To the editor:

To the editor:

I am struggling with the school tax issue.

Due to revenue reductions through no fault of the board, additional funds are needed. However, I cannot agree that the board has been responsible stewards of the taxpayers’ money. Fiscal year 2012 was forecast with a $9,919,389 deficit prior to property tax reductions. The forecast revenue from other sources (state aid, personal property tax, etc.) for FY 2012 actually increased from the October 2010 forecast.

The FY 2012 deficit is to be covered with reserve funds. That is not a true balanced budget, in my opinion, and is unsustainable.

This deficit occurred because the school board approved increased continuing expenses and entered into contracts without continuing funds to support them. This happens repeatedly and as long as this practice continues, the district will continue to face one financial crisis after another. I find the board misleading when stating that $23,000,000 in cuts are needed when the FY 2013 forecast shows $8,661,674 of the $23,000,000 is due to a forecast 5.8-percent increase in employees’ pay and benefits.

The forecast also incorporates additional 5.9 percent- and 6-percent increases in employee pay and benefits for FY 2014 and FY 2015. Some of this may be justified due to increased enrollment. However, the majority is due to increases for current employees.

This tells me that if the tax issue passes, the board’s intention is to continue the status quo (substantial pay increases) when negotiating upcoming staff contracts. I find that the amount of the tax issue, which is based on the forecast budget, is an unreasonable burden to ask of the taxpayers who are not enjoying such increases.

Therein lies my dilemma: The district needs additional revenue but I cannot in good conscience support a tax issue beyond actual need that advocates unsustainable financial practices.

Pam Arbogast


To the editor:

I write about the Westerville schools’ tax levy, Issue 20, and why I will vote yes.

With all the rhetoric about pros and cons, the fact remains that the Westerville school system has a current rating of excellent with distinction, the highest rating attainable. I have grandchildren É and I wish to assure that this supportive environment is sustained over the many years they are in the system and for other children entering the Westerville system in the future.

Education has been an important value in our family and we cannot shirk our duty to provide support to that value. Once a system becomes dismantled, the unintended consequences will be harder and costlier to resurrect and maintain than sacrificing and providing the support needed at this critical time.

For those without children or grandchildren in the Westerville system, recall that there were generations of citizens in your old school system who voted for levies so you could have an education. They knew it was the right thing to do.

Frank Barone


To the editor:

Our Westerville Public Library has delivered superb services to its patrons very economically for many, many years. Levels of use and number of customers have continued to climb as the library has repeatedly garnered national awards.

Now this hometown treasure needs our help at the ballot box Nov. 8. Deep state cuts have already occurred with more on the way. And the existing levy — the only local funds the library receives — is scheduled to expire at the end of its five-year term. Please help to stabilize the library budget and protect its vital services.

Please join me in voting “yes” on Issue 19 to protect our library, for now and for our future.

Eric Busch


To the editor:

The Westerville Public Library has been a well-respected institution for over 80 years and has continually been recognized as one of the nation’s best libraries.

In fact, it’s been in the top 10 of the U.S. since 1999. This recognition is well deserved, as the Westerville Public Library serves over 100,000 registered, active cardholders and does so by spending less than any other central Ohio library.

The Westerville Public Library is all about service to its customers. It has always been on the cutting edge of technology, which enables more and more patrons to access its collections, meeting their needs at no cost to them.

As a past member of the board of trustees, I have seen firsthand the hard work and dedication of its staff under the guidance of director Don Barlow. They are always searching out new ways to reach customers all while remaining under budget.

The Westerville Public Library needs our help. Funding from the state of Ohio has been and will be continually reduced, thereby severely limiting the library’s ability to serve its customers — the people of Westerville. The library has already made huge cuts to their budget by decreasing offerings of such things as story hours and other programs. It is no longer open on Sunday.

On Nov. 8, I urge you to help me support this great institution by voting yes on Issue 19.

Kathleen Cocuzzi


To the editor:

As a skinflint, I write this at the cost of a postage stamp in support of the Westerville Public Library tax levy.

I save money by visiting the library to read the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspapers. I also have a good choice of other publications. There is a good selection of CD movies and music.

