Kudos to Gary Henrich for calling the Aurora Board of Education's handling of an upcoming 5.9-mill levy an embarrassment; we were promised no new levy would come this soon.
He states that, in addition to having several million dollars in reserve, property values funding the levy have increased by millions. He argues that "educational excellence" is no excuse for additional funding, because Aurora's schools have been top tier for years. For 2016, cleveland.com ranked them No. 9 in the state.
While proponents might argue that more money is needed to stay there, with over 300 public systems in Ohio, I doubt property values would suffer if we "plummeted" from the top 3 percent to the top 6 percent, or even 9 percent.
Before calling me "anti-education," know that I'm a college graduate with multiple professional licenses. My daughter graduated from college magna cum laude. My opposition stems from the 2012 levy results. In addition to the massive school levy, there was a modest 2-mill levy for police and safety Forces.
I believe that failed because the school levy passed. And if there's another police levy in the near future, I fear history may repeat itself. A recent Advocate article outlined recent increases in local crime. As Henrich pointed out, enrollment has stagnated over the past decade.
While expensive public schools benefit students and parents, more resources for police and safety forces benefit everyone. If Aurora schools were nearer the bottom, and enrollment were increasing faster than the crime rate, I'd think otherwise.
But looking at the numbers, I can't justify that expense. I would rather afford a modest police levy later than be burdened with a major expense of questionable value now.
Scott D. Haseltine, Aurora
Gary Henrich's comments have been crying wolf over non-issues. Apparently he is the sole person to investigate school finances and he thinks he's in the right to critique a recent graduate's critical thinking skills (See the comments section of the other opinon piece). Looking at these same numbers, I'm glad the teachers are compensated fairly. Mr. Henrich doesn't like this and he doesn't like the teachers' union. He's apparently jealous.
It is also very hypocritical for Mr. Henrich to complain about the school district breaking their promise regarding when the next levy would come up, while at the same time celebrating the State's ever decreasing funding of public education (See comments on Mike Acomb's piece in opinion section).
Mr. Haseltine: Good points! The writer is exactly correct about the safety levy, but in addition that particular levy was not well founded since Aurora had at the time (maybe still now) one of the lowest crime rates in the state.
But still, Mr. Haseltine's point that the school's dominating tax-grabbing position (76% of tax revenues) essentially crowds out city spending on improvements that help EVERYONE, not just families with kids in the school system.
For example, imagine if if the bond levy to fix the roads, were on the ballot on May 2nd. Chances are either our cars' shock absorbers or the school revenues would lose.
The point is we cannot just pass levies willy nilly becasue it feels good. We must examine the facts and weigh the argument unemotionally. And this levy is apermanent one. It is my understanding that voters will not have a chance to vote on a renewal of it and it will never go away. This is why many people are now calling it a FOREVER LEVY!
Judgingby the highly thumbs down ratings that anyone voicing oppositition to this levy ratingsis receiving, it is apparent that the pro-levier watchdogs are out to squelch the dissenters.
It's too bad so many of these people have closed their minds to the facts and have not investigated the schools finances moreclosely before villifying dissenters. This information is all public by contacting the Public Relations Director, Stacey Deanna. If anyone hasattended a neighborhood presentation from the Superintendent you can see thethere is transparency of information, and the school people are good people,but the information ishighly selective, exclusivelyto build the schools' casefor having to take no budgetary actions at all.There proposalis not sympathetic to the concern of burdened taxpayers at all. What other feedback mechansim do we have but to VOTE NO?
It is absolutely possible to be pro-education and pro-Auroa and still be opposed to this levy. Aurora is losing its appeal as a "value" city to live in with each ridiculous new school levy we pass, considering the enrollment is flat and the social injustice occurring from wages and benefits that exceed the average household in Aurora. This is what I am worried about as a 25 year resident and father of 4 children who have graduated from AHS.
If this levy is defeated, as it is likely to, The Board will be in an excellent bargaining position with the union in order tomake long term changes to the school union contractswhaich are bleeding the district, and in fact ALL public education districts statewide.