Prepared Text for Board Meeting –
Marc A. Schare
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I want to take this opportunity to mention a few things.
First, I want to welcome
Candy Brooks back to these proceedings. While Mark Major did a great job at
filling in, I know I speak for everyone in the room when I say that Candy
Brooks is a community icon whose contribution in
Second, I want to clear up a misconception. The Worthington Board of Education is not anti-love. While I appreciate the willingness of the staff and our guests to come out on a snowy Valentines Day evening, the truth is that we moved our meeting to Wednesday because we “love” our President, Dr. Bob Horton, and not that we hate St. Valentine.
My first update today has to do with our constitutional amendment to “fix” school funding. As your legislative liaison, I’ve followed the debate and have become somewhat familiar with the details of the amendment. As you’ve seen in the headlines, the amendment mandates the creation of a education advisory committee. This committee will determine how much education costs, and the general assembly will be required to fund that amount, minus a predetermined “local share” that starts out at 34 mills and gradually descends to 20 mills by fiscal year 2013.
As always, the devil is in the details. For example, the education advisory committee consists of 6 school district employees, 6 members of organized labor/business and, seemingly as an afterthought, 6 members of the taxpaying public. The 18 unelected people, with just a minor amount of oversight, will become the most powerful people in state government, able to control over 40% of the states resources and able to force massive tax increases or budget cuts to satisfy their demands. In just the first 2 years, before the committee ever meets, the amendment calls for annual, immediate 5% increases on top of a cost of living adjustment in each year at a cost of, accordingly to the non-partisan legislative budget commission, 1.8 billion dollars over the 2 year cycle, and that’s just the warm up.
In the weeks to come, I plan to
discuss with this board and with the
My second update has to do with
the statewide initiative for pooling of health care. Since health care costs,
including Dental, for employees in
Worthington will grow from 10.8 million dollars (or 10% of our general
operating fund) to 15.2 million dollars (or 12.5% of our budget), a 40%
increase in just 3 short years, I’ve been following this process with some
interest. There was cause for optimism when the state’s consultant, Mercer,
reported a possible statewide savings of around $200 million dollars that could
be achieved from statewide pooling of health care, or a slightly smaller amount
that could be saved, statewide, from regional pooling of health care. Sadly, it
is not to be. The health care board’s report to the governor calls for neither
mandatory statewide or mandatory regional pooling. Rather, the report demands
that school district plans adapt “best practices” with possible savings in the
60-120 million dollar range. For
Next, I wanted to take some time to discuss lessons learned from the board selection process. The responses to our supplemental questionnaire were very revealing, and the subsequent responses to some of the questions at the public forum were also quite enlightening. In both cases, they reflect perceptions of our district by very talented and knowledgeable cross section of the district.
The first item was an almost
universal desire to reintroduce foreign languages into the elementary grades.
Approximately half of the responses from the questionnaires indicated that this was an appropriate use of
money for ‘new stuff’ if such funds would ever materialize. In talking to
Jennifer Wene, Mark Glesbrenner
and others, I’m told that money is not the primary showstopper in getting this
done, it is time in the schedule. As Mark embarks on a program to rethink elementary
school for the 21st century, Foreign Languages should be
prioritized, especially in the light of new opportunities for globalization at
the middle schools. The second item is an absolute misunderstanding of state
funding as it pertains to