It is a privilege to be part of the Bexley community, where raising children is seen as important work and people of all ages invest in education and thereby, our future. I am writing to share a concern that our district's contentious teacher contract negotiations are harming the schools and the community. It has been suggested that the teachers are being cheated out of money the district has stockpiled, that the school board simply refuses to give teachers a raise. That is not the case.

It is a privilege to be part of the Bexley community, where raising children is seen as important work and people of all ages invest in education and thereby, our future. I am writing to share a concern that our district's contentious teacher contract negotiations are harming the schools and the community. It has been suggested that the teachers are being cheated out of money the district has stockpiled, that the school board simply refuses to give teachers a raise. That is not the case.

As treasurer Chris Essman articulated at the September board of education meeting, school tax collections follow a cycle of surplus to deficit. Bexley has reached the point in our tax cycle where the district's expenditures will exceed the revenues. As the current balance decreases, future funding will be needed. We are also facing unprecedented economic stresses. As state revenues decline it is difficult for the board to know what future budget reductions will be enacted. Additionally, the unfunded requirement for all-day kindergarten will add new costs to the budget.

We are fortunate to have skilled and dedicated professionals in all levels of our district, educators, administrators and those serving on the school board. District leadership has done an exceptional job providing schools we are justifiably proud of while insulating our community from the financial upheavals many districts are now experiencing.

Please do not lose sight of the board's responsibility to the voters and to the community. Because of their sound fiscal management this district has exceeded the promise made to voters not to have a school tax levy on the ballot for five years. Currently, the district is in mediation with the teacher's union. Please trust in the mediation process and the honorable intentions of those involved.

The viability of this community is directly related to the success of the city's schools. Give the process time and a resolution will be reached -- everyone can then return to the important work of educating our children.

I was disturbed to read the articles about Bexley teachers' demand for raises, and their negotiating tactics. It is simply unrealistic for the teachers to expect raises in the current environment. While Bexley may not be in dire straights like some other districts, it is not immune to the recession.

Many residents, including state government employees, have had to accept pay cuts or are being forced to take unpaid days off. This will no doubt have an impact on the district's income tax receipts.

While Bexley has many fine teachers, now is not an appropriate time to increase their pay. I am contacting the school board members and urging them to resist the union's demands.