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.
Treasurer, Citizens for Responsible School Administration.
Please visit http://www.revereschoollevy.org/