Monday, April 30, 2018
Liberty school district must preserve its diversity
Liberty Township and Liberty Local Schools have a rich history of ethnic, racial and religious diversity that has benefited the community and the education programs of its resident students. Today as we review enrollment data, trends and projections, it is clear that Liberty schools are headed toward an imbalance of student demographics in both racial and ethnic diversity.
The Ohio General Assembly, the same legislative body that enacted open enrollment, also provides that a district can restrict the loss of native (resident) students to adjacent school districts through open enrollment when said transfer would adversely impact an appropriate racial balance. It recognizes that a balanced student population provides the best educational opportunities for the students and community.
Although it is easy to say this is an economic issue and the loss of students, especially under the current school funding formula deemed inadequate by the Ohio Supreme Court, affects the bottom line, the overwhelming economic benefit to the receiving district encourages the type of recruitment of some students and the less obvious discouragement both formal and informal of others. The current state of the funding formula has created a cannibalization of districts by others struggling to navigate in the same financial situation.
No district has explained this inequity better than the Boardman Local School District.
In Liberty, we have learned to do more with less and will continue to make those adjustments as we do every year, but our community deserves the value for its tax dollar and it is unfair to have dollars siphoned off by a system that is fundamentally unfair and has been ruled so and to date no corrective action has been taken.
The Ohio Department of Education has fervently supported districts in their efforts to maintain racial diversity in rulings such as in the Coitsville case where the Youngstown City Schools prevailed through several challenges to maintain that small number of students in the city school district to abate further eroding of the appropriate racial balance. Regarding our resolution, perhaps it was premature, perhaps reactive, and perhaps it was misleading to those who did not actually read the resolution in whole, but in actuality it was not required by the board to take action to restrict native students from leaving the district when it would affect the appropriate racial balance. Our Board has that authority through the Ohio Revised Code, no resolution required. However, the Liberty Board of Education chose to be transparent and to make the community aware that adjacent districts may be following the letter of the law, but not the spirit of the law when they take affirmative steps to recruit some students and not others to the detriment of a comprehensive inclusive education in another district.
The community members who financially support our school district, which have seen the benefit of diversity, and have discouraged division have expressed their concern with the effective disenfranchisement of their voice and their vote. The Liberty Local Schools will continue to study this issue and does not plan to take immediate action until the impact is studied further, but it does reserve the right to take action in accordance with the Ohio Revised Code that best supports the district and its students. Input from the community and taxpayers is always encouraged and welcome.
David Malone, Liberty
*David Malone is a Liberty alumni and a member of the Liberty Board of Education.
Fix school funding for Boardman in Columbus
This is in response to Ed Freisen’s letter of April 22 for the Boardman school levy.
For the first time in 37 years I will vote against a public school levy. While I have no children, I always thought that my support for local public schools was necessary, given the value I place on my own education.
But the present situation is flawed and unfair, and I will not be part of it.
Mr. Freisen correctly points out the political problem centered in Columbus. Well, I want this problem to be solved in Columbus
One way this can happen is for all low- to middle-income homeowners throughout Ohio to make school funding a campaign issue for politicians who need our votes. Until we make changes in leadership, they will keep pushing the tax burden to us.
As for the Boardman schools, they will still remain an excellent educational institution. Their tradition will not falter if this levy fails to pass.
And I cannot help but feel a bit offended that school administrators are trying to pass a 10-year levy. That is far too long a period of time to wait for taxpayer feedback to force accountability. It would take less time to change the political landscape in Columbus.
There are many of us in Boardman who have low to middle incomes, or who are on a fixed income and retired. This levy is too much of a burden. I suggest that they make the needed cuts, especially to the administrative staff, tighten their belts like the rest of us and stop manipulating our heartstrings with over-exaggerated and dire predictions about what will happen if this levy fails.
Then, all of us need to turn our attention to Columbus.
Youngstowners, vote ‘yes’ to protect drinking water
On April 24, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that the Youngstown Drinking Water Protection issue be placed on the ballot. If you voted early, and do not receive a supplemental ballot in the mail, call the board of elections and request that one be sent to you.
I am well aware that this issue has been on the ballot before. What many of my Youngstown friends don’t understand is that half a million dollars has been spent by PACS and special interests to deter us from protecting our water. This in itself should raise concerns.
Why would anyone fight against our right to clean water? Water is a human right – we can’t live without it, but there are those who have no qualms about destroying our most precious natural resource for more wealth. They use our fears against us. They appeal to our desire for jobs and our feelings of economic uncertainty; this in turn causes many us to vote against our own best interests. Do not fall prey to this.
It is true that many citizens struggle financially, but voting against protecting the water will not eliminate the struggle, or provide more jobs. It will only put our children’s lives at risk. Be proactive and say “yes” to the right to protect our drinking water now and in the future.
Don’t believe the hype from big corporations and big money. Vote in the best interests of our children. Vote to protect the water.
Let’s be farsighted and develop Youngstown into an environmentally progressive city that attracts those who understand the importance of protecting what is necessary for life – food and water.
Also, keep in mind that it is no coincidence that the most polluted areas are located where the population is poor, African American or other minorities. Speak truth to power – this is a human rights issue and a race issue. Be proactive and say “yes” to the right to protect our drinking water.
Kill bill once and for all
Oh, no! Not again! Say it isn’t so; the Community Bill of Rights has bullied its way back on the May ballot. When is enough, enough?
Don’t these supporters know that the people of Youngstown are not interested in their smoke and mirror manifesto? Have they no shame? I would not want my face to be seen in public, but some who support this charade have no problem sticking their face in front of a TV camera.
How many signatures does it take to put back on the ballot? Are there that many foolish people in Youngstown? I really hope not. Voters, this is costing you money, so vote this thing down and hopefully deliver a final blow to this movement.
Let’s send a strong message to take your Bill of Rights and get out of Dodge.