I could save money by checking out books instead of buying them at high prices. Used books are cheap — 50 cents for paperbacks and $1 for hardcovers. Unlike other libraries, there is a comfortable place for smokers. Mothers with tots find the library inviting and useful, as do we senior citizens. The proposed library tax issue would make it the lowest in the area. It is appealing to us skinflints for the reasons stated.

James E. Crabtree


To the editor:

Here we go again. Since moving here in 1996, it seems we’re voting for a new, replacement or previously failed levy every year.

As a retired homeowner, I’m against another levy and wonder how we keep passing levies yet we’re always out of money. Hearing the same rhetoric about horrible consequences of failure, dedicated teachers, poor kids, school ratings, rankings, mandates, diminished home values, etc. is getting old. I had a discussion with the district’s community relations director, who explained part of the problem was lost revenue from a diminished tax base due to foreclosures, bankruptcies and home reappraisals.

Help me out here: People can’t afford their homes now and the school system wants to raise taxes? Is it their intent we all go bankrupt? One wonders if board members and administrators ever listen to anyone outside their own circle.

I attended a cookout this summer with 12 young people, of which 10 went to Westerville North in the ’90s. To my shock, all hated it and could hardly wait to get out. Universally, they felt teachers favored athletes, overachievers, do-gooders and whiners and the rest. I guess if the board places that much emphasis on excellence ratings, these actions may make sense to someone. However, if your kid isn’t in the “privileged” category, school life just might turn out to be a little less memorable.

Ron Dietrich


To the editor:

When I opened the door to retrieve the morning paper recently, I noticed that a sign expressing my views on a ballot issue had disappeared. This constitutes theft from my property.

Similar signs have been disappearing daily from other prime locations in a way that goes beyond mere whim or prank. Organized, calculated theft of selected signs reflects an intolerant community, one too insecure to allow differing opinions. Is that what “our community” is all about?

As attributed to Voltaire, “I disapprove of what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

Peg Duffy


To the editor:

It is really impressive that the Westerville school district has not only received the state of Ohio’s highest rating, excellent with distinction, for two years in a row.

It is also impressive that the Westerville school district has actually improved its rating from the state in each of the past five years. Add to that the fact that our school district is well below the state average in cost per pupil and our teachers’ average salary is below most of the school districts in Franklin County. I think these facts clearly demonstrate that Westerville schools are doing more with less.

Vote yes for high achievement and for low overhead. Vote yes for the Westerville school levy.

Alisa Franklin


To the editor:

Westerville’s upcoming school levy in has me thinking about barns.

A leaning barn is a sad thing, I think. Driving in rural areas, I have often wondered about shambling barns: What has happened to a barn that it slips off-kilter? A storm? Sometimes it’s clear that the barn is no longer part of a working farm. But when the farm is still working, how does a barn get to the point where it is catawampus?

Having noticed, at what point does the owner decide to let a building go, to walk away and let gravity take its toll? It can’t be an easy decision. To save it costs money, to be sure. But once the barn is committed to falling, the expense to rebuild is many times more than the cost would have been to shore it up when it first started to slip.

In agricultural areas, the life of a region is reflected by the health of the local farms.

A working farm is a commitment to a dream. And, like a school, a barn represents a significant investment of capital and planning, labor and love. Often in Ohio, where barn-raising is a community event, a barn represents an investment of community trust, and is recognition that our lives are intertwined.

Westerville’s barn is beginning to lean. It’s time to shore up our schools. Vote for Westerville City Schools. Vote for Issue 20.

Jim Grannis


To the editor:

In the Oct. 20 paper, there were six letters to the editor in support of the Westerville school levy. Four out of the six are current teachers in Westerville.

Those four teachers’ hourly pay is as follows: $39.13, $44.97, $34.04, and one teacher made $55.25 an hour in 2008. This is for working 185 days a year, or six months a year. The Ohio Department of Taxation currently has a posting for an Attorney 6 position, starting pay $33.83 an hour. An Attorney 6 is a senior attorney in taxation, the highest level an attorney can achieve.

Teachers are making more than state attorneys who, by the way, work the entire year. Teachers argue that you cannot really compute their hourly rate because they work longer than eight hours a day. Welcome to the real world, where most salaried professions work longer than eight-hour days and are not paid for overtime.

To say you have to pay large salaries to get good teachers is not true. Good teachers are good because they are passionate about their jobs. It has been my experience that bad teachers are in it for the pay and time off.

