During the release and subsequent discussions about the Ohio Budget last year, the Kasich Administration made no apologies for the cuts they enacted that would adversely impact the budgets of local communities and school districts. We covered this situation on numerous occasions ourselves, and a simple search for news stories reveals the consistent disdain by Kasich appointees of the appeals of local communities. Here are some representative samples from the Columbus Dispatch:
The budget director Tim Keen [eliminated the $8 billion deficit] said schools already go to the ballot on a regular basis. ”To me, it’s not a definite state of affairs that districts must go to the ballot and pass levies . . . Perhaps districts should look at their operations and their costs. Perhaps they should avail themselves of some of the tools we are providing them to contain costs.”
“They need to become much more efficient,” Kasich said of local governments, which under his plan would see their funding slashed from $665 million this year to $339 million in 2013. Governments also would lose another $312 million in reimbursements for the vanquished state taxes on inventory, equipment and utilities. (March 16, 2011)
[Education czar Robert] Sommers said schools must learn to adjust to a tough budget… (March 23, 2011)
Gov. John Kasich has argued that voters shouldn’t need to give schools more money despite his plan to cut hundreds of million in education aid. ”Ohioans know that our taxes are too high and that tax dollars aren’t used as efficiently as they could be. The rate of levy failures is proof of this,” said Rob Nichols, the governor’s spokesman. (May 5, 2011)
The Ohio Secretary of State lists 113 school issues on the March 6 ballot statewide. While the majority of Kasich’s administration blindly follow his lead, one member of Team Kasich has dared to defy the administration’s stance on school levies.
This week State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Stan Heffner, professed his bold support for local levy requests during a press conference/webinar regarding Ohio’s waiver request for the No Child Left Behind Act. With the primary election just days away, it’s important to share this video message with the voters who will be deciding the financial fate of schools and educational fate of children and families across Ohio.
Listen to Stan Heffner’s explanation about the need to support local levy requests:
“…there’s no greater time for the communities’ need to give you those resources than there is now because these new challenges are going to require the help of those resources to help you bridge the gap and move on to the next system.“
ODE Superintendent Stan Heffner
I’ve personally been critical of Heffner over numerous decisions over the past year, but I recognize that not everyone has agreed with my perspective. In this case, it’s a question for us to debate, but instead one we need to pose to the residents of these school districts:
Who should voters believe?
The career politician who spent the majority of his adult life working in Washington D.C. before moving to Lehman Brothers?
Or the career educator who has dedicated his life to public education and now has the responsibility for trying to help Ohio’s public schools improve?
In central Ohio, John Kasich’s own Westerville City School district is in a fiercely contested battle to maintain services. For a full list of local ballot issues across the state, visit the Ohio Secretary of State website.