Levy supporter up for debate
This is in response to Dave Kenmir’s letter last week.
The Lancer Pride Committee is truly grateful for your input. We need to know why the public votes “NO” on the school levy. Without this information we are not able to dispel the myths and rumors that have infected the community.
Mr. Kenmir protested about the cuts in pay and benefits that many in the community have experienced and then suggested we do the same to the teachers in our school system. He felt I did not keep up with current events. Well Mr. Kenmir, here are the facts.
It is true that 77% of the school’s budget goes to pay for salaries and benefits and if you truly want to cut spending, the way to do it is by eliminating staff. But, did you know that according to a Dispatch article from 2008, the average salary for new teachers is between $33,000 to $40,000 in the central Ohio area. Lakewood’s starting salary is $31,402. The educational and certification requirements of a teacher are set forth by the state and are non-negotiable by the school system. The teachers’ union had also agreed to no pay increases in 2009. If you want quality teachers, you need to pay fair market value.
Do you want the children to be taught by unidentified individuals and fill-ins who are not qualified to teach? Individuals who can not offer continuity or innovative strategies to get the children to learn? How many parents sit by and assist their children with their nightly homework and really don’t know the answers?
Did you also know that in our surrounding communities like Granville, Licking Valley, Northfork, Heath and Newark, a range of 11-15 levies have passed over the last 21 years? Did you know that only 4 have passed for Lakewood? And the last levy in 2008 took 7 tries? The Lakewood school system is not asking for anything above and beyond what many other communities are being asked for. They only have to ask more frequently, because they don’t get what they need.
In response to cutting back on buses: Did you know that Lakewood Local schools covers 87 square miles of bus routes? Have you ever been out to the “Campus?” The Intermediate, Middle, High School and Jacksontown Elementary are surrounded by Corn fields (of which they do not own). There are no housing developments, apartment complexes or sidewalks. There may be a handful of houses that can be viewed from the area. The majority of the 2186 students (not 1500 that was stated last week) are not within walking distance. The 2008 district profile stated that 74% of the students required transportation. But the routes and bus stops will be changing next year due to the levy failure in the fall. Is one hour or more too long to be on a school bus?
I enjoyed the labeling of Lakewood Local as “Ivy League.” Has anyone been out to the facilities? The bleachers are not up to code (because they can’t afford to fix them); the wood and paint on the front wall of the Middle school is falling off; the band has worn the same uniforms for the past 22 years (the school does not buy the uniforms and the students do pay to use them). The Boosters have been saving for years to buy new “over-lays.” (Outer vest- like coverings), but they still don’t have enough to purchase them. We don’t have a rowing team or swimming, or tennis or lacrosse. Did you know that the athletic boosters, drama and band boosters pay for a lot of the expenditures of extracurricular activities?
The budget cutbacks and perhaps even the dissolution of the school system is not just a threat. It is a reality. If tax payers are tired of bearing the burden of their school systems, then they need to contact their state representatives or the Governor. The real funding changes NEED to come from the state level. Your local leadership IS working for a permanent change. However, the school system needs help from the community to help build a bridge to get us to real change, because unfortunately, these changes will not happen overnight. If we fail to provide for our community now, it will cost twice as much to dig ourselves back out of the hole.
I am sympathetic believe me! I don’t enjoy seeing half of my paycheck go to taxes and insurance. But I feel preserving the future of our community is worth it. But I also know I can not save the school by myself, let’s face it... the corn and the crickets, they don’t pay taxes!