All it took was one guy from our No Lakota Levy group to show just the slightest inclination to break away from the main group before the district fluffed their wings and assumed that an opening was available to sneak on a school levy in November. This news came on the heels of Lakota’s new superintendent announcement of Karen Mantia. As I listen to Mantia and her priorities I can’t help but wonder why her primary focus is on our children’s retirement.
She has a reputation supposedly of thinking outside the box, but most of what she’s said so far sounds rather typical. How does she know that retirement will even be an option for the children of tomorrow? With all the life extension methods that are up and coming in science, retirement could be pushed to over 100 years old by then. People may live to well over 100 maybe even 150 years old. Retirement is a baby boomer idea that is quickly proving unrealistic. People just aren’t dying at 70 any more like they used to. So that seems like a strange priority. I would think that if she’s so well-educated, she’d be aware of these scientific advances. But she’s new, maybe she was just nervous and said the first thing that came to her mind.
It looks however that she is a double-dipper. Click here to watch a special report done by Channel 9 on this very issue. She retired from Sycamore in July 31, 2006 – likely after having 30 years of service. If she was 55 when she retried, her retirement is 66% of her salary. If she was making $100K when she retired, she will be bringing in $231K and that’s not counting the other benefits that are undoubtedly in her contract. If that’s the case, that’s a major issue with me, as a tax payer I’m paying for her retirement package, indirectly, but the money still came from somewhere, and now she is being paid by Lakota $165,000 per year, which is more than the last superintendent that I thought was paid too much. Lakota also spent 50K to find her, and she was just up the road. It doesn’t make sense to me.
As to the article in the Pulse Journal where the Pro Levy people exploded in exhilaration that Mark Sennet showed signs of defecting. Read that article here:
‘No Lakota’ group split on next levy
Some would OK ‘conservative’ levy in November; others don’t want any levy.
Staff Writer 11:32 AM Thursday, June 16, 2011
LIBERTY TWP. — Members of the No Lakota group are in disagreement about whether they would support a levy if Lakota puts one on the ballot.
West Chester Twp. resident Mark Sennet spoke to the board of education Monday, saying the No Lakota group would support a “conservative” levy in 2012 if the board would bypass the election this November.
However, No Lakota member Rich Hoffman, who has typically spoken on behalf of the group, said no discussion had occurred at a meeting about supporting a levy, and he was holding fast to his stance on never supporting a levy.
Hoffman said there may be a split in the group, but he thinks the 50-and-older crowd will stand with him.
Sennet said Lakota officials have made “a valiant effort to try to work and control spending,” but people still need time to recover from the economic crisis. He said he and several developers would be on the board’s side if it waited for November 2012.
“We acknowledge that there were changes made,” he said. “The businesses had to make changes. The citizens had to make changes, and we were glad to see the union and teachers and board agreed to a pay freeze. But if the levy were to pass, then I guess that would be good for the community.”
Board member Ray Murray said he was pleased the business community is recognizing the district’s transparency and how it is listening to the community.
“There are going to be people who are not going to ever say yes to anything, and there’s nothing you can do about it,” he said. “We’ve got to generate more revenue. We can’t survive on a 2005 budget.”
Former For Lakota levy chairwoman Sandy Wheatley said the board and district representatives have been mending fences with those in opposition since the last election.
“Everyone has kind of stepped up to the plate to do their part,” she said. “Now, with all those pieces in place — because this is the only way Ohio has left us in terms of ways to fund schools — I think the community will see this as now it is time for us to put the last piece together by doing our part to support the tax issue. … Perhaps the residents now will be better critical thinkers around if what they are hearing is accurate information.”
Board president Joan Powell said the board will meet for a work session at the end of the month to study an updated five-year forecast and discuss options.
Mark and some of the other developers in our group have always been about trying to reduce the rates of tax on the properties they are holding that aren’t making any money in a tough economy. Mark just wants to get through a tough year and he’ll probably support a levy. I’ve always known that defection of a few of these guys was inevitable. They were welcome to ride along as long was we all fought for a common cause. We have many supporters of many different degrees of belief.
