Field School District levy fails for fifth time in two years

By Kyle McDonald | Staff Writer Published:

Voters in the Field school district turned down a levy request Tuesday, making it the fifth failed attempt in two years.

The 5.5-mill levy was defeated by 202 votes -- with 1,861 votes against the levy and 1,659 votes in favor, according to complete but unofficial results from the Portage County Board of Elections.

The district hasn't approved new local funding since 1991.

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Had the levy passed, the Field Board of Education planned to begin patching some of the $1.5 million in cuts it has made in the past two years, including resuming busing for all students, reinstituting year-round art, music and physical education course offerings and reducing its pay-to-participate fee structure.

Board president Terry Kettering called the defeat a disappointment and said although the district was able to achieve an "Excellent with Distinction" rating by the state, it still can't achieve community backing.

"This is very disappointing," Kettering said. "We're a good school system and we're not getting the support to keep it a good school system."

Dave Heflinger, the new superintendent of Field schools, thanked the Field Levy Committee for its effort on the levy campaign and said it's time to focus on November.

"The levy committee did an incredible job with getting the story out there and I certainly appreciate all of the work and effort they put into this campaign," he said. "We will start working harder, trying to get the message out even better than we did this time and hope for a different result in November."

The board of education and administration must also look at what can be done to avoid sinking into a projected $1.5 million deficit in fiscal year 2015, according to calculations by its new treasurer, Todd Carpenter, which take into account the increased state funding the district is set to receive.

Heflinger said he "does not anticipate any new cuts between now and the end of August," which would affect the upcoming school year.

Kettering said he was unsure what cuts may come in the future, but he hopes they won't have to impact education any more.

"(Previously) we were looking at stuff that won't affect kids, and hopefully we can look at that stuff again," he said.

Contact this reporter at 330-298-1127 or kmcdonald@recordpub.com

Facebook: Kyle McDonald, Record-Courier

Twitter: @KyleMcDonald_RC

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  • Mr. Jelly,

    To agree to both your basic premises, I would have to modify them slightly:

    1)  All children are entitled to publicly or privately funded education.

    2)  Effective and efficient public schools are vital to a thriving community.

    I do not know who Ian is and happen to disagree with his statement in general.  However, I must share with you that after trying to work with the FLSD over the past two years and observing the lack of transparency and accountability, it makes me wonder what they're hiding.  I'm not saying they're hiding anything, but when someone is not forthcoming with answers to legitimate questions that have agreed are legitimate then it does make one wonder.

    You seem to dismiss ending pension pickups.  Pension pickups cost the district $60K to $90K annually.  Ending pension pickups would save the district this money every year.  Can we really afford to be making 24% annual pension contributions to all of our administrators' pensions?

    You have your opnion about outsourcing.  Maybe you have studied it extensively and know your opinion to be a fact, if yes, please share your research.  I will keep an opne mind about outsourcing.  Here is a 16 page study on outsourcing by Ohio districts http://heartland.org/sites/all/modules/custom/heartland_migration/files/pdfs/3698.pdf  

    Keep in mind FLSD has not seriously studied outsourcing any services.

    You take offense to my use of "private sector".  My statement was not at all condescending.  The truth is there are stark differences between the public secotr and private sector.  The private sector took a big hit in 2009/2010.  We have still not recovered from that hit. 

    I have attended Board meetings and publicly presented the same points I have put forth in this thread.  I plan to do this in the future.  My main point is why not even discuss the ideas.  Why is it not a good thing to at least look into these options.

     

  • Tom, one more demand from me before we debate your list of demands for the FLSD... 

    Please explain why your friend Ian is wrong in claiming that the goal of public edcuation is not to educate children but to preserve bureaucracy.

    Unless you do these things, I won't debate you (and neither should anyone else). 

  • Tom, if you would also replace the word "outsourcing" in future posts with "hiring unaccountable, low-paid, poorly-trained private employees to feed and transport our children", I'd greatly appreciate it. 

    Also, if you would refrain from acting condescendingly regarding my apparent lack of knowledge regarding the private sector, I'd greatly appreciate it. 

    We'll debate your list of demands for the FLSD after my demands are met. 

  • Please excuse the multiple and incomplete posts. Apparently, this message board has been outsourced. 

    Tom, before we argue until I'm blue in the face, we should first agree on a couple simple ideas:

    1) Every child is entitled to a publically-funded education. 

