Letters to the editor

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Teachers support Pickerington school levy

Being a teacher is one of the most rewarding careers we can think of. It allows us to lead children down paths that will mold and shape their futures. What makes our story unique, we feel, is the path we took to get here.

To highlight, we are first and foremost graduates of Pickerington Local Schools.  We took the same classes and in some instances were taught by the same teachers that instruct today.

Looking beyond high school and toward college, each of us knew that we wanted to be teachers. We recognized that Pickerington was a great district in which to learn and teach. Today, we are fortunate to be able to give back to the community in which we were raised by teaching Pickerington’s youth.

Because we believe in this school system, we also believe in and support the things that make it strong, and that includes the funding requests that go before the voters.

Issue 9 is a zero new taxes renewal levy.  It currently generates $7.15 million in revenue. This money goes directly toward instructional needs – needs that exist in every classroom in the district.

Passage of Issue 9 would allow us to continue the excellence we are used to providing students. If Issue 9 fails, Pickerington schools must prepare for a $3.5 million shortfall for the 2008-09 school year budget. This preparation may include cuts that will directly impact the effectiveness of how we teach.

Passage of this levy is vital to the ongoing success of both the schools and this community.

Please support Pickerington students by voting for Issue 9 on March 4!

Jennifer Rogers, Carrie Weber
Shannon Dormer, Whitney Risch
Teachers at Violet Elementary

Family backs Pickerington school levy

As parents of two students in the Pickerington Local School District, we are writing in support of Issue 9.

We moved to Pickerington four years ago. We chose this community for one primary reason – and that was the quality of the schools. With two children enrolled in Pickerington schools, we can unequivocally say that our decision has more than paid off. Our children are receiving a top-notch education in a public school system that exceeds our expectations.

One of our children is a seventh grade student. To say that he loves school is an understatement. Already looking ahead to next year, our son is frustrated that time will not permit him to take all of the classes and get involved in all of the extracurricular activities that he wants.

Case in point…our son is a member of the newly formed Junior Ohio Model United Nations (OMUN) team. This is the first year for this program to exist within the Pickerington schools. At the recent statewide competition, the Lakeview Junior High team excelled. It was runner-up in the talent competition, and its resolution placed in the top 30 of 113 resolutions submitted.

While we are admittedly thrilled with the accomplishments of the OMUN team, we are even more grateful for the quality education that both of our children experience. We know all too well what a great thing we have in the form of these schools.

But we also understand what will happen to extracurricular experiences such as this if the money is not available.

If Issue 9 fails and the district loses $7.15 million per year, experiences such as the Junior Ohio Model United Nations will cease to exist.

Issue 9 is a zero new taxes renewal levy.  This means our property taxes will not increase.

This makes sense to us. And we hope it makes sense to you. Please join us in voting for Issue 9 on March 4.The kids are counting on us.

Steven and Caryn Maggio
Pickerington

Pass the CW levy

I think that the Canal Winchester school levy should pass in the March 4 election.

The levy is to provide money for the whole school district. I think that we need the money to help pay for things that the schools need and to help keep the things they have intact.

If we do not pass the levy, every day things that students have come to expect and rely on will be taken away.

It will also make the things that people need to have a decent education change.

If this levy does not pass it will continue to greatly affect the students. Kids in the high school have already had their busing impacted and, if the levy doesn’t go, other things like an increase in the pay-to-play fees, will happen. They will have to cut teachers and staff. This means that class size increases and with higher student to teacher ratios it is more difficult for students to make a connection to a teacher and to learn in the same way.

I think that the levy should pass this March so that students’ lives aren’t impacted anymore than they have been already simply because we don’t want to pay higher taxes.

Megan Lenihan, CWHS senior
Canal Winchester

Investment in education is vital

Since I am a senior the Canal Winchester school levy does not affect me, but I have two younger brothers who will have to go through a slowly sinking school system.

They will not get the same kind of education that I did because there is no money to pay teachers to teach. This is a sad fact. I know that some people cannot afford to pay for a house, but I think that the loss of an education is more costly in the long run.

It is sad that people will not act until the last second when it would have benefited them more to act in the beginning. The levy started at 4.9 mills, a very low rate, then it went to 7.9, it failed, and now it is at 8.9 mills. We reap what we sow and since we didn’t invest in to education we pay for it by having to pay more just to be able to pay bills.

Without the levy, opportunities for special classes and programs, like performing arts and guitar, will go away and the next generation will be less well-rounded people.

Tim Williard, CWHS senior
Canal Winchester

Where’s the accountability?

In all the information released by the Canal Winchester school board and administration about the upcoming levy, the word "accountability" is missing.

Why is the district in a continuous improvement category as rated by the State Board of Education?

