To the Editor:
A letter to the editor from Dimon McFerson last week blamed the state of Ohio for inadequate funding of the Olentangy school system. While the school funding system in Ohio does result in a net outflow of our tax money to poorer districts in the state, state aid to Olentangy has historically been a small percentage of district revenue, even considering the recent increase in state funding Mr. McFerson chose not to mention.
He apparently goes on to give the current school board a pass on out-of-control spending and waste because of the amount of state funding, and incorrectly describes the per-pupil cost as the lowest of any of the larger districts in central Ohio. One has nothing to do with the other.
Moreover, McFerson's per-pupil cost omits interest expense and the district's debt of $348 million. In fact, adding in interest expense and debt adds about another $21,000 per pupil. It is not an accurate representation to exclude interest expense and debt. Our residents and taxpayers pay about $18 million in annual interest expense -- that's not free.
Mr. McFerson's state-funding alibi is not an excuse for the district's wasteful spending. There is incredible waste and a lack of meaningful cost-containment programs at Olentangy for which incumbent board members Feasel and King bear substantial responsibility. Whether it's invitation-only and non-transparent bid processes to favored law firms and an out-of-town IT consulting firm or unjustified pay adjustments to certain administrators of 15 to 35 percent, there are many examples of waste and mismanagement that have nothing whatsoever to do with state funding.
Our residents believe in and want excellence in our schools with prudent financial management. Neither Ms. Feasel nor Mr. King have provided that. Katy Barricklow and Brian Helwig have managed businesses and supported charities that benefit our community.
I urge my fellow residents and taxpayers to vote for school excellence and financial responsibility and support Katy Barricklow and Brian Helwig for our Olentangy school board.