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Poland residents grill officials about proposed levy



Published: Thu, September 27, 2012 @ 12:08 a.m.

By Ashley Luthern

aluthern@vindy.com

POLAND

Residents peppered school officials with questions Wednesday evening during a forum about the five-year, 5.9-mill emergency operating levy on the Nov. 6 general election ballot.

If approved, the levy is expected to generate $2,181,867 annually. It would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $180.68 annually.

Joel Roscoe of the Buckeye Association of School Administrators spent the first hour of the forum explaining school funding in Ohio and how it relates to Poland.

Poland has lost about $2.4 million in state funding since 2009, he said, and expenditures, such as diesel fuel and textbooks, keep increasing.

Poland “operates efficiently” and is “truly doing more with less,” he said.

Then the forum was opened to questions. One person asked how much of the new levy money would go to educational and building needs and how much would go to sports.

“The entire amount goes to our operating budget,” which is separate from the athletic budget, Treasurer Don Stanovcak said.

One person asked about teacher pay and benefits.

Board President Dr. Larry Dinopoulos said teachers are paying 5 percent of their health insurance costs and agreed to a wage and step freeze in their pay during the last negotiated contract, saving the district about $656,000 per year.

Interim Superintendent Don Dailey added that the average teacher’s salary in Poland is $44,269 annually, which is lower than the state average of about $51,000.

Some asked about enrollment. Dinopoulos said the board is watching the district’s numbers, which have declined from 2,498 students in 2002-03 school year to 2,178 this year.

“We haven’t lost enough enrollment to close a school,” Dinopoulos said. A feasibility study has put the district on track to close a school in five years by not replacing retiring teachers, and assuming enrollment continues to decline.

Perhaps the most common question was what happens after the levy vote. If the levy is approved, things still will not go back to the way they were before, board member Jim Lavorini said.

The district has a spending deficit of about $1.5 million, and if the levy generates about $2.2 million annually, then $1.5 million of the new levy will go to keep things as is. The remaining $700,000 of new levy money would help repeal some of the cuts, he said.

“But as expenses increase, that [$700,000] will shrink,” Lavorini said.

The board said the 5.9-mill levy should last four to five years. Voters last approved a new Poland school levy in 2003. That levy was for 6.9 mills.


Comments

1Knightcap(693 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

These property taxes are getting out of control everywhere. Why do people keep attacking the home owner. In Poland, property taxes will be going over $4,000.00 a year for some home owners. The average income in Poland $33,000 (WKBN). It's time to get off property taxes in Ohio and let people own their homes. The property tax on home owners is the least fairest. What happends when someone loses their job, gets ill or is on a fixed income? They still have to come up with the tax plus the increase you want to put on top of it. Vote NO. Do away with all property tax and go to an income tax, sales tax, fracking tax, internet sweepstakes cafe tax, adult entertainment (book stores,massage, topless joints) tax, lottery and casino profits. Back to Poland, what has the administration done to cutback on their expense. And paying 5% toward health-care is a joke. The average private sector employee is paying between 20 to 25% for their health-care. Some companies charge more if you smoke, overweight, high sugar, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.Vote No.

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2natureman(66 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

As a parent I would still like to know what will be restored if the levy does pass. You cannot expect me to continue to do pay to play and the heavy school fees and also vote for a levy. What about the cuts in the elementary? Those did not have to be made. How about some cuts in administration where the real money is? We need more specifics.

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3stewie(109 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

This just shows how arrogant these idiots are. None of the cuts are ever going to be reinstated with passage of the levy. They refuse to impose any cuts in administration or staff! They still don't get it! I'm on fixed income, tightened my belt as far as I can and I'm supposed to just pull an extra $180. more a year out of my butt! I want to see some legitimate cuts! Not just the ones designed to punish parents! I'm definitely voting NO!

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4breadman(1 comment)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

@ stewie/ I understand that you're on a fixed income. If you truly support your community you need to support this levy. It's not all about you. Once the schools fail so does the entire community. People like you need to move out of Poland. Try showing up at one of the forums to voice your concerns and not hide behind your keyboard coward.

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5UNCOMMONSENSE(360 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

@breadman...stewie and many other Poland residents already support their community to the tune of thousands of dollars in property taxes. Maybe the administrators and teachers should find another job outside of Poland if the residents say no more. The real cowards are the board members that will not standup for the taxpayer and say enough and negotiate reasonable contracts that they can afford.

