New Albany

District officials must learn from past mistakes

To the editor:

For more than 25 years, New Albany-Plain Local officials and school board members have let down the community from a financial management standpoint.

First, in 1986 they approved the Win-Win arrangement with Columbus without really understanding the economic or student-enrollment impact. Since 1986, they have paid the Columbus City Schools many millions of dollars and then in turn failed to manage student growth in Win-Win areas.

Hundreds if not thousands of new apartments and high-density condos were built, dramatically increasing student enrollment. Taxes in Win-Win areas do not come anywhere close to covering the costs of educating these students.

Second, they have failed to manage wage growth and benefits for the various unions involved in the schools. Wage increases have continually doubled and tripled inflation and district officials passed on these excessive increases to the community via increased property taxes.

Third, they gave away approximately $6 million in the recent artificial refinancing of school bonds.

Assuming that the recent bond issue and levy passes (by the absolute skinniest of margins), will they be responsible enough to understand that approximately 50 percent of the community is concerned about monies being spent?

Will they make sure that they prudently spend monies on the new building and not build the next Taj Mahal?

Will they make sure there is adequate planning to handle the next building expansion nine or 10 years from now?

Will they utilize new government guidelines that allow them to build new facilities using non-union labor and streamlined construction management?

Will they finally push back during the next round of union negotiations and keep increases in the cost-of-living range?

Will they actually look at costs, prioritize programs currently in place and weed out those with the least benefit?

They haven't dealt effectively with these issues in the past. Hopefully they will in the future.

David Maul
New Albany