To the editor:
It appears New Albany-Plain Local School District officials are hoping that by coupling a bond issue with an operating levy request, the levy will slide through.
It also appears district officials have done little investigation into true cost-reduction alternatives. Much of the savings mentioned recently by district officials resulted from early renewal and renegotiation of union contracts, trading off 3 to 4 percent of the increases in the final contract year for 3 to 4 percent increases in years two and three of the new contract. Additional "savings" came from recovery of Win-Win overpayments, and other "savings" were not savings at all but reductions of future increases and/or inflated budgets.
True savings alternatives need to be examined before determining actual monies needed from a levy. Superintendent April Domine asked the community for cost-savings suggestions but there have been no reports to the community on suggestions or their viability. Nor has there been any serious elaboration as to programs or other costs that might be cut if the levy fails.
Instead of looking for cost savings, district officials actually increased the budget by $500,000 per year for undefined "innovation" and additional teacher training, which was discussed at a recent school board meeting. District officials should prove to the community that they have seriously looked at cost-savings alternatives before asking for more money.
Another concern is that district officials have indicated the levy would be for two years, giving the district the opportunity to prove itself. However, according to the filing with the Franklin County Auditor's Office, district officials requested a continuous or permanent levy. The only way the levy could be "undone" would be for district officials to put it back on the ballot. When was the last time a group of public officials ever voluntarily gave money back to a community?
New Albany-Plain Local residents should vote "no" on the combined bond and levy request. They should force district officials to present each issue separately, to go back and answer all open issues and questions regarding new facilities and to seriously look into operating cost-saving alternatives.