    2) Public schools are institutions that are vital to a thriving community. 

    If we can't agree on those two statements, I won't bother. And neither should anyone else. 

  • Tom,

    Again, shorter Tom530: I would have voted for the levy if it weren't for those pesky pension pickups for administrators. 

    Tom, you have a list of demands. Once those four are met, you'll have another list of demands. 

    First of all, call outsourcing for what it is and we'll debate. 

     

  • Mr. Jelly,  are you suggesting we should not even discuss the points I put forth?  Tell me why we should not shop hospitalization.   tell me why the FLSD should not study outsourcing bussing, janitorial and cafeteria services.   it seems excessive to me that a district like FLSD that is so "bare bones" can afford to make annual 24% annual pension contributions to all administrators (pension pickups).  I did a lot of work back in 2011 and submitted detailed questions about no teaching personnel to treasurer.  after follow up after follow up, I finally had to drop it, but those questions remain about excess compensation for non teaching personnel.

    We are still living in tough economic times.  A lot of taxpayers are having a rough time of it out here in the private sector.  Before the FLSD takes more money from already stretched thin household budgets, they have an obligation to seek out every cost saving measure.  

     

     

     

    we

  • No matter how much money is poured into public schools education will not improve. That isn't even a goal. The goal is to preserve the bureaucracy. If children gain a useful education, then that is an unintended consequence.

  • "Can we reduce the number of nonteaching personnel and/or their compensation?"

    I don't know. Can we do this, Tom? And if this is a question you are merely throwing out there, why is it one of your 4 reasons for not supporting the levy?  

  • A quick post to clarify the outsourcing of bussing, cafeteria, and janitorial staff idea by Tom530. It means hiring a private company that pays people next to nothing to prepare food for and drive our children to and from school. Great idea. We need responsible people doing this type of work and the best way to achieve this is paying them a fair wage. That costs money. 

  • Shorter Tom530: I would have voted for the levy if it weren't for those darned pension pickups for administrators. 

     

  • bcdc4,  You are absolutely right about the one year contract.  It is critical, the board brings the union to the table in talks for next year's contract and those talks begin soon.  It should be no more business as usual.

  • Air,  The issue with Field spending is not about teacher compensation.  It is a fact that Field teachers are on the low end of the compensation spectrum when compared to surrounding school districts.  They did get about a 7% raise (aka "steps"), so that will help them a bit.

    The FLSD could potentially find huge savings by just shopping hospitalization and then pay some of those savings to teachers so we can attract the brightest and the best.  The fact that tenure still exists in our district worries me that we aren't always retaining the brightest and enrgetic of teachers, imo.

  • The idea of no levy passing since 1991 is not a point. The reason no levy has been passed since 1991 is because we had money from the state that was not pulled from the schools and other tax money we had was not lost. It is not that the community has not cared it is because there was not a need until now. I still have yet to see a true Profit and Lost statement from the school so maybe the new treasurer once he gets more involved in this can produce one, our own Senator stated we should have one available to the public it is our right. All we see are projected budgets not actual spending. Also why did the board not run this levy as two separate levies so maybe we could pass the permenant improvement levy to fix our property we own as tax payers it would at least give them money that would not come out of the general opperating fund so that money could be used for other needs. The board does not want to do that because they are affraid that it would pass and not the other, they do not listen to the community. As far as lossing great teachers there are so many unemployed great teachers out there looking for work that is not a concern. 381,000 just in part of the eastern states 17,000 rounded off from Akron/Cleveland schools.  We have a one year contract with the teachers and need to get involved in that process and address the important issues for our school system. I would love to see things brought back and safety is a concern and we are blessed to have our Brimfeild Police helping so much with that. Education is important but so is acountrability of were is our current money at and how is it spent. More people need to be at these meetings, get involved and support new board canidates. 30% voter turn out is crap, how would you like a 30% pay check, or your spouse give you 30% commitment, we paint 30% of the house and quit, I think you get the point get involved!

     

     

  • FLSD has lost 1.6 million dollars in State funding.  Field is the lowest cost school district in Portage County.  Teachers have taken a pay freeze for two years and also pay more on health insurance that any other district in the county.  In regards of saving money, the district has saved nearly $269,000 annually not to mention the money saved sharing a Treasurer.  That is progress.  In my opinion, Field's teachers deserve every penny and benefit they get.  I have had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know every teacher my child has had.  They truly care, and if you do not have a child enrolled in the district, you probably will never know how compassionate they are.

