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Letter: Senior Citizens Can't Afford School Levy

Have a response? Add it to the comments section or send a Letter to the Editor to Lori.Switaj@patch.com

To the Editor:

If this (Avon Lake School) levy passes, 40 percent of all seniors living in their homes will find it impossible to pay the extra dollar amount on their property tax.

At least 40 percent or more of seniors have lived in Avon Lake at least 30 years and have supported levies up to this point.

Recommendations:

1)  Cut programs, cut salaries for all administrative staff; cut busing

   * Cut 2 sport programs:  It costs the swim team $7,426.00 to rent an indoor pool.

  * It costs the hockey team $7,697.00 to rent ice time.

2) Cut the following salaries:

    Superintendent $117,500.00

    Treasurer $87,000.00

    High School Principal $116,125

    Eliminate two Asst. principals for H.S.

    1. $83,635.00-Asst. principal

    2. $76,792.00-Asst. principal

3) Learwood Principal  $111,374.00

    Learwood Asst. Principal  $88,196

    Troy Principal $93,650.00

    Eastview Principal $93,851.00

    Redwood Principal $89,875.00

    Erieview Principal $85,103.00

    Westview Principal $93,851.00

    Athletic Director      $102,169.00

    Administrative Asst.  $56,853.00

    Secretary $46,883.00

    Secretary $27,865.00

    Transportation Supervisor $60,526.00

All of the above salaries come to a total of: $1,354,685.00

Cut all of the above 10 percent - Since teachers are not taking raises, then the above need to cut their wages.

