I write a lot about education. Within the education reform movement, I receive a lot of information from very passionate people who are doing their best to address some of the issues involving education, and today I heard from a couple of them that find themselves defending the community of Lebanon from another tax increase.
Cyd Zimmerman was on the Darryl Parks show on Saturday April 9, 2011 because the scheduled debate between Mark North and Rick McPherson was forfeited by Mark North after proclaiming that “nobody listens to 700 WLW.” In short, he didn’t have the guts to go on the air and defend his actions in the district which prompted Cyd to step in and discuss North’s absence from the debate.
After that interview I received notes from Cyd and Sandy Trugrul about Lebanon and education issues in general, that they both spent a lot of time putting together. I thought those notes deserved to be listed in their entirety below.
A Note From Cyd Zimmerman: The woman on the Darryl Parks interview below.
It’s important to preface this conversation by laying the framework as to how I got here and why I’m so angry and frustrated.
So many that are staring down the barrel of another school levy have the same feeling coursing through their veins and are confused or unorganized in how to go about change. After all, Spring now means levy season. Not good.
Radio is a tough gig and it’s easy to lose your way. So much to say, and so little time, and that happened to me.
I had caught wind of yet another school levy mid January of this year. This was on the heels of a 5.41 mill emergency levy that was passed in November of 2010. It generates 4.2 million per year. I could not believe it. I had no clue who to talk to or where to begin so I attended my first ever board meeting that following Monday. It was just an announcement that they were deciding one of three amounts to choose from in my early understanding. Nevertheless, I was alone in a sea of empty chairs. There were a couple of others and I now know one of those people was Rick McPherson filming. I left as they were just finishing up and thought to myself…I’m screwed. Where are all the people? Where are the taxpayers? I was aware of the Lakota levy last November and the great deal of press it had gotten, having moved to Lebanon from West Chester. I Googled them and was pleased to see the site still up. I contacted them through the email and asked for help. The response was immediate. I had found Rich Hoffman’s site via the NolakotaLevy.com and the journey began. I found someone commenting on the site, speaking of the levy, and contacted her. I then met Rick McPherson who was looking for others and they gave him my email.
That’s all takes, but you can’t be thin-skinned or shy. That’s not a problem if you’re mad enough to demand some answers.
On to the bigger picture and where does the money go? I went to the Lebanon School site and it was pretty well layed out. Here’s the problem. 77.6% going just for wages and benefits. I would never begrudge the salary of a great teacher. They are pillars of the community. But where is the line in the sand?? Here is where SB5 would have made a huge difference. Don’t call it a pay freeze and continue step increases not to mention the other perks still in play. This has happened and you had no say. Contracts signed before the bill. We all know it. This is all about fiscal responsibility and accountability. I have to do it in my home and I expect the same from this entity.
Someone school me on why we pay for this supers $650.00 a month car allowance, family YMCA membership which on their site is $73.00 per month, cell phone (50 bucks a month), when he makes more than the Governor of Ohio?? More than the Lieutenant Governor, more than the Secretary of State, more than the Attorney General, on and on. It’s all on the web site.
I’m sorry, but that is borderline criminal in my book. And it’s NOT ok. And shouldn’t be with you either.
3.2% goes for supplies and materials. Hold on…3.4% is for other. What other? If it’s all about the children why is the “other” number higher? I still don’t have that answer…Do You?
I hear the phone calls have started for support of more sweaty cash. I’d like to get one of those calls. Hopefully it would not be a shallow conversation as was the one that ensued yesterday with Mr. North. He totally missed my side. Fine. He’s doing his job. Straddling the line between the unions and community must be brutal. Don’t say to me you have no intentions of having at the very least, an open Q&A or a town hall and then ask for millions. NO. Why? Because they can’t answer the tough questions on the spot. Oh sure, I can fill out the card and send it in. He said he has hundreds of cards. How much would the postage and cost be to them if I took them up on that offer? Small in the massive scope but this is the mindset I do not understand.