  • There is no one reason why voters vote "no" on the Field school levies.  Yes, some vote "no" because they simply cannot afford it.  Yes, some vote "no" because they are upset with the Board and their past actions.  Yet others are like me, who believe the Field District has a spending problem.  Examples of why I believe they have a spending problem include:

    1)    Cadillac hospitalization benefits for employees including eye and dental care.  Premiums can be over $20K a year, but usually are $17K to $18K annually for family coverage.  The Field district has not shopped hospitalization in over five years to even attempt to cut these excessive premiums.

    2)  The FLSD has not even studied the possibility of outsourcing bussing, cafeteria or janitorial services.  I'm not saying to outsource, but just to seriously look into it to see what savings can be obtained.  

    3)  There has been no transparency or acocuntability in the FLSD finances.  Hopefully that will change under new treasurer, still I suspect there are excesses in nonteaching compensation.  Can we reduce the number of nonteaching personnel and/or their compensation?

    4)  FLSD continues to pay all administrators pension pickups.  THis is the practice where FLSD actually pays the employee share of pension contribution in addition to the employer contribution.  This makes for a 24% annual pension contribution.

     

  • We all have limited incomes.  We all struggle.  If the levy passed I would have paid around $100 a year for this levy.  I could cut back some to easily provide this.  I have a family of four and combined income of less that $50K, and I don't qualify for any assistance...I KNOW how difficult it is to make ends meet.  I am not thrilled about higher taxes, but it is worth it!  I don't mind pay to play.  I do mind education being cut and the loss of GREAT teachers.  I don't think many people understand the effects of a failing school community.  Voters need to get ALL the facts, not just having a mind set of "a new tax?...I will vote NO".  1991 is a long time for a new tax levy from the district..money don't last forever.  Do you know how terrifying it is to have your 12 year old child walk on State Route 43 because of bus cuts? The speed limit is 45mph.  I will guarantee you that actual speeds are beyond that.  My child came to me last night upset because of the levy failure.  More walking for him and other kids, and less elective classes such as Art, Music and Physical Education, who knows...they may have to cut electives as a whole because they don't have the money to pay for those teachers.  Don't like the ELECTED Board Members?  Vote them out in November instead of using them as an excuse to not vote for the levy.  The levy failure hurts the kids enrolled and community as a whole.  The district is losing a lot of money every year with each levy failure due to parents pulling their kids out of open enrollment for Field Local Schools.  No concerned parent would want to keep their child enrolled in a failing district that keeps getting budget cuts.  I am wrestling with the option of moving my kids to a different district or private schooling but I am torn because the teachers are great in the Field Local School District and our Chief of police and the BPD is steadfast with protecting our kids.  I am and have always been an advocate for education and I have seen first hand what happens to a community that constantly votes down on levies and that is why I am saddened by this loss.  I thought Brimfield and Suffield were supportive of education but I have learned otherwise.

  • It is a shame that only 30.8% of the district voted. But that is the main reason why the levy is put on the ballot in the spring/summer. The pro-levy folks count on a low voter turnout.

    This time it didn't work.

     

  • How many times do they have to ask before they realize that NO means NO!!!!...I am sorry, but there isn't any room in my budget for another increase in anything. When you consider all of the money spent to put on these constantly failling levies...think of how that could of been used for the students that they say it is for!...I have not had a raise in MANY years...Teachers get them all of time...perhaps when we all have that kind of equality, there will be a better chance for a passage!

  • Many Field School District Families have lost faith in the ability of some Field School Board Members to make wise and competent decisions. Personal agendas and in fighting have been quite evident during public school board meetings, especially during this last year. This shameful stigma on our community along with the very real hardships of layoffs and higher prices which local families have had to endure, make opening our wallets and purses, for yet another property tax increase to further decrease our shrinking paychecks, appear insane. This increased cost, (tax), even gets passed along to renters in the form of higher rent. Even Renewel School Levy Taxes, which are touted  as being no new tax, cost us money, because the taxes never go down, even if they fail.  We are Taxed Enough Already, find another way, such as a sales tax, to support the public schools. The constant demand for higher school taxes is not for the children as they always say, it is now  a matter of survival for many families who live paycheck to paycheck.  

  • Fifth time in two years? Perhaps they should have a vote on it every day. A levy a day keeps the doctor away?