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Woodridge Superintendent: Expect $1.8m in Cuts if Levy Isn't Passed in 2012

If approved by voters, the levy would generate $3 million per year and cost taxpayers an additional $209 annually for every $100,000 in valuation.

At Tuesday’s special meeting, the started answering the school system’s most pressing question—what if?

If – the district’s five-year, 6.83-mill levy – doesn’t pass on Aug. 7, voters will cast ballots on an identical levy this November.

In the event the November issue fails, the board will need to approve seven-figure cuts ($1.2 million in personnel, $600,000 in employee benefits) to keep the budget balanced and in the black through 2015, according to Woodridge treasurer Deanna Levenger.

The reductions would go into effect July 1, 2013, she said.  

As discussions got underway at the meeting, Davis said eliminating 20 full-time teachers would avert $1.2 million in costs, but he noted the layoffs could also be split between the day-to-day operations staff and educators.  

Among the teachers, those laid off would most likely be teachers in elective programs versus those who teach common core standards like math, science and social studies.

One way or another, the cuts are coming if a levy isn’t passed in 2012, he said.

“The members of the community have consistently said ‘don’t threaten us.’ Well, I don’t believe we’re threatening anybody by telling them what they’re facing…(in the 2013-14 school year),” said Davis.

Board president Tammy Heffernan voiced her central concern, saying “my fear is when we talk about the levy having to be passed in 2012 the people will not vote in August because they know they have November coming up…it’s imperative that it passes in August.”

If approved, Issue 5 would generate $3 million per year, raise a total of $15 million in revenue and cost property taxpayers $209 per year for every $100,000 in valuation.

The district hasn’t been able to pass a levy since 2004. To remain in the black, school officials have cut

What do you think? In light of potential cuts, are you more apt to vote for the upcoming levy?