Why would I support a levy when I can see in the light of day that labor costs are the number one problem at Lakota, and the teacher’s unions are the primary culprits that drove up those costs? Why would I think that a silly contract agreement that freezes actual step increases is enough? That’s only a three-year band-aid. Heck, three years ago I remember the teachers union in 2008 threatening a strike demanding higher wages. That wasn’t that long ago and I remember it vividly. When the union did that, I decided that public sector unions had no place in any tax payer organization. So there is no reason to even discuss a levy when so much money at the top is used on union activity. Unions drive up the labor costs not just for a couple of exceptional employees, but for everyone! There are no controls over how much a teacher can make. They are free to get a degree which immediately drives up their salary regardless of whether or not their degree actually contributes to a child’s education, because I don’t think it does. Unions just cost too much, so while they are in place, and I don’t want my money being scrapped off the top by them, why would I support them? If the union was out-of-the-way and the community could see the actual cost of what education costs, then I’d be more inclined to support a levy. I already pay a lot in taxes each year, so it’s not like people who don’t want more taxes on their property don’t support their schools and the kids that go to them. People like me don’t support public unions.
If that is a radical position, too bad, but it’s the facts. People like Mr. Murry are trying to justify why the school board has not been acting as a management protection, because they can’t. They are just figureheads. Lakota will attempt another levy because they have a new superintendent, they think our No Lakota Group is split, and they don’t know how to do anything else. Like Ray says, “We’ve got to generate more revenue. We can’t survive on a 2005 budget.” I’d say, “Why not?”
$10K per child is too high for poor performance, and the United States is not in first place in the world education market, and Mrs. Mantia’s Global Program won’t do anything to help. It’s just another way of dressing up what kids are already supposed to be learning in school.
But the state is cutting funding. The federal government is cutting money too! Hey, folks, get used to it. The gravy train the unions used with all the free money that was lost in bureaucratic nonsense is gone, and the expectation is that local communities are going to cover the difference. No, we won’t be. That’s simply not going to happen.
What’s going to happen is that schools are going to have to cut back their real costs, their wages, or they will become extinct. Property owners are not going to cover the cost of the outrageous expectations the unions have negotiated for themselves. Unions took advantage of government, as they always do, of the fact that nobody had any real skin in the game. When state and federal money is coming, it was easy to divide up the spoils, and they did. As a group, the teachers unions got greedy. Now that is coming to an end as states try to balance their budgets. And property owners do have skin in the game……their property!
So if Lakota chooses to put a levy on the ballot this November, or even in 2012, without cutting the wasted cost in excessive wages schools are enduring, then the No Lakota Group will be there to fight them.
During the last levy attempt of 2010 we held back. I personally had a lot more to throw out, but for the sake of the community, I held back a lot. If Lakota elects to go after the tax payers again with another levy before the teachers union reduces the wages for their top wage earners by 30%, or while superintendents like Karen Manita draws retirement from Sycamore where she retired at exactly 55 years old, then turned around and took another job so she could double-dip, then quit that district to come to Lakota, get a 20K raise then stand in front of everyone and tell the residents of the district is “for the kids.”
Hiding behind kids, exploiting the hard work of property owners to create lucrative jobs for themselves does not necessitate a levy request until the run-away costs are controlled, and if that means getting rid of the union, fine. If that means the union takes a pay cut, but stays put as an organization, fine. If S.B.5 gives school boards the ability to dramatically cut their labor costs, then fine. But it is not acceptable to ask for more money from the tax payer to cover the cost of lost state and federal revenue. We are not picking up the bill when the unions took too much, and they did in 2008. It’s time for them to give back, or move along so we can hire cheaper teachers, that will still keep Lakota one of the best schools in the state. Because failure, of any kind, is not an option.