patel...Last week The Springboro School Board voted unanimously to approve a two year contract for our teachers. I appreciate this and thank them for doing so. However, as is often the case, there is far more to the story. In the same special meeting where the contract was approved – a meeting in which public commentary is not required nor was offered – the same board unanimously approved to place a renewal levy on the ballot this fall, but at a far lower dollar amount. These votes were followed by a lengthy campaign speech by our board President in which she took complete credit for everything, gave no gratitude to the teachers or community, credited her budgeting policies with creating savings that are actually attributed to pipeline money that has nothing to do with her, and shamelessly pandered for votes and support from her radical supporters.
Make no mistake. The two unanimous votes happened that way for a reason. This majority of this board had no intention of negotiating with the teachers and was ready to push them to strike. The only way this was averted was through a deal. Agree to cut the levy by using speculative pipeline money from the additional pipeline that is being built and the teachers get their contract. This enabled the board President to avert a strike while also lowering taxes, pleasing her political base, but at what cost to our kids? What is particularly frustrating about this, beyond the shameless political pandering, is that our community was repeatedly told that there was no money available to negotiate with our teachers. The school board President is up for election this November, and with all of the negative press she has brought upon our community, she is hoping that perhaps she can simply buy back your votes with a meager tax cut – at the long term expense of the financial stability of our schools. Our community was dragged to the brink of crisis for what appears to be no reason other than political bullying, because according to the board now there is so much money that we can reduce the levy. This is yet another example of this board talking transparency, but not walking the talk. This is yet another reason why there is a complete and total lack of trust in the actions of this board, and why this levy reduction should be viewed with extreme skepticism.
The board admits that the amount of new pipeline money the district will receive is speculative. The current pipeline money is also not guaranteed, which amplifies the risk of lowering the renewal levy amount. To be clear, this is a renewal levy, not new money. The district has needs for books, infrastructure, transportation, and enhanced curriculum, which can not be adequately addressed with a cut in funding. The reduction in funding makes it impossible for the district to address any unforeseen expenses or to properly address future contracts. Our classes are too big, our electives have been cut, our staff is too thin, our buildings need serviced, and our expenditure per pupil is already far lower than comparable school districts. We do not have a spending problem, we have a planning problem.
It sounds great to save a few bucks from a lower school levy… until you realize that those dollars are an investment in our future. We have historically received great returns on our investment in education in Springboro. We spend less per pupil than all but 13 districts in the state, and still we are consistently recognized as a top performing district in the State. Yet, at some point the rubber band gets pulled too far and snaps. Once it snaps, putting it back together again is far more difficult than simply properly managing the tension you place on it to begin with.
stick a fork in it