Rocky Fork Enterprise

$3,500 annually

Board defends membership fee for lobbying group


The $3,500 annual membership fee the Gahanna-Jefferson Public School District pays to an organization that lobbies on behalf of school districts is worth every cent, district officials said in response to a concern raised by a resident during the school board's June 13 meeting at Clark Hall.

Imperial Drive resident Matthew Campbell questioned the return on investment for the fee the district pays to the Alliance for Adequate School Funding.

"The concern I have with the school district spending $3,500 on a membership for a lobbying group is, are the benefits quantifiable?" Campbell said.

Before the board voted unanimously to approve the membership fee, board members and district administrators explained the benefits the membership offers.

Board president Windy McKenna said the Alliance for Adequate School Funding performs an essential function on behalf of the district, representing its interests before the Ohio General Assembly. She said the $3,500 annual membership fee amounts to 50 cents per student in the district.

"This group represents suburban school districts around the state that have similar problems," McKenna said. "Not only do we not have time to go down to the Statehouse ourselves, but these people are the experts in who to talk to, how to talk to them. ... They know how to plead our cases. I think it's worth every 50 cents."

Gahanna-Jefferson Superintendent Francis Scruci said the organization saves the district time in administrative hours in trying to contact legislators about important issues.

"We don't have the time as superintendents, as administrators, as board members to go out and lobby, so we have to look for groups that protect the interests of the school district," he said. "For instance, unfunded mandates. In my opinion, we get more than the value."

District treasurer Julio Valladares said the lobbying group provides the district with metrics about the outcomes of its lobbying efforts.

"We get data based on the research they do related to school funding" and other issues, Valladares said.

In other business, the board unanimously approved several employment-related items:

• The retirement resignations of five certificated employees.

• The resignations of six certificated employees.

• The acceptance of resignations of three classified employees.

• The employment of 15 certified employees.

• The employment of three administrative employees.

• The employment of three classified/unclassified employees (two office secretaries and an educational aide).

• The employment of classified/unclassified substitutes (17 bus drivers, 17 custodians and 12 secretaries).

• The re-employment of 31 unclassified employees.