Olentangy Valley News

Candidate thinks district reports 'fudging numbers'

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Katy Barricklow said she is running for Olentangy school board to ensure students are getting the best possible education at the lowest possible cost to the taxpayers.

Although current board members have said that's already happening, Barricklow said she believes they're misleading the public.

"The school board needs board members who are more fiscally responsible with our hard-earned tax dollars, more mindful of the future of our district and more considerate of the needs of students and parents," she said.

"I think the current business model is unsustainable, and students, teacher and taxpayers will all suffer the consequences."

Barricklow said that while the district touts its cost per pupil that is significantly lower than comparable districts, it is racking up debt that equals more than $20,000 per student.

When reporting cost per pupil to the Ohio Department of Education, districts must show three separate numbers factored on overall operating expenditures, classroom expenditures and non-classroom expenditures.

When benchmarking Olentangy with other districts, administrators consider only the instructional cost to educate a student over the course of a year and it does not factor in the debt the district is in as a result of bonds that were taken out to build new schools or the interest that it pays to service that debt.

"It's fudging numbers, really," Barricklow said. "They can give the illusion that the cost per pupil is lower than others around us. But eventually they're going to have to pay that debt back with interest and I think it matters to people. They want the real picture of how the district looks."

Fiscally conservative Barricklow said if she were to be elected Nov. 5 that she would do a full financial audit of the district to "eliminate waste," vote for lowering the debt before approving any raises and ensure that the bid processes for district services are competitive.

Barricklow said once the books are balanced, she'd begin the process of improving relations between the board and parents.

To do that, she would ask that the board rearrange its meeting format to allow audience members to speak after every action item on the agenda. Currently, meeting attendees are required to put their name on a sign-up sheet before the start of the meeting if they want to address the board during the public comments portion of the meeting.

"I have been hearing for several years from many parents that they don't feel the board and administration is listening to them," she said.

"There have been times where I've gone to board meetings and watched them on video and the regular voter or parent doesn't know what (board members) are going to say. So I would think that for them to expect us to have questions before the entire meeting starts is unrealistic."

A product rewards coordinator for the Alum Creek Elementary School PTO, Barricklow said her volunteer work has always focused on children. She has worked in Russian and Haitian orphanages and volunteers at the United Methodist Children's Home and Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.

Barricklow, 39, is an elected member of the Delaware County Republican Central Committee and sits on its screening subcommittee.

She and her husband, Brock, have lived in the district for four years and have a son. Barricklow would not say where her son attends school.

To learn more about Barricklow, visit votekatyb.com.

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