This morning's Dispatch featured a letter from former School Board member Wayne Jenkins supporting the passing of the tax increase.
Here's Mr. Jenkins' comments:
Olentangy Local School District has a combined 8.72-mill property-tax levy and bond issue on the ballot on March 4. I write in support of this issue. The last time Olentangy passed a levy, we were told it would provide funding for three years of operations. It instead has provided for four. Olentangy continues to be one of the fastest-growing districts in Ohio, and there's a reason for that. Olentangy is providing top-quality education at a lower cost than the other districts in our comparison group and even below the state average for all districts.Are the OLSD schools perfect? Absolutely not.
Olentangy added more than 1,200 students again in 2007, and yet our expenditure per pupil was $8,507. The state average is $9,586. The average of our comparison group, including Buckeye Valley, Big Walnut, Westerville, New Albany, Delaware and other school districts, is $10,424. This means Olentangy is spending nearly $2,000 less per pupil and yet providing the high-quality education that has earned the district the highest marks on the state's report card and provided tremendous improvement in academics, as measured by things like standardized test scores, Advanced Placement and honors curriculum, graduation and college-attendance rates, National Merit scholars and the like. This has been done with conscientious cost-cutting and prudent planning, and if you want to read about the millions of dollars the district has saved and other details of the upcoming issue, I urge you to visit www.olentangyforkids.org and see for yourself.
Whenever there is a levy on the ballot, people trot out all the usual allegations of teachers and administrators who are too numerous and overpaid. They allege the pay raises are too generous and the number of staff too numerous. However, if we're getting the top-quality educational experience Olentangy provides at a per-pupil cost that is substantially less than all the surrounding school systems and well below the state average, then that's the bottom line. The argument ends there.
We have come so far here in Olentangy, and we have so much to be proud of in our schools. Failure of the March 4 issue would erase many of our gains and would dramatically change, for the worse, the overall educational experience our children receive.
The district has exceeded expectations and has been a good steward of tax dollars. It deserves our support. Our children deserve our support. I ask district voters to join me in voting yes on March 4.
I've also not really appreciated the Kill The Puppy approach taken by school administration and board should the levy not pass.
I would rather see a vision for continued improvement with our schools, drastically improved services for kids at risk, and a total review of a busing system that seems confusing and inefficient at best.
Nonetheless, supporting the levy and bond issue is the right thing to do for our kids and I'll encourage others to support the proposal on March 4th.