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Poland board decides to rescind August levy



Published: Tue, May 17, 2011 @ 12:06 a.m.

By Robert Guttersohn

rguttersohn@vindy.com

POLAND

The Poland Board of Education, along with Superintendent Robert Zorn, unanimously agreed at a work session Monday to rescind the 4.9-mill emergency levy in August’s special election.

Formal action will be taken by the board when it meets Monday at Union Elementary, 30 Riverside Drive.

Poland voters earlier this month voted down the five-year emergency levy that would have generated $1.85 million a year. It would have cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $150 a year.

Fifty-seven percent voted against the tax increase.

The board previously had voted in April to add the emergency levy to a special August ballot if it failed in the May primary.

The change of heart caused school board member Robert Shovlin to question the rest of the members. He had been the lone vote against the 4.9-mill increase, instead favoring the 3.9-mill levy voters saw last November.

“First you raised the amount and now you want to pull it off?” Shovlin said, expressing frustration. “What changed?”

The board also discussed putting the levy up to vote again in March 2012.

Board members spent the majority of the meeting discussing future cuts to both academics and extracurricular programs.

Some of the programs that could be cut are clubs and offseason conditioning for the football and basketball teams. For the May 23 meeting, the board requested that both the athletic director, Brian Banfield, and the band director, Nick Olesko, present alternative ways to fund travel costs.

The band, for example, has a travel allotment of $6,000 per year, according to district Treasurer Donald Stanovcak.

The school board claimed the cuts will give the community the schools for which they voted.

“We have to produce a school system with the money we have,” board member David Bennett said.

Elinor Zedaker, school board president, expressed frustration toward the employees who voted against the levy.

“It’s like smacking your mother in the face,” Zedaker said.


Comments

1bgreene(138 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

"....like smacking your mother in the face" and "....produce a school system with the money we have." are you kidding me?
As a former school board member I feel compelled to comment.
Our Poland School Distict was in great financial condition several years ago...BEFORE certain members of the current board entered into a $3,000,000 lease-purchase agreement with a local bank to build a new stadium and smacked the taxpayers, employees, and most importantly the kids in their faces and "provided" for a school system with the reduced funds that were now available....a district devoid of teacher- aides, tutors, bus service, art, phys-ed, foreign language classes, electives, and a loss of many qualified teachers.
Yes folks, contrary to what many want you to believe, donations did not build the stadium. The district must make payments on a "mortgage" to a local institution which is taking hundreds of thousands of dollars away each year from the budget. Coupled with cuts in state aid, the district is now in a financial dilema.
Yet nobody wants to talk about how there was a $1.9 million dollar surplus in a health and wefare fund at the end of December 2007 that was moved to the general fund in early 2008...no one seems to want to tell us where those funds were spent.
Certain board members couldn't wait to go ahead with a stadium project without regard for how the debt could be serviced or to make certain that there were adequate "rainy-day" monies for future unexpected/emergency expenses.
Now they are doing us a favor by pulling the emergency levy from the ballot...finally realizing that the taxpayers of the community have had enough...yet they gotta take a few shots by blaming the community for not providing enough "yes votes" and singling out the teachers. C'mon man!!!
Rumor has it that the 2 board members quoted above are not going to seek re-election in the November, 2011, election...they've had enough. I, for one, do not think that it does the community or district much good to saddle some new people with the task of making the hard decisions. Time for Mrs Zedaker and Mr. Bennett to do the right thing....file for re-election and stick around to clean up the mess you helped to create....after all, who would know better how bad things really are...and who better to take the heat and responsibility?

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2RealTruth(111 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

Where have you been? I've been posting about this very issue for weeks. Many of us, myself included, were under the impression that the stadium was built by donations. When I found out this wasn't true and that the school had robbed Peter to pay Paul, I started explaining to people where the money really came from.

I totally agree with you. But, as so often happens, once people put things in motion, they retreat.

Thank you for speaking up.

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3poland21(96 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

Mr Greene,

I would have to say that it is a good thing you are no longer on the school board if you think that a $262,000 annual loan payment is the sole reason that Poland Schools need money. I wonder why Canfield needs money? I must have missed the new stadium that they built.

Stop politicking and fueling unsubstantiated claims regarding the school budget. The district has faced MILLIONS in cuts from the state since December 2007 and no matter how you look at it, major cuts are coming with the decision to not place the levy on the ballot this year.

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

I would like to defend the Poland teachers who did not vote for the levy. After all, they know that:
(1) the students and parents will be punished long before a fiscal emergency would pry concessions out of the teacher's union,
(2) the fantastic wage increases the last 3 years will stay put no matter what,
(3) only the younger teachers will be "thrown under the bus" by the draconian BOE and union contract,
(4) it really isn't "all about the kids," &
(5) the BOE can be counted on to maintain their attitude of stupidity/arrogance/cluelessness - and weather the storm of complaints even though "everyone and his brother" can see that it's the wages, raises, perks and bennies that caused the levy to fail.

