Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Fiscally conservative Ohio school board turns a deficit into a surplus while cutting taxes and giving raises

In light of the fact that Swanton has a school levy on the ballot today (after it was defeated in May), and several others, including Toledo Public Schools, will have levies on the ballot in November, I thought this was an important article to share.

It's from EAGNews.org, the website for the Education Action Group Foundation in Muskegon, MI. It's about the success of Springboro Schools here in Ohio.

SPRINGBORO, Ohio – It’s tempting to describe the financial turnaround that’s taking place in the Springboro school district as something of a miracle.

How else to describe the district’s dramatic reversal in fortune?

In the span of just four years, Springboro schools have gone from projecting a massive deficit of $28.7 million to planning for a surplus of nearly $7.2 million by 2017.

That’s a swing of nearly $36 million to the district’s benefit.

That’s unheard of during these tough economic times in which many U.S. school districts are cutting student programs, laying off teachers and raising taxes.

Here’s something else that’s unheard of: Instead of just stockpiling the extra money in the district’s bank account, Springboro school board members are preparing to give a portion of it back to taxpayers.

Last month, Springboro board members voted to place a five-year levy renewal on the November ballot that will actually cut taxes by 15 percent, which equals about $1.3 million a year. The levy would shrink the projected surplus by several million dollars, but the once-needy district would still be left with a tidy sum in reserve.

In a press release, Springboro school board President Kelly Kohls told taxpayers that if they pass the levy, the district “will be able to move forward without any type of levy for some time to come.”

It’ll be up to voters whether or not to accept the deal, though it’s difficult to imagine them turning it down.

It’s not just taxpayers who are reaping the benefits from Springboro schools’ improved financial condition. The district just agreed to a new contract with the local teachers union that gives many educators a 12 percent pay raise – through step increases and a base pay increase – over the next two years.

And even though the new contract also increases teachers’ health insurance contributions – from 15 to 20 percent – most teachers will still see their take home pay increase by about 10 percent over the next two school years, according to Kohls.

This district focused on a 'children-first' approach, adopted zero-based budgeting (where they don't start with last year's spending and add to it), and their test scores improved.

Continue reading...

But that's not enough. Unions didn't want the reduced levy on the ballot. Giving back money just isn't done and if the district isn't 'flush with cash' it doesn't need, how can the unions demand - and get - even more?

Taxpayers will probably like this a lot, though, but we'll have to wait until November to find out for sure.

There's the big question: Can you imagine any school district in Lucas County doing the same thing?

Your answer is 'probably not' - which is a sad commentary on our local educational system and the people we elected to do what is best 'for the children.'

1 comment:

Mad Jack said...

Giving money back to the taxpayers? Incredible.

That's where I'd want my children to go to school. Springboro.

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