Scott Karlo July 12, 2012 at 06:07 PM
A couple of thoughts: 1. What evidence is there that suggests combining the schools will have any real significant impact to the bottom line? Given the number of students per class room, it won't allow for a cut in many teachers. Given the limited amount of administration, at least at Woodridge, there would not likely be much savings there. Having multiple campuses would still require nearly the same level of support services (custodial, cafeteria, etc.), so we would not realize much savings there as well. Physically combining the schools would require a significant investment to physical infrastructure, at a cost to the tax payers, and given the quantity of students would still require near equal levels of teachers. more to follow...
Scott Karlo July 12, 2012 at 06:08 PM
Continued from previous comment.. 2. No one wants to see property taxes go up, I'm a taxpayer as well. But as some have already outlined here, the problem is in the reduced funding from the State. State level politicians will campaign on not raising taxes, but they'll institute new policies that cause a 35% reduction in public education funding while shifting those dollars over to the State's general fund. Given the laws on how schools obtain funding, the politicians leave the tax increases to school boards and local governing bodies. There certainly seems to be agreement as to where the changes need to occur, however, NOT voting to fund the current educational system is really just a penalty to the students relying on it in order to be competitive in their future. Long before I had any children in the district, I supported the necessary levies to fund education. Now that I have children in the district I am hoping the community, especially those with students who have progressed through the system, will do the same. Once this levy for Woodridge gets passed, let's begin to channel some efforts into modifying how our public education system is funded here in the State of Ohio.
Jenn Bryson July 13, 2012 at 12:01 AM
I applaud the board for making the tough cuts. And I applaud the administration for taking voluntary pay freezes AND for contributing more to health care costs. I'm hoping that Aug. 7th I can applaud the voters for passing Issue 5!
Adam C. Miller July 13, 2012 at 12:44 AM
We should applaud them!
Mike Penta July 13, 2012 at 12:58 AM
I applaud you as well. Not many people in the public eye are willing to put themselves out there, address issues or concerns, have a dialogue, and stand up for what they believe in and do it in a constructive manner.
Mike Penta July 13, 2012 at 01:15 AM
There is research out there that says combining districts has little to no benefits, particularly when the State comes in and does it. That's why my previous suggestion was to discuss the possibility and pros and cons now to see if it is a direction the two districts would want to go if/when/before the State tries to impose it. I made the suggestion only because Cuyahoga Falls seems to be headed in the direction of a major reconfiguration and should Woodridge be receptive to the idea it changes many things. I respect Mr. Davis' feelings and the Woodridge community's feelings on the issue. Dealing with a 10-member school board (albeit temporarily) would be enough to scare me away from doing it. Kidding aside, I think the issue should be discussed rationally by both parties to determine if it is in the best interest of both communities. There are many people campaigning right now who's top priorities include restoring education funding at the State level. Keep that in mind this coming November.
Earl Elevant July 13, 2012 at 01:34 AM
I doubt the Falls would want to take on Woodridge.
Earl Elevant July 13, 2012 at 01:38 AM
The schools really need to start looking to other ways to fund themselves beyond property taxes. I've gotten one raise in the past five years and every cent of that raise has gone into my property taxes. This is saying nothing about every other essential that has also increased in price, such as gasoline, natural gas, groceries, etc. It's time to look elsewhere. Homeowners can't afford anything more. Sorry, but no.
Adam C. Miller July 13, 2012 at 03:50 AM
How many Woodridge employees make over $70,000 (not including benefits)? Just curious...
Dave L July 13, 2012 at 12:04 PM
How much of the negotiated raises are teachers willing to give back to save their own? What's keeping them from reopening negotiations and putting their money where their mouths are?
W. Davis July 13, 2012 at 02:36 PM
Dave - We sought concessions from both of the unions in the district. One was not interested at all. The other (teachers) made a proposal to the Board - which did not address the major cost issues - so the Board turned their offer down and provided a counter offer that would have addressed the issues we face. They refused the counter offer. We go back into full negotiations with both unions this coming spring and will seek to address these and other issues as we work to finalize a successor contract.
W. Davis July 13, 2012 at 02:50 PM
58 employees. All have advanced degrees and extensive seniority or serve in administrative roles.
Adam C. Miller July 13, 2012 at 09:31 PM
Thanks for the info Mr. Davis.
Scott Karlo July 13, 2012 at 10:22 PM
Mr. Elevant, your post is probably one of the most enlightening so far for one critical reason. These sames costs you outline that continue to increase and cause you grief: "This is saying nothing about every other essential that has also increased in price, such as gasoline, natural gas, groceries, etc." These are the same rising costs that impact the schools. There is only so much that can be cut, especially when you recognize the limits placed on the process by State laws. I can tell you this School Board is trying to make change without negatively impacting the quality of education.
Scott Karlo July 13, 2012 at 10:25 PM
I'd like to thank everyone for the civility of their posts. These are the types of conversations that need to take place in order to solve problems. Thank you! I think if anyone here were to join our levy committee or school board meetings, you would find great desire in finding creative solutions to fund the schools. We see the trouble with the levy process and it really can't continue long term. I believe your constructive input would be welcomed. The problem we face at the immediate moment is the lack of funding that will yield to significant cuts which will impact the quality of education. These cuts will negatively impact the quality of our society in the future. Thus, we cannot afford to wait for policy change and ignore the need for a levy today. Yet passing this levy does not mean we won't fight for State level changes tomorrow. We need both to take place. Efforts are already under way to find creative solutions to fund various programs at the schools, those efforts will continue. Please join us to get involved in an effort to make change as we can't do it alone.
