To the editor:
This November, the Worthington Board of Education is again asking the taxpayers for more money to fund our schools. This is the fifth levy in 11 years, of which none have been replacement levies. They have all been additional taxes heaped onto Worthington residents.
What exactly is this extracted money being spent on? According to treasurer Jeff McCuen, 88 percent of their $76 million operating budget goes to fund the teacher salaries, health insurance and retirement benefits. The average Worthington teacher salary (again per Mr. McCuen) is approximately $73,000, with an additional $20,000 in benefits -- a total of $93,000 a year for nine months work.
According to the school district's website, they will be back for another levy in 2016 even if this one passes.
What we have here is nothing more than an unfunded mandate. We are stuck in this perpetual levy cycle because of the unrealistic contracts the unions have negotiated with our school board. This situation is not unique to Worthington. States and cities throughout the country are scrambling to renegotiate prior contracts with public employees to close their budget deficits. Even though Worthington teachers will take a one-year pay freeze and contribute an additional small amount to their health care, this will not solve the problem. Don't be fooled by the argument that we are losing federal and state funding, as they have come to the taxpayers four times in the previous nine years.
According to board president Jennifer Best, residents know that the board will not come to them seeking a levy without first exhausting every possible cost-cutting measure and ensuring that any request for new money is reasonable. Have they really exhausted every possible cost-cutting measure with five new levies in 11 years?
Please join us, along with other concerned Worthington taxpayers, on Oct. 2 for an informational session regarding the levy at the Northwest Library on Hard Road at 7 p.m.