The bottom line is, how much is enough — $100, $200, $1,000 an hour? At what salary does a teacher become a good teacher?

Finally, if Westerville is in such dire need for money, why did they spend $3 million on artificial turf for the high school football fields? Their justification is it cost $25,000 a year to maintain a football field so the artificial turf will pay for itself. Really? Do the math. It will take 40 years to break even. If there was money for this, Westerville doesn’t need another levy.

Nancy Johnson


To the editor:

Without good schools, our students will fail, our community will crumble.

In order to maintain quality schools in Westerville, the voters must say yes to Issue 20.

Westerville has lost nearly $14 million from the state and other tax revenue sources. Despite a lack of funds, Westerville City Schools has managed to maintain school programs through the current school year. Westerville’s annual cost per pupil is 25 percent lower than the average of six other leading districts. Teacher pay in Westerville is ranked 11th out of the 16 school districts in Franklin County, yet Westerville City Schools achieved Ohio’s excellent with distinction rating from the state of Ohio and all three of the high schools were rated by Newsweek as among the top high schools in the country.

The district has succeeded in multiple ways while maintaining fiscal responsibility. Additional revenue is needed in order to maintain excellence, meet future requirements and build upon academic progress.

Severe cuts and/or the elimination of sports, band, theater, clubs, student council, art, music, physical education, technology, world languages, electives, guidance services, busing, field trips, International Baccalaureate, magnet schools, Bodies program, Metro/Mosaic, reading specialists, media specialists, teachers, support staff and administrative staff will limit the opportunities our students have to be skilled and competitive members of society.

Families move into communities that have good schools. Good schools keep kids engaged, provide opportunities and keep communities active and involved. These factors raise your property value; they attract buyers.

If the levy doesn’t pass, Westerville as we know it will change for the worse. This is a reality.

Talk to students, teachers and parents. Think about your education and your community. I ask you to say yes to Issue 20.

Katie Kikta


To the editor:

The Westerville Public Library and Westerville City Schools are cornerstones of our strong community and they need our support.

The Westerville Public Library earned a five-star rating from the Library Journal. It also received national recognition as a top-ranked library among those serving populations of 50,000 to 99,999. Services have continued to grow each year with increases in both customers and circulation.

Our library delivers extensive community services with the lowest level of public funding in Franklin County. Without our support, it stands to lose 100 percent of local funding and 42 percent of overall funding.

With more than 15,000 students, Westerville City School District is the 12th-largest school district in Ohio. For the second year in a row, Westerville schools received the highest rating by the state of Ohio — excellent with distinction — while spending 25 percent less per pupil than the average of the other six highest-rated districts in Franklin County.

Our nationally recognized Westerville Public Library and excellent with distinction Westerville City School District are treasures that contribute to the success of our reputation as a model community.

Please join me in voting yes for the Westerville Public Library and Westerville Schools on Nov. 8.

Dr. Kathy A. Krendl


Otterbein University


To the editor:

Election Day 2011 is drawing close — the fantastic freedom we, as citizens, have to cast our ballot, our one vote for the candidates and issues in which we believe.

In social studies classes throughout the district, our students are taught about freedom of speech and the price we have paid for these rights and freedoms. To the number of men and women from our city, our state and our country who are presently serving in the armed forces just so we have the right to freedom of speech and the right to vote, we say thank you.

Unfortunately, some people in this city feel the right to free speech is of little value. They feel it is perfectly OK to go onto people’s property and remove political signs that do not agree with their views.

I am a widow of a veteran. That gives me the right to display a sign that urges a “no” vote on Issue 20 without members of this community removing that right.

Mary Medors


To the editor:

When I consider the menu of ballot issues on Election Day, I think hard about what I’m getting for my dollar.

I’m a value-seeking consumer. I shop for good deals and don’t like to sacrifice quality. I weigh alternatives: if I don’t “buy” something on the ballot, then where and how will I replace it? How much will it cost me?

The Westerville Public Library has been a bargain for years. The value of the books that my household has borrowed each year far outweighs the library’s portion of our property tax. Buying just my kids’ Accelerated Reader books over the years would have outweighed the levy monies collected.

