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What about "No" do you not understand?
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"No" involves more than many people understand

     In response to the failed school levy in May 2003 and the appearance of yet another levy for the November 4, 2003 ballot, the question has been posed "What about 'No' do you not understand?"  To these individuals, I would like to ask a similar question: "What about 'No", school funding, and our district do you not understand?"
     The system of funding currently in place in the State of Ohio does not allow school districts to survive on a single levy vote.  House Bill 920 and "Phantom Revenue" put our districts into a position where we have to adjust manually our local funding through regular levies just to keep up with inflation and population change.  State funding cuts and the phasing out of the Personal Property Tax compound this problem.  As long as we operate under the current system, our community will be plagued by ballot frequency.  Voting "No" on a levy will not change this. 
     There is a common misconception that the district just needs to "tighten its belt" along with everyone else.  Our district has indeed tightened its belt and made adjustments even before $5.7 million in recent cuts.  Has this improved our district?  No.  We now have children who are not receiving the services they need.  We have potentially dangerous bussing situations.  We have children in overcrowded classes, overflowing from buildings where there is available space but not enough teachers.  We have placed extra financial burdens on families whose children are involved in extracurricular activities. We have lost 8 administrative positions - this in a district where our administrative expenses per pupil were already 17th out of the 18 central Ohio school districts.
     Another misconception is that our district has not provided us with the financial information necessary to justify this levy.  While this may have had an element of truth in May and was perhaps to some a justifiable reason to vote "No," it is no longer true.  Extensive financial information has been added to the district website since May.  For those who do not have internet access, information is also available at the Westerville Public Library, at public forums, and knowledgeable representatives are present at most school events and in every school.
     A "No" vote will not make our district better.  It will not change Ohio School Funding.  It will not improve education and will not produce a responsive, efficient, safe system for our children.  A "No" vote will most assuredly make our situation worse.  We will be able to meet fewer basic needs with fewer, overworked staff. 
     The way to improve our district and resolve issues is to vote "Yes" and then follow up by being involved citizens of this district, making sure the money is well spent.
     I urge residents of the Westerville City School District to become informed voters and vote "Yes" for the November Levy.  The information needed to justify this levy is available.  We need to open our eyes, see it, understand it, and comprehend what a "No" vote really means.
 
Betsy Binnig

Westerville Voters On Target for Education