Dan LaVigne

Avon Lake

Laurie September 27, 2012 at 02:37 PM
It's not just seniors who can't afford the levy. I make 1/3 of what I made 4 years ago. I am happy to be employed and like my job, but ALSD can't continue to squeeze blood from a stone. I am all about offering a good eduction for our kids but these needless levies are ridiculous. Embarassing that whereas I have had to cut my personal budget to pay my already high property taxes, the school district in unwilling and unable to do so. Also, what is with this paramedic levy that funds EVERYTHING BUT PARAMEDICS? VOTE THESE LEVIES DOWN!!! We don't need to become another Bay Village ...
ALsupporter September 27, 2012 at 05:41 PM
Needless levy? $1.3 million savings from cutting salaries is nice, but not enough. Check out the facts: http://www.avonlakeschoollevy.com/home Click on the tab "Emergency Levy Information". The school district has cut and will have cut more if the levy does not pass. But then the community might not be happy about the effect those cuts have on the schools' rating and ultimately the community as a whole. It's not just busing and sports that will go, but a large number of teachers. And with those teachers, the subjects they teach, anything and everything that is not mandated by the state: AP classes, dual credit classes, art, music, almost every elective you and I had the opportunity to take. Students will end up in study hall several periods a day - maybe not a horrible thing, but not the way to develop a well rounded, educated young adult. If the schools suffer, ultimately so does the community.
Ann Marie Stetler September 27, 2012 at 06:06 PM
Laurie - what planet are you from? you cite that the paramedic levy funds everything but the paramedics. Except that you forgot to say that your statement was not true, and would be against the law. Every single penny collected for the paramedic levy MUST be spent on the paramedic program. I think where you became confused, is when the Mayor said if the levy fails - the city would have to fund the entire fire department out of the general fund, thus the money for all the other programs funded by the general fund would be gone, the paramedics would get that money, and the other programs would be cut. Maybe you just can't afford to live here anymore? Im not sure. What I am sure of is that Avon Lake provides one of the best paramedic services in Northeast Ohio and does it for less money than all of our surrounding communities. That is why I will support this levy & the school levy. Sure the extra tax is gonna be a burden for my family financially, but the the excellent schools and City services are well worth it. Now If I made 1/3 less than I did four years ago - I may be in a position to move, rather than try to bring the community down with me. Thanks for your input.
David Kos September 27, 2012 at 06:12 PM
Laurie, I cannot speak to school levy, however with regards to the EMS levy, every penny raised by the paramedic levy goes to the fire department. However, should the EMS levy fail it will blow an approximate 1.6 million dollar hole in the general fund. The 1.6 million dollar loss of revenue will likely result in the losses detailed by the Mayor as well as other losses of city services (leaf, branch and snow removal etc). Please visit www.paramediclevy.com to get detailed and accurate information on this issue. You are also welcomed to call me at 930-7737 or any member of City Council if would like to discuss the matter. David Kos Avon Lake City Council Ward 4
MZ September 27, 2012 at 07:55 PM
"What I am sure of is that Avon Lake provides one of the best paramedic services in Northeast Ohio and does it for less money than all of our surrounding communities. That is why I will support this levy & the school levy." If I am reading this correctly, having the best paramedic services and doing it for less money also means you will vote for the school levy? Does the performance and operating costs of one department mean they are all run well, or just that department?
Ann Marie Stetler September 27, 2012 at 08:13 PM
MZ - Honestly I do not know much about the schools - I am single and have no children. But with all the hype I read about the Fire Department I got pretty upset and was unwilling to vote yes on the first levy. After a little research I found out people were purposefully trying to fail this levy with nonsense arguments that frankly were not true. I feel ashamed that it worked on me and I voted no! So in all honesty I guess I assumed what is happening at the school is the same. People are just making stuff up to try to make the school look bad. So I'm gonna vote yes on that levy too. The state cuts are pretty hard to argue. I understand that the state did not lower the amount we pay for state taxes, they just kept it to balance their budget - now it's on our backs to fix and I happen to believe it's worth fixing. That was a fair question though.
Dan LaVigne September 27, 2012 at 08:31 PM
When you take 10% of the salaries that up to $1,354,585.00 is a savings of $135,485.00. Next cut programs that are the scared cow in this town. Sport programs, first the swim team and then the hockey team. Probably a few other teams that you could cut. Cutting the two will save $15,123.00. Every dollar counts to try and lower the percent of the levy.Teachers and Non Teachers assistances have not had a raise since 2009. Did the school board need to upgrade all the driveways and turn arounds at the schools. If I remember right that cost $24 million dollars. Does a salary of $102,169.00 seem reasonable in tough times like this. Do we really need two (2) Asst. Principals at the hight school.
AvonLaker1234 September 27, 2012 at 08:46 PM
Wow Dan...you're brilliant. You found a whopping ~$150k in cuts...now after the State screwed us (it wasn't the school staff!) you'll need to find $6-7mm more in cuts...keep going - you'll cut through the bone soon and then it will take decade for the schools to recover and likely longer for property values too!
Michelle Braun September 28, 2012 at 01:35 AM
Go avonlaker1234, I couldn't have said it better myself!
Kristen September 28, 2012 at 05:42 PM
I feel very strongly about not cutting busing or sports ...that's the safest way to transport our children to and from school and sports keep kids out of trouble...maybe make those two sports cost a little more than the others but cutting them won't save that much money and will punish the children. No one wants to have to pay more taxes but if we want to have top rated schools we have to pay for them.
