Worthington

School district engaging in endless levy campaign

Wednesday September 19, 2012 9:18 PM

To the editor:

Unemployment remains steadfastly above 8 percent (though the real rate might be closer to 15 percent), and a record number of Americans are on food stamps. Gasoline is at a record high, along with our electricity rates, and a new Federal Reserve report showed the 2010 median family net worth was no more than it had been in 1992.

It really is about the economy, isn't it?

Or is it really about the spending? Our national debt has exceeded $16 trillion.

Here in Worthington, we have reached the point where our school board and our school employees are asking to significantly increase our property taxes every single year. Since 2009, we have seen annual increases, and if this levy passes, we will see increases each year through 2015.

And guess what? They are already hinting at the need for yet another levy in 2015 or 2016. There really is no end in sight.

The key question is this: What are these increases paying for exactly?

If you look at the district's five-year forecast, you will see that prior to this year, spending on salaries and benefits was roughly 88 percent of all expenditures. By 2014, we will spend more than $100 million per year on salaries and benefits.

The endless levy campaigners (including those on the school board) have also threatened $10.2 million in cuts through 2017 if the levy fails. In other words, $10 million out of a $616 million (five-year) budget, or less than 2 percent. I will guess that the majority of households in Worthington have had to make more than a 2-percent adjustment to their own budgets over the past five years.

But here is the unfortunate truth; they will continue to make cuts even if the levy passes. This can be easily substantiated by looking at what has happened over the last 10 years; rapidly rising salary and benefit costs have reduced opportunities for the students.

I have had several parents ask me about educational programs for their kids. They have noticed a decline in classes and options that had been available to them, specifically EPP and foreign languages. My response is always the same: They will continue to see a decline as long as budget priorities favor the adults (the unions) and not the kids.

Educate Worthington noticed this trend starting in 2006 -- back in the good old days, when property-tax increases came once every three or four years or so. Unless the spending is brought under control, the entire system will collapse under its own weight, not just here in Worthington but also with the state and federal government. It is a matter of simple mathematics and of time.

The question is, what are the residents, school employees and district leaders in this community going to do about it? Are we going to make real and permanent change to the unsustainable spending that the union still demands or wait for it to fall like a house of cards?

Take the first step and get educated about the issues. Educate Worthington (educateworthington.org) will be giving a presentation on Worthington school finances Oct. 2 at 7 p.m. at the Northwest Library on Hard Road.

Come and be prepared to ask questions. And then be prepared to vote on Nov. 6.

John Herrington,
Educate Worthington member

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