Prepared Notes for Board Meeting

July 13, 2009

Marc A. Schare

 614 791-0067

marc9@aol.com

 

First, a brief legislative update. The conference committee report for the state budget is complete and the chambers are voting on it today. I attended the morning session of the State Board of Education retreat to listen to the state Superintendent describe the contents of the report. She arrived with a bunch of hand written notes. I downloaded the legislation and will editorialize that the “official” version had pages crossed out, other lines inserted and so forth. It is a safe bet that most members of the Ohio House did not read it prior to voting on it, but it passed 54-44 anyway. According to Superintendent Delisle, the bill contains the Governor’s Evidence Based Model, maintains our transitional aid at 99% in FY2010 and 98% in FY2011 (slightly better than what is in the current forecast), unfortunately maintains the status quo for charter school deductions and requires all day Kindergarten effective in the fall of 2010. The bill also contains a number of mandates but the Superintendent said that school districts rated “excellent” will be exempt. Time will tell. Still to be determined is whether the permanent reimbursement of tangible personal property taxes is included, the fate of special education scholarships and other items of significant import to Worthington. The charge-off is reduced to 22 mills in 2010 and 21 mills in 2011. This doesn’t help us but it’s a step in the right direction. Significantly, many of the teacher reform proposals are in the conference report including teacher tenure after 7 years. The ability to RIF for financial reasons is maintained. Again, this comes from the State Superintendent who was reading it off little scribbles, so take it for what it’s worth.

 

Second, following our retreat on Friday, I spent some time with our forecast and I had an idea that I wanted to run past the board. Normally, I wouldn’t do this at a meeting where our Superintendent and Treasurer are absent, but this is the last time we’ll be together prior to our public forum on the 27th and if there is interest, the concepts expressed herein should be incorporated into that event.

 

A few weeks ago, we unanimously told our treasurer that the 2009 levy should last three years. I want to revisit that decision and I want to briefly explain why.

 

A back of the napkin calculation shows that we could run a two year levy in 2009 at 3.5 mills. While this plan requires annual expenditure reductions of 2 million dollars from the Phase One and Phase Two lists, this will keep the district in the black through FY2012. We could run another three year levy in 2011 which would, barely, keep the district in the black through 2015. In other words, rather than run a 3 year levy in 2009 and a 2 year levy in 2012, let’s reverse them and run 2 years in 2009 and 3 years in 2012. Doing so has the following advantages.

 

First, it should be a lot easier to pass 3.5 mills than 7.4 mills and we save the average homeowner in Worthington approximately $320/year. In this economy, that is significant and could mean the difference between winning and losing. Second, we will give the national and state economy time to recover. Third, the STRS changes should be in effect and we should have an idea if Worthington will experience the retirement tsunami we are expecting. This would help us rightsize future levy requests. Fourth, the 2010 election cycle should bring some clarity as to the nature of school funding in the state for the next few years and finally, it is simply the right thing to do. For Worthington families that have been hit hard by this downturn, buying a few years for things to get better makes all kinds of sense.