Alluding to the story of Moses guiding the Israelites to Canaan in Old Testament scripture, Terry Jones called South-Western Alternatives to Taxes members to action during a meeting July 16.

Alluding to the story of Moses guiding the Israelites to Canaan in Old Testament scripture, Terry Jones called South-Western Alternatives to Taxes members to action during a meeting July 16.

Jones, who held the meeting at the Grove City Church of God, compared the plight of those fighting the South-Western City Schools operating levy to that of the Israelites looking to settle in Canaan in Numbers chapter 13 and 14.

In the story, 10 of the 12 scouts Moses sent to explore the Promised Land gave "an evil report of the land." Only two, Joshua and Caleb, had faith enough to take the land from the "giants" and "iron chariots" that presided there.

Jones equated levy endorsements from Jim Tressel and Richard Cordray to the "giants" and media endorsements from The Columbus Dispatch and The Grove City Record as the "iron chariots."

"We can't let them (levy supporters) make us afraid," he said. "I'm not ready to turn my sword into a plowshare just yet. We got a fight ahead of us."

His message seemed well received, as the nearly 20 residents in attendance nodded and encouraged Jones in his speech.

"I've been wanting to meet you for a long time," said Dennis Smith, as he stood to talk to Jones. "You're doing the right thing. I'm so fed up with these taxes I can't see straight."

The meeting started with Jones and Frederic E. Van Order giving presentations. Afterward, nearly all residents present asked questions and commented on their reasoning for voting against the levy. Most cited lack of transparency and fiscal irresponsibility for their stance against the levy, especially with the most recent act by the school board to sign a so-called contract with the community that was signed only by school board members.

"Some might say if you're a 'no' voter, you're uninformed, selfish, anti-kid or worse," Van Order said. "It's OK to vote 'no.'"

He said school district officials can relieve the burden on taxpayers by using more volunteers to support extracurricular activities than paid staff members "to help relieve the load."

"Every time I bring it up, I might as well be looking at the faces of Mt. Rushmore," he added. "The only option is to cut the money off."

Jones reiterated his proposition to school board officials to "lean up" contracts from the teachers, administrators and classified staff unions, rather than attempting another local tax issue.

He said teacher and administrator compensation is "disproportionate" to the average income of residents of South-Western schools.

School board members attempt levies to pay rising costs that come from employee salaries and benefits, not for extracurricular activities, Van Order said. For officials to say the levy is necessary to afford extracurricular activities instead of working to shrink the district staff costs is a failed political tactic, he added.

"I think the district has shot themselves in the foot," he said. "They haven't been as transparent as they should have been."

Van Order was encouraged to run for school board.

"I would be muzzled," he said. "Also, I don't think the problem can be fixed at that level."

He said school funding must be fixed at the state level before voters can begin to see fewer levy attempts.

"It's time to pull the Band-Aid off," he added.

Also, conservatives would need a plurality of three members on the school board to make any changes, Van Order said.

Jones said money is another problem with running a campaign for school board.

Van Order said the best solution is to vote "no" on Issue 2, an 8.3-mill, four-year operating levy, and encourage community members to write letters to politicians, pushing for a change in the school funding scheme at the state level.

Bob Whittier, a resident, read a letter to close the meeting. He said for school district officials to attempt a tax issue in a "bad economy" makes little sense.

"It should be as plain as the noses on their faces," he said. "I urge you on behalf of SWAT and behalf of the citizens of Grove City, vote 'no' on this levy."