George Z September 28, 2012 at 09:50 PM
Those are pretty high salaries. I assume they include healthcare & pensions. Their was a article here from the mayor about a week ago on here that IF the levy failed -- XYZ would have to be cut. I thought that was funded from the pending levy. If sounds as if the levy fails those other "non essential" items will get cut (versus being funded from the levy). I was also confused too. Most seem blindly willing to vote for this. When is enough? The mayor seems to have made a decision to say "I am not cutting from the paramedics and would cut XYZ instead". Please do so. High Taxes make a community less attractive. After all you folks HAD TO HAVE to stadium and the bus garage and now we really need something fairly important - it's just too expensive. At what point does it make sense not to live in other communities because we are the "high cost provider" (ie Bay Village?)
AL Levy Educated October 02, 2012 at 11:38 AM
All i can say is EDUCATE yourself as much as possible on the levy and funding. The stadium and bus garage are not from Avon Lake City School District's general funding for education. Those were provided by grants. When a school district receives money for a specific thing through a grant that money CANNOT be used for anything else. Again, please educate yourself on the funding issues at hand. I myself was unaware of how the funding was provided and directed to be used for specific causes. IT's pretty astounding and sad when you look at the loss in revenue. GenOne was a 5.1 million loss in revenue. If they had not had to turn off a turbine the Schools would not have to put on this levy. Please attend a meeting with Mr. Scott before you decide "yes" or "no".
ALHomeowner October 14, 2012 at 11:46 AM
I say we need to support this levy. The alternative is to turn our excellent school district into a below average school district. The cuts described by the senior citizen here barely put a dent into the budget gap. Even if you eliminated all of the positions identified in this letter we would still have a budget shortfall of over $6 million (and no admistrators for our school district!). The next thing to cut would be teachers, and classes and services and that would be devastating to the education that the children of our community receive. Please get educated. Read the materials that describe why this levy is needed. I took an hour and read them this morning and will be voting FOR this levy.
Glen Heitkamp October 14, 2012 at 01:02 PM
If a person does not give their full name in the comment section then assume the comment has been "planted" or that person is too embarressed to stand behind their opinion. I support the levy but you have to admit that past board and state officials failed by promising too much many years ago and side stepping the issues to protect seniors and long term residents from unfair burdens due to population growth.
Kim L October 14, 2012 at 02:17 PM
actually a lot of people quit using their full name because of other family members could be harassed by their spouses comments (Judith)
Kristi October 20, 2012 at 04:19 PM
All I know is that it seems like the school board is always asking for more money. I have always voted in support of every single school levy since I've lived in AL (8 years). If memory serves me, every levy has passed, but now they're asking for a 9.04 mill? I have to wonder if the money is being spent as wisely as it should be.
ALsupporter October 20, 2012 at 04:50 PM
Kristi, The purpose of this levy is to make up a shortage caused by the loss of funding from the state. Our governor doesn't want to raise taxes, so he took funds away from the cities who now have to replace those funds by, you guessed it, raising taxes. In order for ALCS to keep operating at their current level, offering the same programs, the levy is needed. The millage is so large because the deficit will continue to increase over the next few years. By asking for a large millage now, the district will not have to come back in a few years and ask again for more. Please check out in information on the levy committee's website. It's in one of my earlier comments above.
Chris October 20, 2012 at 05:09 PM
I would really like to see some detailed accountability measures worked into this levy. I want our education system and teachers to be competitively funded but I would also like to see it understood that this is not a handout for schools back to normal conditions. Expansion of AP classes/elective does not automatically mean better education. Intelligent targeting of valuable education for the future takes a board that is willing to look forward and set achievable goals. It may be helpful if we have a more comprehensive plan going forward attached to this levy. I personally would feel better about voting for this levy if I was not "threatened" by what is "at risk"... and more engaged in how this levy will help stop the bleeding AND improve education. More money for less than the status quo: unacceptable.
ALsupporter October 20, 2012 at 10:47 PM
Chris, I don't really understand what kind of accountability measures you want. The state report card was just published, youl can see how well the district is doing there. The district and its employees hold themselves to a pretty high standard, as evidenced by the report card, percentage of students who go on to higher education, amount of scholarship money awarded, number of times ALHS has been ranked nationally, etc. The board is continually looking forward, ALHS was one of the first to offer dual credit courses. No one is threatening anything, it is the reality of the situation. The district is not bleeding money. The state cut funding and that money has to be replaced or programs will have to be eliminated. Again, it is all on the website, including cost cutting measures put in place by the district.
Chris October 20, 2012 at 11:56 PM
