Very few Worthington residents would dispute the historic tradition of excellence in their educational system. Still fewer would question the teachers' dedication and contribution to that excellence.

Very few Worthington residents would dispute the historic tradition of excellence in their educational system. Still fewer would question the teachers' dedication and contribution to that excellence.

However, this has no bearing on the economic situation we find ourselves in today. As a recent letter to the editor pointed out, "Pay cuts, layoffs, and furloughs are the order of the day." This is what the Worthington community is experiencing. Are we any less dedicated to our professions? Any less deserving? Again, that is not the issue.

The inescapable fact is we have fewer resources at our disposal. The inevitable higher state taxes and looming increase in inflation will diminish those even further.

The school board and union must work together to significantly reduce spending now. The recent concession by the teachers' union is a step in the right direction, but the journey is far from over.

I urge the school board and the union to take the initiative to end the creation of an elite class in our community and "share the pain," so later when this downturn subsides, we can all share the gain. Together, we will get through this, as long as some are not "more equal" than others.

I have lived in Worthington all my life. I served the community as a teacher and school counselor for 29 years, and my husband, Gary, impacted hundreds of young lives during his 30 years as an elementary physical education teacher. I love this town and the quality of life it has provided for my family.

However, I'm worried. The quality of this community is atstake. The cuts that must be made if Issue 49 should fail are not administrative threats. Rather, they are necessary reductions that simply must happen.

Some would consider programs like guidance and physical education to be "frills" that won't be missed should they fall victim to a levy defeat. I strongly disagree. The social/emotional issues students are facing have a huge impact on youngsters' ability to learn. Issues like poverty, changes in family structure, abuse, drug and alcohol use, and learningdifferences are real and they are here.

We must help families address these challenges if children are to maximize their learning potential. With childhood obesityand diabetes on the rise and with the rising cost of health care, now is not the time to makecuts in the physical education program. Guidance and PE are just two of the programs that will be impacted by the cut list. These are the kinds of programs that make the difference between excellent schools and average schools.

Without proper funding, excellent schools quickly becomemediocre schools. Potential home buyers look elsewhere. Businesses lose vibrancy. The community rapidly becomes less desirable.

Like you, Gary and I would prefer not to pay additional taxmoney. However, we perceive a "yes" vote on Issue 49 to bean investment in the community we love.

I wanted to thank the Worthington community for the opportunities provided to my children when they attended Worthington Schools. All four of my children are unique and had different educational needs. The Worthington Schools provided educational opportunities for them all.

The results are proven. My oldest son lives in a group home now, and has had many challenges. He was in the first kindergarten class at Slate Hill. From the start the Special Education Department and IEP's were part of our lives. It was never easy, but it was always rewarding. My oldest daughter received an Army ROTC scholarship for nursing to Marquette University. She is now stationed at Walter Reed Medical Center. My younger daughter has received the Presidential Scholarship, which includes all tuition and board, at Morehead University in Kentucky. She had an nternship at the Great Sand Dunes National Park this past summer.

Both girls comment that they were very prepared for college. They noted that their English and writing skills were very strong. My youngest son is a freshman this year and his ACT scores allowed him to become involved in a science-immersion program. Their successes are directly connected to the education that they received in our school district.

They participated in sports, band and the extracurricular activities that each individual school offered. This part of their lives offered challenges, growth and opportunities for leadership that they have carried over into their young adult lives. The money that the community invested has been well spent and I thank you for it.

Our Worthington school district just received from the state a rating of "Excellent with Distinction." This is huge and everyone should be proud.

The best part about our Report Card Rating is not the Excellent; rather, it is the Excellent with Distinction. The Excellent means that our students are performing at high levels in regards to their performance on the state achievement tests. The district continues each year to see a steady rise in not only how many students pass the test but also a rise in the levels at which they are passing. Also, all subgroups were able to pass for that elusive "AYP" or Adequate Yearly Progress. Remember, that is the increase in the percent of students passing the tests for each subgroup and the goal is that by 2013-14 all students will pass.

In Ohio, however, we are also able to demonstrate progress through growth towards that goal. So this year, the district increased the number of standards passed from 28/30 to 29/30. The district increased its Performance Index (that is the measure of the level at which students are passing the test) and the district met AYP for all subgroups.

The Distinction comes from the new Value-Added Measure, which compares the growth that the students realize from one year to the next. Worthington was rated "green" or above expected growth. We have achieved that two years in a row. While there is certainly a lot flawed about an accountability system that rates schools based on how students did on one day of test-taking, the addition of the growth measure at least acknowledges that there is value to looking at the impact that a teacher and a school has on students over time.

The Worthington community can be proud that even with the challenges we face with our changing demographics, decreasing funding and tough economic times that our teachers are doing all they can to ensure students leave them better than when they came to them.

On Sunday, Oct. 4, a "Celebration of Excellence" will be held on the front lawn at Thomas Worthington High School from 2-4 p.m. I feel that we should all celebrate.

Please join me in congratulating our teachers, students, parents and administrators. Be proud. See you at Thomas, rain or shine, on the Oct. 4.