is plaguing society: corruption. We all see it every day, from our local schools to our workplaces to state and federal governments. I have tried to live my life in an honorable way with my word being my bond. I see these kind of things go on every day and it makes me sick. I am always struck by two thoughts.

    The first one is “Am I the only moral man left in the world? How many others like me are out there? I surround myself with a small circle of friends that I trust, but everywhere I look people are lying, cheating, and stealing. I know this may sound arrogant, and I’m nowhere near perfect, but I feel like I’m living in a society where people are justifying any behavior in his or her mind.

    My second thought is: if I were put in a position of power, how would I handle it? “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. Would I slowly lose my principles and moral compass?

    If you’re a fan of the TV show “Angel”, you know that Joss Whedon explored this brilliantly in the last season of the show. Angel and his friends were given control of the L.A. office of Wolfram and Hart, an evil demonic law firm. They thought that they could use the vast resources of that evil empire to do good and right wrongs. They ended up slowly being corrupted.

    I wonder sometimes if the “machine” of this country has become so large and so corrupt that it is beyond saving. I wonder if there’s enough good people left to save our schools and our governments.

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    1. I think people should look at government service as a volunteer. Forget the career. Stick with the term limits. We get into trouble when these guys cling to these positions to prop up their lives. When you start to like it, you should leave and do something else, and turn things over to someone else.

      Atlas is an amazing story. There are a few of you out there here and there. Atlas deals with that question. The men of the mind often leave the business of government to the fools, because we’re busy living lives. Most of the smart people are minding their own business. But they’re out there. This site is my “bat signal” for those people, and believe me, you’re not alone.

      Can’t wait for the film!

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  2. The reason I list the school’s and their numbers is because I find the system of putting one or two grades in a school a total abuse of funding. There is no way that this can be the most effective and economical way to operate the system. Two principals for two grades each with his/her own secretary. First grade has a principal, second grade has a principal. Of course they don’t call it that, but that is what it is. They call it principal and assisstant principal. That is because there was an uproar over the two principal concept. Entire schools used to have one principal. My kids went to a large elementary K-6 that had one principal and one secretary. The teachers didn’t have paid aides either.

    I too, am looking for the honest people left in this world. Too many have been conditioned to believe right is wrong and wrong is right.

    My son blames it on “consumerism,” but that is not all of the story. Yes people buy too much, covet too much and blame the corporations or someone else. The truth is that we have to blame ourselves for our own failings. No one forces anyone to be a consumer of more trinkets than he can afford or needs.

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    1. I thought of one other thing after my last post. Sandy mentioned being talked down to and educators using “educationese. I’m not sure if she meant this happens at board meetings or just during one-on-one conversations, but it reminded me of parent-teacher conferences with my three young children’s teachers. We attend every meeting and every time the teachers go into an extremely complicated explanation using important sounding terms to describe the methods they’re using to teach my kids to read and write. It seems to me that we invented the internal combustion engine, computers, and put men on the moon without all these complex new age teaching methods. My first thought was that they’re trying to justify their high salary and benefits packages for teaching my 6 year old to read. My second thought was that when you look at the average level of intelligence across this country and the graduation rates, it seems these new important sounding methods aren’t working too well.

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    2. Consolidating grade levels is cost effective because it maximizes staffing and materials.

      Example:
      Building 1 = 35 students in first grade, 2 teachers
      Building 2 = 35 students in first grade, 2 teachers

      1 Building = 70 students in first grade, 3 teachers

      Also, administrator numbers are determined by the state; there is a minimum number of them required based on student population in a building.

      Like

  3. Yes, Phil, exactly right. They justify their importance by creating a special terminology for very simple tasks and methods. I have often thought that they use the verbage they create to compare themselves to the terms that doctors, lawyers, engineers, architects etc. use in their professions.

    It is not longer adequate to say reading, writing and arithmatic. By they way, many schools no longer bother to teach handwriting. Soon our people won’t be able to sign their names on a document.

    The dumbing down goes on. I suggest reading the short book: “Dumbing Us Down” by John Taylor Gatto.
    He was an amazing teacher who refused to play by the union’s book. All of his books are eye-opening accounts of why the government schools do not work.

    Like

    1. I’ve always believed that many things, such as the law, are needlessly complicated and filled with specialized jargon for the express purpose of making it impossible for the “common man” to understand and thus justify the high fees of those in the profession. It seems to me that the Ten Commandments were pretty self explanatory. Then the “lawyer” was created and now our own Congressmen and women who are lawyers themselves can’t understand the bills they are passing. I do realize that is partly because the incredibly complex language of the bills leaves plenty of wiggle room for unelected bureaucrats to “interpret” later as they see fit.

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      1. You are right on target. Wiggle room to protect themselves and to be able to charge huge fees for the “interpretation” of the law.

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  4. Tonight I spoke at the Lebanon School Board Meeting as follows:
    Tomorrow is a date in history that should be significant to all who love this country and wish it to remain free. It’s the day in 1775 when Patriots in Lexington and Concord fired the opening volley for liberty and for freedom from taxation without representation. That shot heard “round the world” officially began the American Revolution during the Battle of Lexington Green.
    I mention this event because you people sitting here before us seem to think that the most patriotic thing the people can do is “pay more taxes.” Taxes that will enrich you and your families.
    All of you board members were elected to represent the community. You were not elected to represent the unions. By your last months action, you clearly notified the taxpayers where you stand. you chose to join your colleagues and guarantee their step raises and benefits. Every one of you has a clear conflict of interest. Not one of you should be voting on issues that guarantee your famil and friends benefits of any description.
    The current manner in which you choose to operate this district is unsustainable. Eventually you will be exploiting the property owners for every dime they earn.
    The Five Year Forecast that you have on line, projects a deficit in 20015 of $33,106,583. Almost all of that deficit is created by annual raises and benefits for the staff. This document tells all of us that you have absolutely no intention of reining in salaries and benefits, you have no intention, well into the future, of becoming the least bit creative in reducing costs in the operation of our schools.
    Our state is broke, our country is broke, from the looks of things, our city is broke. The economy has bottomed out and will get worse. yet, you five, sit here and do nothing to make a change in your spending habits.
    A while back I asked the treasurer for a copy of the “Forensic Audit.” You refused to give it to me over and over. Obviously, it is because you have something to hide. This board represents the people. Your records are our records. When you pay for anything, that record belongs to us. Transparency is definitelly not your intention with OUR records.
    You have no credability. Your are obviously not “for the children.”

    Like

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