You can count on the BOE to maintain its "mad" posture - sniveling, crying, & condemning the "heartless" public for its clear message that "business-as-usual" just isn't good enough anymore. Also, watch for the BOE to have a change of heart and "reluctantly" decide to put the levy back on in November.

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5bgreene(138 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

Dear Poland21,
I think that if you do the research that you will find the "mortgage payment" on the stadium is more than the number you quoted....closer to $352,000 per year (source: Auditor State of Ohio)extending to the year 2027....let's see, $350,000 x 18 years = $6,300,000 total to be taken from both current and future budgets.

Maybe the expense is not all of the reason for the budgetary shortfall but it sure did't help the overall condition...if we are short $1.8 million per year (4.9 millage x approx. $380,000 per mill) then $350,000 represents 21% of the district's needs. Tell me a 21% cut wouldn't hurt any budget.

I really don't care what you or anybody else thinks. I am definitely not "politicking" as you call it cuz I am out of the picture. They beat me fair and square in the election and couldn't wait to placate the desires of the folks that just had to have a new palace on Rt. 170.... for a district with DECLINING enrollment numbers (and therefore even LESS state money in the future) without regard for the effect upon the overall future well-being of the district. What's next? Open Enrollment?

Like I said the 2 members quoted should "man and woman up" and stick around to help fix the mess theyn helped to create.


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6bgreene(138 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

my error, did it too fast in my head

$352,000 is a little more than 19% of $1.8 million. Still a lot of money.

BTW I got my Ohio Auditor #'s from the auditor's web site.

Annual lease/purchase payments:

736,406
- 383,721 First Place Bank annual pmts =

$352,685 due to Farmers Bank each year until 2027 payoff

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7UNCOMMONSENSE(360 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

Stands to reason that the administrators and teachers should also share in the cuts. Which board member will have the balls to suggest that wages and benefits reflect the current revenue??

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8bgreene(138 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

Not gonna happen....at least until 2013...the board ratified a new contract with staff on March 28th (prior to SB5 taking effect) to keep the current contract in place for the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 school years....no increases in pay and no change in health care/retirement plan benefits.
They are locked into the contracts so there are no savings to be had in those areas.

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9poland21(96 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

Mr Greene, I have found the auditor's 2010 report and will review this evening. The reality is though, whatever was done in the past cannot be rectified now. We still need to support the schools.

Right now, the district is short the $1.875 million dollars the levy would have generated. The possible cuts on the table - pay to play, all day kindergarten, etc - these fall way short of that amount. What do you see as the potential action to balance the budget?

Also, there is a 2yr step freeze in the new contract, so there actually are long term savings to be had, as the future step raise costs will be less. Is this a correct assumption? I realize it is not likely an astounding amount of money, but every little bit helps...

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10paulparks(235 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

poland21,

We can all see that the unbelievable "spending spree" of the past few years with salary increases, etc. has really messed up the school district. I've got a great idea: HAVE THE TEACHERS PAY MORE TOWARD THEIR LAVISH HEALTH AND RETIREMENT BENEFITS! You'll say, "it can't be done because of the union contract," but I say what's wrong with the BOE ADMITTING TO THE PUBLIC AND THE UNION THAT THEY MADE A MISTAKE AND ASKING THE BENEVOLENT UNION TO VOLUNTARILY SURRENDER A % OF THEIR PERKS AND BENNIES TO SAVE THE DISTRICT. After all, it's just for the kids, isn't it?... You'll say, "in the real world that will never happen," while I say - there is a mechanism to "force" the wonderful union to dribble a few concessions to the public - FISCAL EMERGENCY. I don't know if Poland will make it there - that depends on the battle of wills between the BOE and the taxpayers (who will be punished all the way along with the students). BTW, I saw a sign in front of Boardman Middle School last weekend that said, "We Love Our Teachers." Shouldn't the sign say, "We Love the Taxpayers?" There exists no more a "backslapping" self-congratulatory group than teachers. (And no more a selfish, self-centered organization than the teacher's union.)

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11UNCOMMONSENSE(360 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

paulparks...well said.

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12leoziggy(6 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

Mrs.Zedaker...since your daughter in law is a Poland teacher did she vote for the levy. Did she slap you in the face ??? Why don't you talk about all the nepotism within the school system including your daughter in law..

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13BigJim2234(57 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

Just go open enrollment and all your problems are solved. Then we will have more than 1 parent passing out flyers bad rapping the coach's because most of their kids will be on the bench?

