The article below is what is appearing in the Cincinnati Enquirer July 8, 2011. I gave a brief interview at the close of the meeting. There isn’t any reason in the world why the Lakota School Board should put a tax on the ballot. S.B.5 became law on July 1st which is why all the unions rushed to pass their contracts during the spring, to get those contracts grandfathered in. The school boards now have a tool to deal with the budget short-falls in the coming years, yet they don’t think in terms of cost reduction by way of wages and benefits renegotiated with Senate Bill 5, only cost expansion. The financial crises is self imposed. When a school board votes to spend 50K on a superintendent and pay her 165K yet overlook the guy who was doing a good job for only 105K, blowing a total of 100K on costs they didn’t need, it is clear that these administrators just don’t get it. No wonder all the school board knows how to do is ask for more money. It is very disappointing to see that the school board is putting up three options, which is essentially playing good cop and bad cop by making the smaller number look more digestible to voters. It’s very disingenuous and insulting.
The board is scheduled to choose a final school operating tax millage – 4.5 mills, 6.5 mills or 7.5 mills – to propose to voters in November. It will pick one of the tax options at its next meeting on Monday.
It took four tries in 2004 and 2005 before voters in Liberty and West Chester townships last approved a new operating tax. An operating tax helps pay for daily operations of the 18,300-student district, including employee salaries and benefits.
But voters in 2010 twice rejected operating taxes, and the defeat in May 2010 was by one of the largest margins in Lakota’s 54-year history. In November 2010, voters defeated a 7.9-mill operating levy.
Despite cutting $10.2 million in personnel and programs for the upcoming school year, Lakota faces a budget shortfall of $14.6 million by 2015 and requires more local tax revenue to remain solvent for the five-year projection required by the state for all public school districts, said Lakota officials.
Jenni Logan, treasurer of the Butler County district that is the second largest in Southwest Ohio, told the board that “we are still in a spending deficit” even with recent and extension budget cuts.
Board President Joan Powell said “deficit spending is an untenable position”.
“I’m worried that without a levy there will be bigger classrooms and we’ll see more teachers go. This is such a great school district, and I want to keep the quality as high as it has been,” said Clark.
But Rich Hoffman, spokesman for anti-school tax group “NoLakota,” said the board needs to look at further cuts rather than residents’ wallets. He said Ohio’s SB5 law, which curtails public school workers’ powers of collective bargaining, is in place and should be used to further reduce Lakota’s expenses.
“”SB 5 became law (and) school boards now have a tool to deal with the budget shortfalls in the coming years,” said Hoffman. “Yet they don’t think in terms of cost reduction by way of wages and benefits renegotiated with Senate Bill 5, only cost expansion.”
The board is scheduled to make the first of two state-mandated votes to put a tax issue on the fall ballot at its meeting 7 p.m. Monday at Lakota’s Central Office, 5572 Princeton Road, Liberty Township.
I won’t be at the meeting when they make their final selection of one of the three choices, because I know they have already chose the smaller number, hoping that it will not be such a hard number to digest. I have other plans for that particular evening which are far more important. So I’ll look forward to another good fight to defeat that next levy.