School bus drivers making over 16 bucks an hour? Really? Shrink wrapping the books at Little Miami because you have to be a certified librarian to hand them out? This is all just so bizarre.
This is the tip of the iceberg but some of the key points from emails I get. I understand. They ask the simplest questions. I know exactly where they come from. They are busy. It gets so deep, it will blow your mind. But I too have a life and if I had time to say on the radio what was on my mind, this touches the surface.
To those out there in our shoes…We hear you. Darryl spoke of the numerous emails last week asking him to pick your district. We never would be here without the help of those from neighboring districts, particularly Dan Varney and Rich Hoffman. These guys get it.
So reach out to us. We’re busy but you can email the lebanonschoolfacts site and we’ll respond. Keep the hate mail at bay. It won’t be tolerated and end up in spam. Our vision is clear and we won’t be bogged down with the naysayers. You had your time.
Note from Sandy:
I’ve been working to educate people on school funding and the effects of the “mandatory” school curriculum for over thirty years. The one and only reason I have stuck to this is because I believe that the demise of our country is at stake.
The schools, their funding, their administrators, their unions are the lowest level of government that “we the people” have any hope of effecting change. If we can’t make an impact at that level the Federal level is certainly hopeless. I have not wanted to give up on my country.
In my opinion, last night’s fiasco regarding the federal budget was a diversionary tactic for covering up other more serious issues taking place in the world. I feel sure of that. The media loved covering the situation. Another 7.++ earthquake in Japan hardly got noticed. I guess the four nuclear towers are “all better.” That’s off topic now too.
The school unions and leaders use the same tactics when going after the property owners for more money. Anyone that is against raising taxes “hates the children” and doesn’t support education. In their propaganda their job is the most important job in the country. No salary level is too high. I have heard teachers say that they should be paid at the level of doctors. Their mantra is that the future of our country depends on the great education that the children receive from the union teachers. Of course “the more it costs the better the outcomes.” Nothing could be further from the truth in that statement unless you consider the outcomes that they want to occur. These may be much different from what the average person believes should be happening.
We all notice that the cuts that the boards propose are always ones affect the children the most harshly. You have mentioned all of them quite precisely.
Many people are afraid to speak out regarding their opposition to a levy. They are afraid of retaliation to their children or to themselves. One parent told me that her child came home crying because she didn’t love him. She said, “where did you ever hear such a thing.” His answer, “My teacher said that if you weren’t voting for the levy you don’t love me.” He had heard his parent discussing that they couldn’t afford to vote for the levy. In other words, the teachers are polling the children. The teachers are working in the classroom against the parents; this for their own monetary gain. How repugnant is this?
When I checked on “who funds levies” through the years, it is always the same people with the same vested interests. In Lebanon it is highly touted and supported by LCNB. (Chip Bonny, a board member, now works for LCNB. He formerly worked for Huntington Bank. The district obtained over $1M from Huntington Bank last year to buy back the buses that they formerly turned over to Laidlaw.) (I was told by my banker that transaction was a totally irregular transaction and would not be tolerated by his bank. He also said that Bonny, no doubt, received a nice bonus for that business. It would have been the case at his bank.)
The postcard sent out by the Pro-Levy group lists Eric Meilstrup as the treasurer. He is an officer with LCNB. Steve Wilson, CEO of LCNB has served on the district finance committee and heads up the full page of endorsements listed in the local paper.
LCNB also owned (until this month) Dakin Insurance. Lebanon buys it’s insurance from Dakin.
Other special interest groups funding levies are developers, construction companies, architectural firms, lawyers and other business leaders. Small amounts are given by the teachers, who can look forward to nice raises every time a levy passes.
Over 85% of the budgets pays for salaries and benefits. Other salaries can be hidden in many areas of the financial states and could make that percentage go up.
Any cuts suggested are called “draconian” and “extreme.”
