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Response to Westerville Action Group Postcards and Letter

In postcards mailed out during the week of October 26,  Westerville Action Group states:
 
Card #4:
"Please join me in wecoming our new Executive Director of Secondary Curriculum and Instruction, Mr. Stephen D. Dackin.  Mr. Dackin replaces Todd Meyer who has been reassigned as Principal of the new Central High School.  Mr. Dackin was hired effective September 2, 2003.  He comes to us with a BA from Ohio Northern University and a MS from the University of Dayton.  His contract is a One-Year Limited. 
Salary $93,349/year"
 
Mr. Wike once again fails to provide a clear picture regarding the hiring of  Mr. Dackin - why he was hired, his qualifications, and his responsibilities.  Here is the district response:
 

Reprinted courtesy of the Westerville News & Public Opinion/SNP

©Copyright Suburban News Publications, Columbus, Ohio, 2003

Originally published October 22, 2003

 

It was absolutely necessary to replace Todd Meyer as Executive Director of Secondary Curriculum and Instruction because the No. 1 issue for the school district is the new 10th Grade Graduation Test to be first administered in 2005 and required for the Class of 2007.  In addition, new state academic standards are currently being implemented for all grades requiring an alignment of curriculum, courses of study, and locally developed assessments.

 

The Executive Director of Secondary Curriculum & Instruction (Grades 6-12) is responsible for the supervision of seven (7) schools, 21 administrators, 492 teachers, and 7,768 students.  Some of the other duties include: coordination with curriculum specialists; supervision of the High School Course of Study Handbook; oversight of Career & Technical Education program; purchase of Middle and High School textbooks, supplies, and materials; and resolving middle school and high school student/parent issues.

 

To cut the position on an interim basis would stop progress in all these areas, as well as the supervision of seven schools and their personnel, as there is no one in Central Administration to assume the duties.

 

Westerville Schools was fortunate to employ a very highly qualified person who has 25 years experience, including 12 years as a high school principal, and who, most recently, worked in the Ohio Department of Education and was responsible for regional school improvement services.

 

Read more Central Ohio community news at www.SNPonline.com

 

For more information:

Ohio Graduation Tests ~ Frequently Asked Questions 

 
 
 
Card #3:
"School Board Demands
22% Property Tax Increase
Threatens Parents with Pay-to-Play
and Class Size Increase!
What's Next?  School Income Tax?"
 
In an earlier letter sent to district residents, Mr. Wike stated that the levy would bring about a "20.0% property tax increase"                                                                          

 

The district responded as follows:

True, the proposed levy does amount to a 20% increase in the tax that goes to the school district.   This is not a 20% increase in your total property tax, but only the portion that goes to the Westerville City School district.  The tax rate for the operating levy has not increased since 1991.  During the same time period, 1,750 students have been added to the district.  The Westerville City School District has a long history of asking for additional funds only when absolutely needed.

 

Taxpayers demand that the School Board and Administration be fiscally responsible.  As revenues have fallen off sharply and growth has occurred in the district leading to a serious budget deficit, the School Board made the decision to place a school levy on the ballot to leave it up to the voters to decide whether to increase revenues or cut the quality of the education currently provided.  $5.7 million were already cut from the budget after the failure of the May 2003 school levy.
 
FACT:  As a result of the May levy defeat, pay-to-play fees increased and class sizes increased. 
 
REALITY:  If this school levy fails, pay-to-play fees will increase further and class sizes will increase further, and there will be many other undesirable cuts in order to balance the budget.  These are not threats.  This is reality.
 
As for a School Income Tax:  Many in the community have pleaded with the School Board to think 'out-of-the-box' regarding school funding.  An income tax is one way to alleviate the burden on homeowners.  Some surrounding school districts, in addition to property tax, also use an income tax to fund their schools (Reynoldsburg and Canal Winchester).  Will this happen in our district?  Not without voter approval
 
Additional information:
On October 8, a forum on Ohio School Funding was held at Genoa Middle School.  Copies of the forum are available for viewing at the Westerville Public Library and can be seen on WOCC TV-3.  Information from the forums is located on this website under School Funding.
 
Card #2:
"CORRECTION
In earlier materials distributed to the community, I indicated that the Westerville City School District was rated "efficient".  That was in error.  The proper term for their rating is "effective".  I apologize for the confusion.  Efficient, effective, it's still only 82%."
 
Mr. Wike fails to provide any explanation of the ratings system.  He also fails to mention that "effective" is the second highest rating a district can receive and is not generally considered something of which to be ashamed.  For more information:

 

Check out the following article which appeared in the Westerville News & Public Opinion:   "State: District is 'effective'"

 

For more information on Local Reports and Ratings from the Ohio Department of Education, visit website address http://www.ode.state.oh.us/reportcard/.


Card #1:
"CORRECTION
In earlier materials distributed to the community, I indicated that our school administrators got 5% raises and our college bound students need remedial courses to qualify for college level work.  I was in error, the actual raises were 5.5%.  I apologize for my inaccuracy."

Here is the information that was supplied after Mr. Wike's first letter: 
                
The Superintendent and Treasurer, after a performance review for the 2001-2002 school year, were given a 3.5% cost-of-living raise and 2% merit increase effective 8/1/02.   All administrator (including the Superintendent and Treasurer) salaries were frozen at the 2002-2003 salary levels for the 2003-2004 school year beginning August 1, 2003.

