Vote for O’Connor and Hahn to Lakota School Board: It isn’t about being nice, its about being effective

The value to a person like me of the Lakota school system is in how little they take from the community to offer their free baby-sitting service. I think we are in a time where the college myth is no longer relevant, that we understand the cost of a liberalized education is very detrimental to young minds. But a lot of parents could care less, they just need somewhere to park their kids for the day while they do whatever they do. And if there are sports programs, they can play the lottery with their children by hoping that they may get a scholarship to a college and save them some money. That’s my opinion of the public education system which might be bleak to many, but its my observation that, that is the essence of it, so in my view, it needs to cost the least possible. The real figures that make up a good community are the businesses that create the desire to move into an area. The school that happens to be there benefits from the quality of people who are drawn to the businesses of a region. It’s a really broken system that measures all the wrong values, so while we all figure out the future of public education, we need a bridge from here to there that has smart people managing the resources so we don’t end up with the kind of mess that we have had at Lakota during the last decade.

At the recent VOA Miami University Meet the Candidate night which took place on October 22nd, 2019 I attended to provide coverage for those who couldn’t be there, and video of the event is provided here. I see this work as a kind of public service. Feel free to watch the videos and make your decisions on the candidates. For me the unquestionable choice for school board in this upcoming election is James Hahn and Lynda O’Connor. Lynda has been around for a while and knows how to manage the board and keep Lakota in a win column so that they don’t scare off potential investors into real estate as a deal breaker. I don’t think Lakota is a lure, not in the way public school used to be. Other factors certainly are a greater part of the decision-making process. And that’s where James Hahn comes into play. He’s a business guy and would provide Lynda and the current board member Todd Parnell with that critical third vote to keep the district running well with the massive amount of money that we do give them.

Much of the talk from that debate night was what to do with the massive $100 million surplus that Lakota is operating under. I filmed many of the questions and answers but was out of the room away from the camera when Ray Murray proclaimed that it would take Lakota 37 years to spend all that money, which was astonishing. I’m sure somebody in the room filmed that comment. But the gist of the night was that Ray and Julie Shaffer were nice people who just didn’t have a clue how to operate in this tightly controlled Lakota district where business owners have actually stood up for themselves against the extortion tactics that public schools often use to get more money in their pockets so they can throw it at the teacher’s union. Looming in the room around that event were many of them from Liberty Township and West Chester. Sure, everyone shakes hands at the end of those things and gets along, professionally. But the resentment of the game is a clear dividing line and since much has been said over the last decade about the negative ways Lakota has interacted with that part of the community, it is clear that the skills needed are well beyond Ray and Julie.

What’s different now as opposed to even a few years ago is that “just pay more money for the kids” isn’t enough any more for public schools, and at Lakota that is especially true. There are lots of psychological problems that make people do what they do, and as I often refer to strong supporters of government schools as rapid animals with their minds soaked into delusion as to what the school can actually do for their children, what everything eventually comes down to is money. Lakota has plenty of money that they are taking in. The question is, what happens to it? Without a pro-business school board who knows how to read a balance sheet, that $100 million surplus will be wasted on everything and the board will come back to the community asking for more money in a few short years.

Nobody wanted to talk about a school levy, obviously I was there for everyone to see, and many members of the old No Lakota Levy campaign were in the audience also very visible. Without question that changed the course of the dialogue a lot from pro levy discussions which of course the teachers and administrators always want to hear and centered on more fiscal responsibility which seemed like an oblivious concept to Ray. I am still astonished about some of the things he said during the debate. He may be a nice guy that is very likable but being likable isn’t a qualification unless the job is a Wal-Mart greeter. When we are talking about budgets ranging in the millions and millions of dollars, many times you want someone managing it who doesn’t give a rat’s ass about being liked. Quite the opposite.

Lynda O’Connor has come a long way in her years on the school board. I’ve always liked her but, in the beginning, I thought of her as another idealist who was pro education and would work the Republican ranks because of the regional consequences. But she has certainly proven to me that she is sincerely conservative. She also has a lot of hope in what can be done with public education and so long as we have that as the means of educating kids, she is the right kind of person for a job like the school board. James Hahn is new to all this, and that is great too. So long as he can learn from Lynda, his business experience will be a big help in keeping the business community close and part of solutions. The other two, experienced board members and part of what was the problem originally would be a disastrous pick.

Let’s face it, without opposition Lakota would not have that $100 million surplus. It wasn’t some miracle trick in accounting. Lakota has a good treasurer, much better than who was there before her. And I think the new superintendent is a good one. I’m sure he’d like more freedom to promote the brand of Lakota as more the center of the community than what it is. I don’t think its bad at all to be part of that anger. I see it as healthy. Nobody wants to read one more boring newspaper article about these topics from boring, fossilized reporters. They enjoy my work for sure, and I think giving it to them with an animated zeal is good for the decision-making process. Public school is a boring topic for those who have their kids all grown up and have moved away. They certainly don’t want their taxes to go up. They just want to enjoy their community, their jobs and a nice place to shop and go out to dinner on a Friday night. They don’t want to hear that Lakota has blown their $100 million surplus and is asking for more money because the school board mismanaged it. To avoid that fate, vote for O’Connor and Hahn. And make sure Lakota knows you are watching them. Because the moment you don’t, that money and much more will be spent, and we’ll have another levy. You can bet on that.

Rich Hoffman

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