I also would have purchased and pitched an annual assortment of travel guides and more than a couple of magazines, had not current publications been available at the library. Adding in the movies and CDs that I’ve borrowed instead of renting or purchasing, my appreciation for the library’s up-to-date inventories grows. WPL has offered an excellent value proposition. Now that value proposition could change.

For almost 10 years, the library was able to maintain nationally recognized service levels without additional assistance from taxpayers. However, shortly after the last levy was renewed, the state started slashing its funding to libraries. It was cut 32 percent in 2008 and 7 percent this year. Through tough cost-containment measures, the library has trimmed and delayed expenses.

However, WPL has not been able to address some significant operating needs and requests our help, especially as additional state cuts are on the horizon. I’m willing to pay a little more for quality because it’s still a great bargain. Don’t be complacent — protect our library. Vote yes on Issue 19.

Ellen Milnes


To the editor:

I am concerned about the future of Westerville City Schools and ask citizens of Westerville to have an open mind and gather information from fact-based sources such as the Our Community Our Schools websites, when deciding whether to vote for the levy.

I am an educator in Westerville, but more importantly, a graduate of the Westerville City Schools who returned to Westerville to raise my family. I returned because of the opportunities that my children would have in the school system and I have watched these opportunities slowly disappear over the past few years.

I remember my parents voting for the levies so I could have these opportunities and I will do the same for my children, no matter what the cost. I can’t understand why any parent would oppose the levy and hope they don’t have to see the long-term damage voting down this current levy request could cause.

The cuts proposed by the members of the board of education are not a scare tactic, they will happen.

Our district has done an excellent job maintaining a high quality of education with less. Teachers and staff have seen the gradual changes and our children can’t afford to see more.

I commend the board for being the first to use an income tax as part of the levy. Teachers fought hard for a raise to stay competitive with other districts and then returned part of that very raise in order to help our district in these tough economic times. We have all worked together to maintain excellence with less, so I ask you to help continue that excellence. Please support students by voting yes on Nov. 8.

Melissa Simashkevich


To the editor:

My Saturday began with my daughter heading out the door to attend a morning volleyball practice at Westerville North High School, where the varsity team is preparing for the sectionals tournament. Next, I walked through my neighborhood, hearing the Westerville North band as they held practice in the field behind the school. I walked to the high school grounds and saw a virtual tent city of cross country teams as buses and parents from across the league descended upon Jim McCann Field for the OCC tournament. This was all before 9 a.m. on a Saturday. I am sure a similar scene was playing out at Westerville’s two other high schools.

If tomorrow is a typical Sunday, a group of my daughter’s friends will come to our house to prepare for this week’s assignments in their Advanced Placement biology, calculus and language arts courses.

If next Friday night is typical, students will convene en masse at the North football game, dressed in this week’s spiritwear theme. There will be a very large crowd of students and parents, despite the fact that the football team is having a tough season.

I realize it’s possible all of this rich experience that is at the heart of our community will not be around next year if the levy fails.

The passion and discipline required for high-level courses and extracurricular activities displayed by these awesome students, parents, teachers and coaches have helped our schools achieve the top excellent with distinction rating.

I am not happy about my taxes increasing, but Westerville’s schools are the heart and soul of the community. Please vote for Westerville schools and keep this important part of our community vibrant, helping to prepare our students for a productive future.

June Toscano


To the editor:

I live in the Westerville City Schools district. My wife and I have a son and a daughter that are recent graduates of North and Central high schools, respectively.

When we relocated to central Ohio in the late ’90s, we selected Westerville because of its strong sense of community and secure property values, but primarily because of the reputation of the school system. It was clear to us that the community valued its schools and we knew that our kids would receive a high-quality, well-rounded education.

This indeed has proven to be the case and we couldn’t be more proud of our children or more appreciative of the Westerville City Schools.

As I read about the upcoming school levy, I am growing increasingly concerned that today’s kids will not have the same opportunity for success if the levy does not pass. Many programs, academic and extracurricular, will have to be reduced or eliminated. I think about how tragic it would be to risk the future of for our kids and our community.

I am concerned that families relocating to central Ohio today will be less likely to consider Westerville if the levy did not pass and significant reductions were required as a result.

Please join me in preserving the excellence of our schools and of our community by voting for the levy on Nov. 8.

Brad Yoho