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14poland21(96 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

paulparks,

SB5 has already addressed the benefits issue. I believe all state employees will be paying 15%. I am fairly certain that SB5 addresses benefit contributions as well.

Your anger is misplaced. Teachers should not be punished because the state is no longer passing on our tax dollars to the schools. Why not ask the state what it is doing with your money?

I do not at all agree with you that teachers are overpaid, but clearly you have a bias against them. It is really sad that teachers have become the target of the "no one deserves more than me" club.

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15meagain(80 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

I hesitate to respond because rarely do people this impassioned want to even see the other side of the coin, but here goes anyway.

As for teacher salaries and benefits- do the math. A 10% wage reduction across the board doesn’t even get close to making up the deficient funding for districts like Poland and Canfield. It chips away, but the funding still falls way short.

As for the stadium- you’re apt to have a mix of opinions with any building project. I guess the way I look at it is this. Poland, Canfield and Boardman are in a catch 22 of sorts. Damned if they do damned if they don’t. Infrastructure will from time to time require renovations. These districts will NEVER see enough money from the state to even begin to pay for larger renovations, repairs or new construction. Yet they still need to maintain buildings, and yes every once in awhile this includes a stadium project. How are they expected to pay for such undertakings? Look around you. Districts across the area are flooded with new construction including sports complexes. Drive across the state. Been to Ravenna lately? There are districts with beautiful facilities. How do you think those were paid for? You as tax payers paid for those facilities. Yet the time comes when our own districts are in need of repair and we have no recourse but to use loans to spread out the payment to manageable chunks. We will never see enough funds from the state for such undertakings. Do we just allow our infrastructure to crumble around us? Do we allow our dollars go to other districts so their students can have up to date facilities then begrudge those in charge for finding a way to give our students the same? As for the assumption that the stadium was paid for through donation – I vaguely recall a sign in front of the project that said financed through (insert bank name here). I could be wrong. It was some time ago, but at any rate last I checked financed doesn’t mean donated.

I don’t know, I guess I just see things differently. In spite of the way schools are funded and the increased public funding to charter schools I want my kids to have the best (or at least what kids in other districts and across Ohio get) and I’m willing to pay for it. When it’s all said and done, if things continue down this path, our districts will be a shell of their former selves and you can blame who ever you want, but I lay the blame squarely on Columbus, the unequal and illegal funding of public schools and public dollars going to fund charter schools.

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16AnotherAverageCitizen(1174 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

Well if they can't touch teachers contract , there are how many nonunion employees that can start paying more for benifits. Then when the teachers contract is up is will look good for the BOE to show how they and other school employees took a pay cut and increase in benifits sharing.

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17paulparks(235 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

poland21

"no one deserves more than me club..." Don't you mean "no one deserves as much as me - club?" --- you know - the teachers' club.

Funny you should mention "club" because that is what the school board/teacher's union has become; an exclusive club that can:
(1) get over 10% in raises the last 3 years during a recession,
(2) maintain a spotless reputation while "sticking it" to the taxpayers to pay for their sky-high health and retirement benefits, &
(3) hurt "the ones they say they love;" the kids - with reductions in services and personnel - rather than "sharing the pain" with the private sector, i.e. keeping everyone on but taking a little less of the gargantuan taxpayers' pie.

I thought teachers taught children how to share in elementary school... Guess the teachers need a lesson in it too!

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18ytown1(392 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

Meagain,

I have one question to ask, but first an observation, why all of that talk when we all know that the average budgets are set at 80-85% going toward salaries and benefits, and increasing every year.

Leaving only 15-20% to pay for utilities and patches to the existing buildings, grounds and other infrastructure. No rainy days around here?

Now for the question, where do you think the cuts should come from now? Let me give you a hint, 80-85%. It is that simple. Remember it is for the kids.

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19devildog(96 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

Meagain.....very well said! Some people are consumed with negativity toward teachers, they have obviously had some bad experiences. Fact of the matter is that teachers, police and firemen pay taxes too!!! Its not the professional educators fault that Ohio does not fund schools correctl
And BTW paulfarts....last week was National Teacher Appreciation Week I believe, perhaps that was the reason for the sign in front of Boardman. Perhaps if you weren't so angry with teachers, you might have learned a thing or two from one of them in your lifetime!!!.

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20BigJim2234(57 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

Hey Green. You lost and that monthly payment is for more than the stadium. Different renovations went on and are in the 300,000 payment. As far as the teachers are concerned. The ones that rip on them - 1 is a schoolboard member who collects unemployment and the other collects disability. All which cost the tax payers money!

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21uphillbattle(14 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

the teachers did not get a 10% pay raise, check your facts. as far as 85% of $ going to wages that is pretty normal for a place that doesn't produce a product. what else would it go to?

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22poland70(1 comment)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

By chance were any of you at the board meeting Monday?

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