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Breaking with our historic perspective of school levies

Published: Sun, May 1, 2011 @ 12:00 a.m.

For as long as anyone writing for The Vindicator today can remember, this newspaper has always endorsed the passage of additional property tax levies to fund education in Mahoning Valley school districts.

We are shifting our position from one of unconditional support for new school taxes to one calling for voters to take additional time and make the added effort to evaluate whether their school districts need and deserve the additional revenue being sought.

So, where in the past the reader would have seen a darkened box beside the words “For the tax levy” on the sample ballots appearing opposite this page, today neither the “for” nor “against” box is blackened.

A considered opinion

We have not taken this step away from instinctively endorsing additional levies lightly. And we are not joining the increasingly popular “just say no” or “starve the beast” anti-tax movements. Financing our schools involves complicated issues that deserve better than a recycled anti-drug slogan. And we’re not confronting “beasts” when discussing school funding. We’re grappling with the need to educate our children and our neighbors’ children — the young people who will some day determine the future of our communities and our nation.

The reader will find that we have continued to endorse passage of the school renewal levies appearing on the ballots. That is as much a recognition of the economic realities of the day as is our decision to not issue blanket endorsements of additional levies. We don’t believe school boards can work miracles; that is, at time when state support is being cut and costs — especially in energy — are rising, districts can’t sustain cuts in their vital local funding sources.

There is little question that some, if not all, of the school districts seeking additional revenue deserve the support of their voters and taxpayers. However, we are not prepared as a community institution to pick the “winners” and “losers” among them.

These are difficult times in our nation and in our corner of Northeast Ohio. Such times require all of us to re-evaluate how we view things and the principles on which we operate.


1ytown1(397 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

Can anyone at the Vindicator explain when does an Emergency Levy become a non-emergency levy?

I say an Emergency levy should only be allowed to be for a 2-3 year period, then if there is a real need to make this a true levy issue then it should be addressed as such, not given the "No New Taxes" pass.

Either it was a true emergency or just a levy that was needed to cover another huge increase in benefits that was not planned for? I will be waiting for an answer, hopefully we can get one before the election coming up next week?

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2Philo(99 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

It's interesting that your decision to not support all levies, carte blanche, comes at a time when it appears a majority of the voters seem to be re-thinking their options as well. It is also worth noting that something needs to be done about the practice of placing these levies on the ballot over and over and over again, often at taxpayer expense, until by some miracle of timing and voter turnout, they pass. There needs to be some limit, once a year for example, of how often a public entity can place a levy on the ballot. If this option was limited, it would force those responsible to develop more creative solutions. As it is, they simply refuse to take no for an answer. If the legislature won"t help with this problem by enacting a law to prevent this, then the voters need to continue to deny funding and perhaps even remove those individuals who don't seem to "get the message."

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3paulparks(235 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

"However... we are not prepared to pick the winners and losers..." Thank goodness the Vindicator is deviating from its blanket endorsement of school levies. Maybe we've all been too complacent in knee-jerk approval of these ballot issues. I'd love to see "real" statistics in the passionate letters in favor of these levies, like:
(1) The cost per teacher for health care benefits,
(2) The percentage of taxpayer contribution to teacher pensions compared to private sector employer contributions,
(3) The teacher cost per student as the teacher gets step-raises, other raises and yearly increased cost of health benefits, &
(4) The actual dollar average per homeowner in local funding that a school district takes compared to the average district's dollars per homeowner.

This is a start to seeing the "real" costs of these levies.

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4UnionForever(1470 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

School levies are only about 15% for the kids and 85% for the greedy selfish public union school employees so they can continue their plush pay and benefits at taxpayers' expense. The time has finally come, and the Vindy recognizes it, that people need to say NO to school levies and let SB5 reduce the cost of the plush benefits. The recent 3 year union deals before the election are just the selfish unios way of offsetting the SB5 before it takes effect. Vote NO folks and put your school in academic emergency so SB5 can then be used to get them out of financial emergency.

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5repeaters(293 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

It's fourth down, and instead of the Vindy going for it.....they punted.

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6repeaters(293 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

"We don’t believe school boards can work miracles; that is, at time when state support is being cut and costs — especially in energy — are rising, districts can’t sustain cuts in their vital local funding sources."