No cuts are acceptable to the schools, county, city, township, state or federal levels of government.
The costs listed to give the per pupil amount are only from the General Fund that is for the operation of the schools. They never list the huge debt owed for the costs pertaining to the buildings And other loans they get (buses, copy equipment, phones, etc.) Those projections go on for years and years into the future. Our great-grandchildren will still be paying off those debts. ironically the buildings and equipment will be considered obsolete or even trashed. By the time the final payments are made.
When they speak to the people they try to use terminology that most people don’t understand. (I call it educationese.) This way they speak “down” to you, as though you are a child. They are the “professional” and you are insignificant in the scheme of things. They are taught how to “handle” the public a part of their college curriculum. It is part of the “Training for Change Agents” text. They study how to change your beliefs and those of your children. How to change your values from Christian to Secular Humanism.
The fact is that last year the board hired at least two new administrators.
Krista Foley (from Piqua – Student Services and Mason, Kindergarten Supervisor.) She is listed as administrator of various student programs
at a salary of $95,626.
Bill Lautar, former student services director in Kettering (where he retired)
Director of Human Resources at $98,343. (double-dipper)
July 15, 2010, Western Star: Lautar said he is in the process of filling
other certified and classified positions before the next school year, including
a secretary for the transportation office, coaching and extracurricular positions and teaching positions in special education, language arts and science.”
Schools are divided in this totally ridiculous configuration.
Louisa Wright – Early Childhood, Principal, secretary, 17 teachers
Bowman – First and Second Grades, two principals, two secretaries,
Donovan – Third and Fourth Grades, two principals, two secretaries,
Berry – Fifth and Sixth Grades, two principals, 2 secretaries
Jr. H. S. – (Former H.S.) Seventh and Eighth Grades, two principals,
High School – Three principals, 1466 total students 9-12
The total enrollment is around 5,000. I see plenty of room for cuts.
There are several people listed in the salaries listed on the blog as receiving “Retirement Incentive” payments.
Many “Teacher Assistants” listed for our overworked teachers. Many substitutes listed. I am told they have a higher absentee rate than the students.
We pay the entire retirement costs for the administrators (pickup on the pickup), we pay the entire health benefits for North and other admin. I admit that I haven’t read all of the contracts. Mark North is given unlimited time off to attend meetings and to consult. (I can’t imagine him consulting at anything.) There are numerous meeting held all over the country and world. I am going to request who traveled where in the past five years. It won’t help this time around, but good to have on hand for the future. I assure you that the Lakota people travel all the time. There is a NSBA conference in San Francisco this weekend. Most of them go with their “significant other.” After all, the room is paid for.
All the issues discussed above are out of sheer frustration. It is obvious to anyone that cares to look, that there are many things wrong with how tax money is collected and spent. The people who grab this money from taxpayers are called by society as “trusted officials” or even “leaders.” But to those who look into things as they actually are, those trusted officials are just simple looters. These looters give the appearance that they are doing something beneficial for the community, but it’s all a smoke screen. What’s really going on is a lot of nothing and the tax payer is paying for things they don’t need to pay for.
Prior to Cyd’s interview on the radio Darryl spoke about the “non-essential” personnel in government. With that said, everyone in government that got a letter from the government on Friday April 8, 2011 stating that they are non-essential personnel shouldn’t be working in those positions, because they are wasting taxpayer money. It would also appear Mark North, superintendent of Lebanon is one of those “non essential” personnel. He didn’t have the guts to go on the radio today and debate the levy. He doesn’t know how to work with the community and answer questions. And he caves under the union pressure at the beginning of negotiations. So what good is he? He’s non-essential personnel and he could save the tax payers a lot of money if he wasn’t employed.
How many non-essential personnel is Lebanon employing if the superintendent isn’t doing anything? That’s the kind of question you have to ask before any levy should ever be put on a ballot. And the fact that the question wasn’t ask should insult every person in Lebanon that pays taxes.