Here is further information on Superintendent salaries:

Superintendent Salary Comparisons

 

Another WAG Misleading Statement:

"32% of college-bound Westerville School District graduates require remedial courses to qualify for college level classes."

Here is the information that was supplied after Mr. Wike's first letter:

For the class of 2000 (the most recent information available from the Ohio Board of Regents), Westerville had 432 graduates attend Ohio 2- and 4-year public colleges, the second highest number of 16 school districts in Franklin County.  The percentage of students (32%), needing remedial math or English, ranked seventh out of 16 Franklin County districts.  The upper and lower ends of the Franklin County Range and the state average are included below for comparison.

§         Upper Arlington      22%                                        

§         Groveport              66%

 

§         State Average         36%

§         Westerville             32%

 

Here are some additional facts to note:

  • The table that lists these statistics is from the Ohio Board of Regents and follows below.
  • There is no current system to track ALL graduates after High School. In 2000 (the year of this report), the Ohio Board of Regents only collected remediation data from students who enrolled in 38 state-supported Colleges & Universities - not from ALL students.
  • Students who enroll in Out-of-State or Private Ohio Colleges and Universities are NOT included in these figures. The estimate is 20-25% of graduates enroll in these institutions. As these institutions will generally be more selective, remediation statistics are skewed without their inclusion.
  • Careful analysis of the statistics in the Remediation Table shows us that Westerville compares very favorably with other school districts in Franklin County. In fact, for students who graduated in 2000, with core HS curriculum, who enrolled in a State of Ohio Public 4-year College or University, only 7% required either Math or English remediation.

remediationtable.jpg

Response to Westerville Action Group Letter

At the end of September, targeted voters in the Westerville School District received a mailing from the Westerville Action Group, which included a 2-page letter from Terry L. Wike, Treasurer.  This letter was full of misinformation.  Listed below are the false or misleading statements from the letter, followed by the accurate information.

 

 

1.      "20.0% property tax increase"                                                                          

 

True, the proposed levy does amount to a 20% increase in the tax that goes to the school district.   This is not a 20% increase in your total property tax, but only the portion that goes to the Westerville City School district.  The tax rate for the operating levy has not increased since 1991.  During the same time period, 1,750 students have been added to the district.  The Westerville City School District has a long history of asking for additional funds only when absolutely needed.

 

 

2.      "The May Levy attempt was for 8 mills, just over $52 million."                     

 

The 8 mill operating levy would have raised a total revenue over 3 years of $51.1 million.

 

 

3.      "The school administrations own projected use of funds contained a line item totaling over $15 million for Retirement Benefits.  That represents nearly 30% of the monies asked..."           

 

The Westerville City Schools Board of Education has a legally required State retirement contribution for over 1,700 employees.  The projected total cost over four years, including an adjustment for inflation, is $10.1 million.

 

 

4.      "school system rated 'efficient'"

                                                           

The current WCS district rating is Effective.

 

The following are excerpts from the article titled "State: District is 'effective'"

Reprinted courtesy of the Westerville News & Public Opinion/SNP

©Copyright Suburban News Publications, Columbus, Ohio, 2003

Originally published August 13, 2003

The district met 18 of 22 state indicators under federal regulations, which include testing administrated to English as a Second Language students and students with learning deficiencies.

If those student populations were excluded from the tests as they were last year, the district would have met 20 of 22 indicators -- just one shy of the "excellent" rating district leaders have targeted. Superintendent George Tombaugh says he wants Westerville to become the state's largest "excellent" district.

 

For more information on Local Reports and Ratings from the Ohio Department of Education, visit website address http://www.ode.state.oh.us/reportcard/.


 

5.      "We pay among the highest average teacher salaries in the country..."

 

For the 2002-2003 school year, Westervilles beginning teacher salary ranks 4th out of 16 school districts in Franklin County; maximum teacher salary ranks 10th; and average teacher salary ranks 3rd (for more information, visit http://www.ohea.org/documents/Teacher%20Salaries%202002-2003.pdf). Thus, further analysis shows that Westerville has highly experienced teachers that are paid salaries at the top of the current salary schedules because of their years of experience.  This is one of the strengths of our district.  The education our students receive does not suffer due to poorly paid, inexperienced teachers.

 

 

6.      "...many of our High School Seniors can't pass a 9th  grade reading proficiency test."          

 

The Class of 2003 produced 928 graduates; 1 (ONE) did not pass the 9th grade reading proficiency test.

 

 

7.      "Our school administration gets 5% + raises..."                                 

 

The Superintendent and Treasurer, after a performance review for the 2001-2002 school year, were given a 3.5% cost-of-living raise and 2% merit increase effective 8/1/02.   All administrator (including the Superintendent and Treasurer) salaries were frozen at the 2002-2003 salary levels for the 2003-2004 school year beginning August 1, 2003.

 

 

8.      "...our college bound students need remedial courses to qualify for college level class work."     

 

For the class of 2000 (the most recent information available from the Ohio Board of Regents), Westerville had 432 graduates attend Ohio 2- and 4-year public colleges, the second highest number of 16 school districts in Franklin County.  The percentage of students (32%), needing remedial math or English, ranked seventh out of 16 Franklin County districts.  The upper and lower ends of the Franklin County Range and the state average are included below for comparison.

 

§         Upper Arlington      22%                                        

§         Groveport              66%

 

§         State Average         36%

§         Westerville             32%

Westerville Voters On Target for Education