These are costs only related to school boards...get serious please. Are not ALL citizens having the same problem, some more than others, and they don't have news reporters at their beckon call to explain their problems to as school boards. Try going to a school board meeting and telling them you can't afford their levys.....go ahead, try.
One more thing for those who support SB5 thinking that if the unions get a raise, your employer will give you one also. THOSE DAYS ARE GONE. Employers are NOT responsible for your voting decisions and paying for them; but you better be.

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7paulparks(235 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

The school boards don't represent us. They are in cahoots with the teachers to maintain the status quo. If they were like business executives, they would be trying to get us the best possible deal for our employment dollars. When you ask for transparency, they pick the statistics to use. It's what they don't tell you that counts. There are even web sites on how to get school levies passed. Don't think for a minute that these superintendents don't compare notes on strategies to win levy passage. All government entities will take all the money they can to spend because they make all their obligations BEFORE they go to the taxpayer with the bill. And the incestuous school systems (board/superintendent & teachers' union) feed off of the standards of pay set by the unions, which all share information and always push to have all school districts be equally unfair to the taxpayers - at the highest rates. The absolute only way we have to control this raping of the taxpayer is by saying no, no, no! A school board will never really try to get us the most for our money until we deny them unbridled access to our hard-earned money over and over and over again.

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8candystriper(575 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

Whole Foods has cherries for $9.99...food inflation is what I would be thinking about when

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92muchtax(714 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

My kids teacher makes way more money than me or my wife working 9 months a year and her retirement is approx. 5 times better than the social security we will get. we pay 20% for healthcare and they avg 9% do you think we want to vote for more levis so they keep getting their automatic raises and retire in their 50's sb5 has been needed for a long time and hopefullt it will help! so they dont have to keep putting these levis on the ballot every few years. These public unions need to go

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10yes(10 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

Teachers are not over paid. Neither are doctors or attorneys or wherever the average individual works. We are all underpaid, but we all watch the overpaid work. By this I mean those who watch television. Compared to actors, football players, basketball players, or baseball players and newscasters, we make peanuts.

The fact confronting Canfield, Poland, McDonald, and many school systems is that the TAXPAYERS are the persons paying the salaries. TAXPAYERS are the boss or business owner in a sense. At this time in Ohio we have become top heavy with government employees and less private sector workers. Public servants are no longer servants to the taxpayer, but a burden. All the school systems I have reviewed have paid their teachers some handsome increases along with some really nice administrators increases. Problem is that there are not many TAXPAYERS if any making enough money to fund these increases.

In 2006 my wife’s teaching job was eliminated. After 28 years of service no union could save it, nor could her good employee evaluations. As a result she found a new teaching position and had her salary reduced about 32%. When I look at the pay increases in these school districts, I see salary increases of as much as $19,000 since 2004. Sure those people may be worth it, but can we afford to pay it? Shame on those public servants for even asking the TAXPAYER for pay increases in the current economic time, expecting us to approve it in a TAX increase. We are in hard economic times. Why must the employer (the TAXPAYER) commit to this type of pay increase when we have not had that increase ourselves in most cases? Think about the fixed income individuals that will share the burden of the TAX to pay our public servants that make over $50,000 per year.

When every teacher and administrator takes 32% cut in pay like our household did, most TAXPAYERS would not mind helping out too if needed. Let us all think outside the box and look for other ways to pay our public servants. How about some contributions from those people we watch work everyday or may be just stop watching the actors and sports figures work.

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11spiritfree(3 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

The website www.buckeyeinstitute.org has clearly illuminated just how much of our taxpayer dollars Canfield teachers are paid for 184 days of work. Please bear in mind that their work day is roughly 6.25 to 7.25 hours with no holidays, no weekends, no shifts and that they are off most "snow days" when winter weather makes travel challenging. Please recall that they have received substantial yearly raises throughout this economic downturn when employees in the private sector may not have been duly compensated in kind and may have actually incurred pay cuts. Canfield teachers and administrators do not contribute nearly the percentage of what private sector employees contribute to their medical benefits and their pensions are 3 to 4 times what those in the private sector will collect from Social Security. I respectfully submit that we the Canfield taxpayers and parents hold Canfield teachers and administrators accountable. They need to derive their own budgetary solutions without unfairly manipulating taxpayers to comply with the levies or rue the consequences. We the taxpayers and parents deserve better! No more taxes!

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