 

This is down from the previous effective rating, and just one step above the second from bottom academic watch rating for schools across the state. Why hasn’t the district met the state’s adequate yearly progress requirements for the last two years? Why can’t  the 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th graders meet the minimum state requirements in math skills? Where is the accountability?

It seems the emphasis is on getting more money for the district salary and benefits expenses which are projected to grow 45 percent in the next five years from $22.7 million to $33.7 million according to their plan. About 76 percent of the budget goes to salaries and expenses. The levy will increase a homeowner’s property taxes going to the district by 29 percent.

   

Instead of continually awarding 3% percent annual raises to the district teachers, staff and administration, (plus an additional 2 percent annual step increase for many of the teachers), the board should consider lesser or no increases until our economy turns around in order to balance the budget.   

Per an article referencing the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average teacher works 36.5 hours a week and makes $36.04 per hour based on weeks worked.  This is 36 percent more than the average for white collar workers and 11 percent more than the average for professional and technical workers.

Canal Winchester teachers have an average salary of about $35 per hour. The article also points out that unions have been very good at promoting the notion that teachers are underpaid but the evidence states otherwise.

One final comment. There is a gracious woman in our neighborhood who has been allowing little children to stand in her garage to protect them from cold and rain while waiting for the bus. Due to the change in the bus schedule, those children must now walk to another location unprotected from the weather and wait for their bus. The district did this to save $23,000 out of the $29 million budget.

 

That savings would be laughable if it wasn’t so obvious an attempt to pressure more parents to vote for the levy.

Roger Peacock
Canal Winchester

Vote "yes" for CW schools

I hope people who live in the Canal Winchester School District realize that having a good school system is essential for having a good community.  

No one likes to have their property taxes raised, including school board members, but what choice do we have if schools are not supported?  

Voters in the Canal Winchester Schools have approved 53 mills over the years, but the school board is only receiving 23 mills because when the district’s property values increase with more businesses and people in the district, everyone’s taxes are reduced. The school board is limited in how much money they collect beyond the first 10 mills. The costs keep going up but the limited revenue from taxes and from the state make it probable that every three or four years school districts are forced to ask their publics for more operating funds.

I work with students from various school districts in Franklin County who do not want to go to school. There are a relatively few students in the Canal Winchester Schools who have truancy issues. The main reason is because Canal Winchester has an abundance of quality teachers and other personnel who care about them and help provide incentives for students to want to learn. Students need reasons to attend other than it is the state law, and knowing if they don’t go to school they will go to court, and the magistrates will force them to go.

 

I have found in my many years as an educator that students who are involved in activities do better in school and are rarely or ever attendance problems. Good schools provide many different activities for students. Very seldom do you see a student who participates in band, choir, athletics, drama, FFA, Madrigals, or any other school activity drop out of school.  These activities help develop the discipline, poise, and toughness that it takes to do well in our society.

According to the National Center for School Engagement, it costs our government $800,000 per student more for a drop out than a student who graduates from high school in his/her lifetime of social services support. Good schools have fewer dropouts because they give students the attention they need to be successful. We need to be able to help students be successful in their lives. Please support the community and our schools by voting yes on March 4.

 

John Bender
Canal Winchester

Treasure CW schools

I write to affirm my support of the upcoming Canal Winchester school levy that will help our schools provide the best education for our children. As a long-time resident of Canal Winchester and a graduate of Canal Winchester High School, there are many things I treasure about our schools.

I treasure the teachers in our schools who day in and day out work to offer their best for the education of our children. I treasure having a school board made up of people willing to give of their time and energy to make what are often difficult decisions to achieve the greatest good for our children. I treasure the fact that I can contact our school administration and learn exactly how our money is spent so I can better understand the details of our school budget.

I treasure the fact that having a strong school system has made our community stronger. Most importantly, I treasure the fact that by supporting the upcoming levy, I can do my part to continue our community’s legacy of strong schools which work to develop our children into strong and capable adults. These children will soon take their place as full partners in our community’s life.

It is for this reason that I have come to see support of the upcoming school levy as not simply an opportunity to support my own children’s education, but also an opportunity to support the strengthening of our entire community. I urge others to join with me in this significant endeavor.

Mike Caswell
Canal Winchester


School funding method is unconstitutional

I read with much interest the recent (Feb. 25) letters from residents of Pickerington and Canal Winchester, about the need to vote in favor of approving the school levies that will be on the March 4 ballot.

This letter is also directed to the voting property owners within the Groveport Madison school district, and as one, I believe my opinion should be heard through this forum.

First, I would remind voters that the Ohio Supreme Court has ruled four times that reliance on the majority of school funding by residential property owners is unconstitutional.

