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OPINION: Vote No On Revere Schools Levy

Citizens for Responsible School Administration

Like all members of our community, we want the best schools possible. Unfortunately, we have been given false choices in regards to our support of Revere Schools. The Revere School Board and administration are threatening the community by demanding more money through higher property taxes or they will cut additional student programs and lay off teachers. More importantly, they have omitted a number of facts that question the need for additional money, which raises concerns how these additional funds will be spent. 

It does not make sense that with $13 million in the bank (which is over 40 percent of the annual budget), such drastic steps need to be taken even with the anticipated $1.2 million reduction in state support. The district has only used $300,000 of the cash surplus despite the “Great Recession,” yet it is threatening to lay off 34 teachers whose cost to the district for wages and benefits is less than $2 million per year. Despite facing a “budget crisis,” the school board rejected a teacher wage freeze stating that they can not legally approve a new teacher’s contract until there is “adequate revenue available to meet expenditures for the length of a contract; in this case three years.” Contrary to this explanation, the administration approved the last teacher’s contract in August 2008 even though they projected a $10.4 million deficit over the period of that contract, according to its five-year forecast during that time.

Revere has a long history of making the district’s finances appear worse than they are. In 2006, the administration put out a five-year forecast that called for a $24 million cumulative deficit, when in actuality the district enjoyed a $4 million surplus.

Revere remains one of the best-funded school systems in Ohio. Threatening layoffs and other program cuts, rejecting a wage freeze, and proposing an unsustainable spending plan is fiscally irresponsible. State cuts in funding will force changes, but we have lost confidence in our current school board's and administration’s ability to make the right decisions. 

We have proposed to the board a more sensible plan we call "Sustaining Revere." As the name implies, it is sustainable in that it slows the wage and benefit growth to reasonable levels over the next three years and utilizes the large $13 million cash surplus to bridge over the remnants of the recession and reduced state support. The latest offer made by teachers is in line with this plan.  Our analysis shows that adopting this plan would result in the cash surplus stabilizing around $8 million, without the need for layoffs, cuts in educational programs, or increases in property taxes. It’s interesting to note that the first person to say our plan could not be implemented due to existing contracts was the Revere school treasurer, who has renegotiated two new five-year contracts in the last three years that gave him a 7.5 percent pay increase this year.

Revere’s superintendent, who was presented to the district as the highest-paid superintendent in the county when he was hired in 2009, and the treasurer are leading efforts to force the community into false choices -- give more money for unsustainable pay increases or the quality of the education will be cut. Neither of those administrators live in our community, yet they enjoy the support of our school board. For those reasons, we are asking Revere voters not to succumb to their tactics and vote NO on additional levies until after November, when a new slate of school board members can be elected to provide an open and honest dialogue about the state of our schools. Then we will know what resources really are required to ensure that Revere remains an outstanding school district. 

Larry Chlebina

Treasurer, Citizens for Responsible School Administration. 

Please visit http://www.revereschoollevy.org/

Dan Bell April 15, 2011 at 12:38 PM
Your position actually made some sense until the last paragraph. There is no missing information at this time relating to the financial picture of this school district. While there is uncertainty all around, the current financial information is available and presumably is in your hands or you would not be able to make your own financial projections. As you know, the financial information is public information under Ohio law. Suggesting that the Board members are being hoodwinked by the Treasurer and the Superintendent is lame--and is a political stunt designed to distract attention from the real issue: what is your current plan to ensure the district's pursuit of excellence and fiscal viability. If your plan, as it seems to be, is to accuse the current Board of being unsophisticated and blindly accepting the recommendations of the Treasurer and Supeintendent, then you have offered not choice--not even a "false" one. If we vote "no" and your preferred Board (who you fail to identify) is not put in place to do your bidding, then what? Given the current options, I would prefer to pay additional taxes and force the Board, whoever it may be, to be more accountable. I am voting "yes" based on it being the lesser of two evils--but I am not ignoring your warning about the Treasurer having a bit too much pull. I simply do not see how the benefit associated with voting "yes" is outweighed by any position that you have articulated in this piece.
Thomas J. Coyne, Ph.D. April 15, 2011 at 02:22 PM
No school is on top if its leadership is not! Revere has not told us Ohio cancelled all-day kindergarten saving much classroom space many teachers; additionally, we have not been told Norton City Schools has the identical "excellent" rating as Revere but Norton has FAILED to pass seven of the last seven requests for more money. Norton has a smarter Board of Education? Is Norton better managed financially? The "need" for money is confused with a "want" of money. Revere government schools is an example of government gone crazy! We have been told of an increased demand for vouchers to be spent elsewhere - anywhere but Revere. Why? If Revere is so "excellent" why are people fleeing it, why are people using vouchers to get away from it? Higher the taxes for schools causes greater foreclosures of homes and modre school children being required to leave the district. What a terrible legacy for existing Board members: "The children of poorer families be damned! Show me the money," seems to be Reveres's only objective. If this new levy passes one thing is certain: almost immediately a new levy will be introduced as "needed for the children" knowing it is only for Revere Administrators, teachers The real financial problem at Revere: A MAJOR MISALLOCATION OF SCARCE AND COSTLY RESOURCES, MONEY! Financial management at Revere Local Schools is UNSUSTAINABLE. Respectfully, Thomas J. Coyne, Ph.D., (Financial Economist)

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