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To The Editor:

      Frankly, I'm confused.

      In his October 22 letter to the editor, Ron Urbano wrote concerning the failure of last spring's Westerville Schools operating levy, "I have spoken to students and heard firsthand that they see and feel no difference from one year to another."  I am just wondering how many students he could have possibly talked to if all said they have experienced no changes from last year.

      As a sophomore at Westerville North, my friends and I have both seen and felt a number of changes from last year. First, I am a member of the marching band. The cost for me to participate this year has increased to $425 (and unlike the Letters page references to Mr. Wike, my parents are not rich). One of my good friends is also on the swim team, and she said last year she paid a $32 athletic fee to swim, not including the extra costs for a suit and warm-ups. This year she is required to pay $117 in athletic fees alone.

      Not only have after-school activities and sports been influenced by last spring's levy defeat, but academics have been affected, too. Two of my classes this year have 30 or more students, and there are no empty desks left in either room. One of my teachers said she teaches a class where students had to sit on top of the classroom bookcases for the few first weeks of school because all of the available desks were being used. Quite a few differences, if you ask me.

      These current problems, unfortunately, cannot compare with the catastrophic changes many students and teachers will face if the operating levy does not pass again this time. Students have been told no school-sponsored sports or extra-curricular activities will be offered next year, and even activities that are not school-sponsored will not be held in the buildings (as they are now), because the schools will be closed at the end of the curricular day to save on utility and custodial costs. In addition, all of my classes will be overcrowded next year, since even more teachers will be laid off (and those retiring will not be replaced) due to the lack of operating funds.

      The worst possible outcome from this levy failure, however, is that the number of periods in the high school day will have to be reduced from six to five (not including lunch), which means students will only be able to take basic classes required for graduation, without any elective courses.  For me and for thousands of other students in the Westerville school district, this cutback will mean no room for band, drama, photography, art, or journalism classes, all of which I hoped to be able to schedule as electives during my junior and senior years.

      Are you sure you're not "voting for a substandard education system," Mr. Urbano? It certainly appears that way to those of us students who will indeed be directly affected by the failure of the current school district operating levy.  Please reconsider your priorities and vote "yes" for Issue 16!

 

Alissa Ortman

Westerville North High School

Westerville Voters On Target for Education