ALsupporter, I will try to clarify my earlier comment. First, as far as accountability measures are concerned: 1. I agree that our district does a great job, and I am in no way disputing that. And what you say is correct. As far as accountability, I am not looking for any more report cards or balanced score cards aimed at teaching standards. What I am looking for is some assurance that we don't have another situation like this in 2-3 more years or even 5 years down the road. I still do (even if you do not) feel as though this campaign is focused on what will be "at risk" rather than focusing on what will be the measurable outcomes. It may be subtle, but when you ask residents to hand over an extra 1,000.00 apiece I think you are accountable to THEM... not a scorecard, or a state measure, but to the immediate, surrounding community. 2. As you state, "The district and its employees hold themselves to a pretty high standard." - We hope and trust, but verification can take many forms. Finally, I will stay away from such terms as "bleeding money" because it makes no progress. One person's waste is another's necessity; and I think reasonable people can disagree on what is a waste of dollars and what could help future students. That is why I think there is room for accountability measures. B/C the levy was first thought to be 6 mills, but now 9.04 mills. I would not mind finding a middle ground and approving additional funds in 2 years: it is set up as a go/no go levy.
ALsupporter October 21, 2012 at 01:36 AM
Again, we are in this situation because THE STATE CUT FUNDING. As long as that doesn't happen again in 2-3 or 5 years, we should not be in this situation again. The board worked long and hard to come up with a millage amount that would cover costs now and in the foreseeable future. You may not mind being asked again for another levy in a few years, but you would be in the minority on that matter. If this levy is not approved, the deficit gap will grow bigger quickly - a new, smaller levy on a later ballot will not be enough to cover the shortfall. And again, this is not about threats, this is about what money the district has and what they must provide vs what they offer now. Just like individuals, when your budget is cut your "needs" outweigh your "wants". I just reused your term "bleeding", sorry if that wasn't your intended usage, although it is the common one. PLEASE GO TO THE LEVY CAMPAIGN'S WEBSITE - I think you'll find many of your concerns addressed.
MZ October 21, 2012 at 01:57 AM
What if the state or Feds cut again? Mighty big assumption isn't it? Perhaps we should do a better job of controlling spending and managing our budget. Novel idea no?
ALsupporter October 21, 2012 at 12:04 PM
Please go to the website - all the numbers are laid out there. I supposed the state could cut again, although I'm not sure it is possible for it to be quite as drastic, they can't cut us back to $0. And I think the only federal monies we get are grants, but I'm not sure. Spending controls and budget management systems put in place by the district are presented in an easy to understand slide show on the levy campaign's website. All the details you desire can be found there, please take the time to visit the website. Specifics and numbers were compiled for the public in order to present all the information available. Also, someone much more well versed in school finance did the number crunching, so the details there will be much more specific and accurate than anything I can offer.
Chris October 21, 2012 at 02:01 PM
ALsupporter, Please do not assume no one has gone to the website. You keep saying that like its the solution to the problem and you are the only one who knows what's posted. I appreciate your passion.
ALsupporter October 21, 2012 at 05:05 PM
It is not a solution to the problem, it is the way for people to get information that is correct and complete and easy to understand. I keep saying to go to the website because comments continue to be made about the district wasting money and increasing costs. I'm assuming that these comments are coming from a lack of knowledge as to what is causing the real lack of funds - a cut in revenue to the schools. Additionally, commenters accuse the schools of not having done anything to reduce costs or keep budgets in check, which is not true. All of this is explained on the website. You'll notice that I am posting to go to the website in response to these types of comments. So, if you have explored the website and understand all of this, I apologize for redirecting you there, I guess you can just ignore that part of my posts from now on.
Tim Maloney November 03, 2012 at 04:23 PM
The problem with the levy website and other information put out by the levy committee is that some of the information is either misleading or nonspecific. One of the prime arguments for the levy is that AL property values are declining, which will reduce income. The fact is that Ohio House Bill 920 requires that school levies provide constant revenues irrespective of changes in real estate values. What is true is that Utilities personal property taxes (GenON) have been significantly reduced due to changes in the law and requested and approved revaluation. It is also true that state funding has been significantly reduced. My problem with the levy is its size. Some of the revenue reductions listed by the levy committee are not specific and overstate the facts. Is a levy needed? Absolutely! But, I'm not at all convinced that it needs to be over 9 mills. Another consideration is the fact that union negotiations with the teachers' union will be taking place this coming spring. The teachers have been great in agreeing to compensation cuts to help get through the current rough patch, but it is clear that some changes are needed in the contract to reflect the realities of today's world. It doesn't make sense to pass a levy of this size until more is known about what the future holds.
Victor Mooney November 03, 2012 at 08:40 PM
Current Salary + Benefits is on an UNSUSTAINABLE Curve! Placing blame on the state is disengenuous and misleading---get the facts, you won`t get them from the "Levy Website" --go to The Buckeye Institure --they have just posted a new study on this very subject---You will find them to be unbiased and straightforward. The newest Policy Brief by the Buckeye Institute shows that state spending on education has far outpaced inflation for years while the total compensation packages of school district employees have been on a glide path to almost uniformly unsustainable levels. In many cases the median salary of teachers within a district far exceeds the median household income in the surrounding area and leads to a situation where the overall compensation consumes the vast majority of districts' revenues. In some cases, over 100 percent of projected revenues over a five-year time period go to nothing but compensation, meaning that there would not be revenue to pay for maintenance, utilities, technology expenses or anything else that facilitates a strong learning environment. It`s not too late---get educated about this issue!

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