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6BoardmanBranch(42 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

What was missing from last night's presentation were a few important details that have nothing to do with how schools are funded in Ohio. First, since 2002, the Poland schools have borrowed more than $11 million dollars that taxpayers must repay. Yearly, $750,000-$800,000 is spent repaying the principle and interest due on these lease-purchase agreements that were entered into without any taxpayer input. Check the auditor's detailed report. When asked about copays on insurance, the audience was told that the copay will go up to 10% in 2014! The teachers, we were told, have sacrificed enough because their salaries have been frozen for 1 year. Every time the board was asked about cost savings measures, the answer was it's only a savings of $40,000 or $50,000. And Dan Daily is a wonderful cheerleader, but when I read that he thinks this is a well run school district, I have to wonder. This district is $11,423,723 in debt. By the time this debt is repaid, more than $3,000,000 will have been spent on interest. Stop blaming school funding and stop expecting the taxpayer to carry the weight for decisions they had no input into. The Poland schools should not be in this position. And please stop saying that teacher's salaries are below the national average. The comparison should be to local districts, not national. Come on Mr. Daily--we're not stupid.

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7RealTruth(111 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

You're right on the money, BoardmanBranch!

We know how much debt we are in because of that stadium. We had no input. Academics should always trump sports in a SCHOOL.

And, the game is and always has been to compare. One district raises their wages because some other district gets more. Then that district raises their district up to at least match the other's wages, and so on and so on.

You're right. We are near Youngstown, Ohio. Wages should reflect that.

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8meagain(80 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

While you may have some facts your thinking is skewed. You hear what you want and refuse to hear anything else. There are MANY facts and figures you fail to hear because they don't fit your agenda. Like always I hope rational people would hear everything before they form their opinion and not just base it on the half truths you continually spew. That horse is dead. BTW I have one word for people like you - MOVE!

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9natureman(66 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

Why is it that whenever anyone disagrees with the status quo in Poland they are told to move? As evident in the past failures of the levy, people are fed up with the current administration of the schools. When did we ever have so many levy defeats? Something is wrong and people want answers. There have been so many problems at the high school level that i cannot begin to tell you. Parents are ignored when they complain and they don't forget. Perhaps we need to get back to showing some integrity and listening to the people you serve if you want to pass levies. Students should be our main concern and so should the academics. We have gone astray and someone needs to lead us back. Currently that is not being done in Poland.

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10meagain(80 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

Likewise we're allowed to disagree with you and want what's best for our kids. You're allowed to think something is wrong and allowed to take steps to resolve those issues. For each person who feels there is a problem there are plenty of us who feel our kids get a great, well rounded, excellent education. We also feel it and our teachers are worth paying for and don't mind the money that is being spent. My point is voting no on a levy doesn't solve the problems you feel exist. As for moving it's the age old if you think the grass is greener - go. It seldom is. I'm certainly allowed to make the suggestion. It's within my right.

As for comparisons, at what point were comparisons to national averages made? I heard plenty of local and state comparisons.

Really many of us are just tired of your same old complaints that hold little value when looked at rationally. Honestly this back and forth banter on a message board solves very little. Hopefully someone with common sense comes across you at a social setting and you're open minded enough to listen.

I know you'll vote no. You'll get what you deserve. Sadly my kids will get it right along with you. I guess I can always move. Right?

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11rickking123(288 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

For all those people who say that you should move if you are against the levy, well perhaps those in favor of the levy should move. Move to Cleveland Heights and see what high property taxes and high expenditures per student get you. And then maybe you'll see that the solution isn't to raise taxes after all.

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12RealTruth(111 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

Per State of Ohio: "In fiscal year 2008, the District entered into a $3,000,000 lease-purchase agreement with Farmers National Bank to finance the eventual construction of a new stadium. The sources of revenue to fund the principal and interest payments are derived from general operation revenues of the District."

I ask you: Four years is not that long ago. Now, we have an "emergency." Why do people want to shove this poor decision under the rug? Those funds could have bought alot of "diesel fuel and textbooks."

If that loan had been used for ACADEMICS instead of sports, the levy might have had a chance. But to expect taxpayers to pay for BAD CHOICES is just plain rude.

We will again vote no.

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13BoardmanBranch(42 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

I can only hope we do get what we deserve. We'd like a superintendent who doesn't borrow millions of dollars without giving the taxpayers who will pay the bill any input; we'd like a board that does its job, serving in an oversight capacity and vetoing such blatant spending; and, we'd like teachers and administrators who recognize that times have changed, and that they must be willing to be part of the solution to debt reduction. Instead taxpayers continue to pay the full share of administrator's retirement; it will be more than a year before insurance copays go up to a whopping 10 percent. I could give many other examples. And they want us to trust them with more money? Trust is earned. Make the hard decisions, and then come back to the taxpayer.

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14BoardmanBranch(42 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

The numbers for the teacher's salaries didn't make sense to me, so when I ran the numbers, I found that the average salary is closer to $57,000. Wondering how there could be such a discrepancy, I did the numbers including non-teaching staff (who make less money) and part-time staff. What a surprise. That's how the $44,000 figure was arrived at. Lying to the taxpayer again.

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