Regina Palmer July 13, 2012 at 11:52 PM
Just curious......If you HAD received more than one raise in the past five years, would that make you more supportive of the school levy?
Regina Palmer July 14, 2012 at 12:39 AM
Just for the record- Revere has 141 employees that make more than $70,000 and Hudson has 257. Those two schools are listed on the Ohio Dept. of Education website as "High Performing Districts". Good quality schools require good quality teachers, and what else is going to keep good teachers if the district doesn't pay well? You get what you pay for....
Earl Elevant July 14, 2012 at 03:47 AM
I don't have an issue giving more to the schools if I'm making more, so I'd have to say, yes, I would be more supportive of the school levy. But when you start taking what I don't have to give, you're going to run into a problem. At this point, requiring more from people is like one homeless guy with a cardboard sign trying to get another homeless guy with a cardboard sign to put a dollar in his cup.
Earl Elevant July 14, 2012 at 03:55 AM
And as for your post, Scott, somewhat of the same answer as my other post in this thread: If my quality of life is going to decline or the quality of education is going to decline because there's some debate over where the money should go that *I* earned, I would think that the guy who made it should be able to take some precedence over the schools with their hands out...yet again. Why not look to the parents to contribute? Their kids are the ones actually using the services. After all, would I be able to go back and take a class in an area where I'm deficient? Maybe one that wasn't offered when I was in high school (way back in Civil War times)? No, I doubt they'd let me do that. But they'll gladly take my money. It only works when people can afford to give. Most people can't afford to give at this point.
Earl Elevant July 14, 2012 at 03:58 AM
58 out of how many employees in similar jobs? (Comparing apples to apples--not an administrator to the lunch lady.)
W. Davis July 14, 2012 at 01:19 PM
Of the 58 employees I mentioned - 11 are administrators. The remaining 47 are teachers. We have 140 teachers.
Earl Elevant July 14, 2012 at 04:23 PM
Wow. That's a lot of people making a ton of money for working roughly half a year. (Teachers, not administrators, as I assume admins work year-round.)
Regina Palmer July 14, 2012 at 04:48 PM
" Wow. That's a lot of people making a ton of money for working roughly half a year." What? So since a firefighter only works "2 days a week" (24 hours on then 48 hours off) should they be paid less too? Every occupation has different requirements whether it is the schedule, the pay, the travel time, etc. You are comparing apples to oranges.
Earl Elevant July 15, 2012 at 03:50 AM
Sorry Regina, but an hour is an hour--that's apples to apples. Teachers work about half a year. That's just a fact.
W. Davis July 15, 2012 at 03:44 PM
As in any profession, there are, no doubt, teachers who only work the requried number of days / hours during the school year. But that is NOT the norm. Teachers I know work well beyond and before the school day. They come early. They stay late. They are in their classrooms over the summer. They take workshops, seminars, attend graduate courses, get together with colleagues to plan, and work on their craft. In the public sector, as I am told, if a boss wants his/her workers to learn a new skill or get an advanced degree, in many cases the company sends them for training on company time and probably pays for it too. In schools, while we do have general professional development training in house, MOST of the training teachers receive is done individually - by the teacher - as they take courses and sharpen their skill. To say that teachers only work half a year demeans the very important work they MUST do to remain licensed in our state on their own time. It is not unusual to see Woodridge teachers in their classrooms at 6:00 a.m. preparing for the day. It is not unusual to see Woodridge teachers in their classrooms at 6:00 p.m. wrapping things up and getting a start on tomorrow. These people take their jobs seriously - as I would hope they would. Shaping the future - one student at a time. Nothing could be more important.
Donna Kaiser July 15, 2012 at 07:00 PM
Mr. Elevant, what is it you think that parents aren't paying? In addition to our property taxes, we pay school fees, testing fees, supply fees, art fees, pay to participate in band (no sports in our house) and field trips. We participate in fundraisers, bake sales, volunteer opportunities within the buildings, sports concessions stands (again, for other people's kids who play). We organize parent groups that respond to each school building's needs. We donate water and snacks and food for teacher dinners and clothes and books. Are suggesting that we also personally fund all future cost increases, just divide it up by family and send us bills to save you the expense? Parents, lots of us, pay far more than our property taxes. I appreciate your point of view, as we have done the unemployment dance over the course of the last few years. We make far less now than we did when we married 17 years ago. That said, we cannot punish current students and inhibit their futures during their one shot at K-12 education.
Earl Elevant July 16, 2012 at 03:14 AM
With all due respect, each and every time a levy comes up, I've heard about these mythical teachers who spend 12+ hours at school. I don't think they really exist (outside of coaches...possibly). It will be easy to find if they exist between when school starts in the fall and when it becomes time to vote on the levy. It will take nothing more than driving by a school at 6am and taking a photo of the parking lot. Same thing with 6pm. While I can't speak for the early morning hours, I do drive by plenty of schools during the afternoon hours and most times the parking lots are mostly cleared out 30 minutes after school lets out. I guess we'll have to agree to disagree until school starts back up. But I don't expect to see anything but a barren parking lot at both 6am and 6pm.
Earl Elevant July 16, 2012 at 03:17 AM
Oops on my last post. Thought the levy was in November. Guess we won't have any time to see these teachers supposedly putting in such long days before the vote on the levy.
Adam C. Miller July 17, 2012 at 04:02 PM
I think it is time for churches and other religious institutions to start paying a SMALL % of property taxes in their areas...
Chris August 09, 2012 at 01:39 PM
If I hear one more time this is for the children I might scream. It's not for the children the money is for the teachers salary and benefits that suck up 85% of budget. My children go to woodridge and all the cuts that are being talked about hurt the kids. Maybe the greedy teachers should chip in more on benefits and take a pay freeze and get rid of poor performing teachers.

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