Second, extra-curricular activities funding (not mandated by law), such as football, track, swimming, golf, bowling, drama, etc., are not required by law, and I should not have to pay for (including coaches and facilities), unless I choose to support a fund-raising activity, such as the 2007 Groveport Madison girls soccer team cruise-in.

Third, those parental/teacher levy/bond supporters who enjoy increased earnings every year (unlike myself) need to take a more active roll in fund-raising activities to reduce the need for their children’s extra-curricular needs, and help reduce the need for asking me (unemployed) to help fund the extra wants of their children through unfair, illegal discriminatory taxation.

It’s not about the kids. It’s about the school administrations’ having their collective heads in the sand. Think about it. Do something about it. Vote no!

Dennis L. Anderson
Columbus

Bicentennial kick off a success

On Feb. 13 at the Performing Arts Center of Pickerington High School Central, nearly 700 people shared in a memorable evening of history and entertainment.  

On behalf of the Violet Township Trustees and Bicentennial Celebration Commission, I want to express appreciation to all of those Bicentennial Committee members who, through their hard work and dedication, helped to make the evening a truly momentous occasion. A special thank you to those who made it possible to hold this event in the Pickerington Central auditorium: Eric Womack, Rick Knapp and the Pickerington Central theater production students who helped with the staging and production of the performance; Margaret Lawson and the students of the Theater Department of Pickerington High School North; to Mr. Sewell and the Wind and Percussion Band and to Mr. Long and the chorale both from Pickerington High School Central. Thank you to Mr. Lanam and the Jazz Band from Pickerington High School North for providing music for the reception prior to the program; and to Judy Riley and the food service staff at Pickerington Central for their catering   Thank you to Angela Frehault and Judy Willoughby from the Pickerington Post Office for volunteering to provide the first of four special postmark cancellation stamps and for hand canceling our commemorative postcards.

We were honored to have the National Anthem sung by Seth Foley, a graduate of Pickerington Central and a decorated veteran of the Iraq War. A special thank you also to the David Johnson Memorial Post #283 American Legion who presented the flag.

We were especially pleased to have so many dignitaries present to bring greetings and proclamations.  We were very fortunate to have Clark Donley from Sunny 95 and John Hammond as narrators, David Meyer and wonderful character actors John Cooper and Bob Davis who shared their talents. Thanks for attending, to the many former Violet Township trustees and clerks who helped build our community.

Last but not least a very special thank you to the 23 ladies that worked diligently for 11 months to create the Violet Township Bicentennial quilt. It is a masterpiece work of art.

The evening was filled with the spirit of the Violet Township community, an appreciation of our past and optimism toward our future. The participation of both of our high schools, township, city, and school officials, and people throughout the entire community made it a truly wonderful opening to our year-long celebration.

We look forward to the remaining bicentennial celebration events, which will be held throughout 2008 and we invite the community to continue to join in the celebration. For information call 614-382-5989 or go to www.violetbicentennial.com.

Terry Dunlap, chairman
Violet Township
Bicentennial Celebration Commission


It’s gut check time for CW

If you are on the ridge south of town and look to the north and west at the skyline of the village of Canal Winchester you are struck by the prominence of the churches and the school buildings. What is obvious is that for decades this community has put a great deal of emphasis on faith and education.

The Canal Winchester Local School District (CWLSD) spends about seven percent less per student than the Fairfield/Franklin county average while producing test scores that are competitive with some of the wealthier districts in Franklin County. The current operating levy passed in 2001 and collection started in 2002 and at the time the projection was that that levy would see the CWLSD through three years of operation.

It is February 2008 and the CWLSD has grown more than 20 percent. The assertion that this district has been frivolous with taxpayer funds is vapid.

There are those who continue to dream that the State of Ohio will produce money to resolve the "school funding crisis." The history, in other states, is that where these intra-government fights over school funding methods have occurred it has taken decades to resolve those disputes.

Where does Ohio get tax money? Why should people in Cadiz, Conneaut, or Coldwater have their tax money routed through some bureaucrat (and discounted in the process) in Columbus to pay for Canal Winchester students? Why should we surrender local control and accountability to some less than interested in success policy wonk whose job security depends on not resolving problems in education?

If you live in the CWLSD you have a direct stake in the quality of the schools. The value, present and future, of your home is directly tied to the success of the school system. That is a hard reality for many to accept. As expensive as keeping the schools properly funded is allwoing them to fail is geometrically more expensive.

For generations this community has placed an emphasis on education. Take a stroll around the hallways of the buildings and look at the pictures and read the accounts of students and teachers who have achieved excellence in academics and extracurricular activities.

It is gut check time as Coach Locke used to say and, as W. W. Hayes was fond of saying, it is time to "pay forward."

It is time for the adults to shoulder the responsibility carried by generations before us and see that the students of this district are afforded the same opportunities we were provided.


William S. Griffith
Canal Winchester

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