Category Archives: Xenia Community Schools

Passing the Xenia Schools 6.5 Mill Emergency Property Tax Levy: The Bottom Line (corrected)

by Daniel Downs

Since the Xenia City School District attempted to pass a 1.5 earned income tax levy in August, not much has changed. The economic situation is still uncertain. Employment is still near 8%, and growth is still very slow. The Congressional Budget Office estimates remain the same as is the outlook of economists like Nouriel Roubini and financial experts like John Mauldin. (see Passing Xenia Schools Income Tax Replacement Levy)

Also unchanged is the claim by Xenia School officials of a huge deficit looming over the election season horizon. On November 6, Xenia Community School officials want voters to agree that there is a dire need for landowners whose property value is $100,000 to pay an additional $200 per year in taxes. That is on top of the bond issue tax, the half-percent income tax, three or more previously renewed property taxes, Greene County Career Center taxes, city taxes, county taxes, state taxes, federal taxes, utility usage taxes including electricity, gas and communication taxes, sales taxes, business taxes, and many other taxes.

Why do school officials need more money? Past budget cuts made by the school district was due to rising costs of health insurance, utilities and diesel fuel costs, according to a recent Xenia Daily Gazette article. A Dayton Daily News article claims passing the emergency property tax levy will alleviate the looming budget deficit. Of course, giving Xenia schools $200 dollars more of your hard earned income each year will meet the most important need of all, benefiting student learning.

Will it not also assure administrators and teachers that they will continue getting union determined pay raises, health insurance that is continuing to rise, retirement, and other benefits?

We can thank our union President Barak Obama and congressional Democrats for rising health costs, and Capitol Hill bureaucrats and oil cartels for rising gas and utility pricing, part of which is funding research and development of new energy technologies.

But, what about the budget deficit? Here I want to make several observations based on the school district’s current 5 year budget forecast. The estimates assume a continual decline of daily attendance, which also means less revenue. The amount of taxes dollars returned to our school district by the state is determined by the number of students enrolled and attending. The forecast estimates that there will be 200 fewer students attending Xenia schools in five years. If we begin with 2012, the estimated decrease in the number of students attending our schools adds up to 430.

In a presentation to the Ohio School Boards Association, Randy Overbeck said, “the district enrollment has been fairly consistent over the past 15 years. ADM (average daily attendance) has remained around 4800-5100.” The school district estimated attendance to be 5,028 in 2012, 4,748 by 2013 and 4,548 by 2017, which figures are historically unprecedented.

The school’s 5 year budget forecast also assumes property and income tax revenue growth without a new levy. Actual property tax revenue was $17,092,007 in 2012. By 2017, property tax revenue is estimated to be $18,687,908. Income tax revenue estimates follows a similar trend. It grows from $3,197,402 to $3,239,094. While personal property taxes are still being phased out, the state was still reimbursing our school district over $2.9 million in 2012. It is estimated that the state will continue compensating our school district with over $1.8 million for the next 5 years. With the amount of personal property taxes still being collected, our school will continue receiving over $3 million, according to the budget forecast.

Of course, Xenia School District payroll expenses will continue to grow by 41.4 percent over 5 years. That is an annual increase of 8.3 percent, 90% of which covers insurance and retirement benefits. When the contracted services are included, payroll expenses increase to 54 percent, an annual increase of 10.8 percent.

Consequently, while the number of students served by Xenia Schools is estimated to significantly decline, Xenia taxpayers are expected to increase their tax burden to cover the presumed loss. If the decline turns out to be real, the school district revenue will certainly decrease because the state funding is based on daily average attendance.

There is a problem with Xenia school officials blaming the state funding formula for declining school attendance. It is even worse when they assume voters are dumb enough to believe that the nearly $4 million going to charter, STEM, and other nearby school districts is a real expense. It is not a real loss because the school district received revenue for those students to give to the school public school of their parents’ choice. How terrible it must be for families to have the freedom to choose how and where their children will be educated. Yet, the same school officials fail to inform the public about how much they receive from students from other districts enrolling and attending Xenia schools.

Xenia school officials are not loosing tax revenues because it was never theirs. Unlike county and state governments redistributing local tax money, it is unfortunate that Ohio law mandates the primary local school district to distribute tax dollars to other public schools like charters, STEM school, and now other nearby school districts.

Whether the estimated decrease of 200-430 students over the next 5 years is the supposed to be the result of families moving out of Xenia or attending other nearby schools is a question that is anyone’s guess.

What is not unknown is the ultimate goal of the proposed emergency property tax levy. That goal is same as identified in my last post about the school’s earned income tax levy. It is to increase cash flow so that school officials have an on-going year-end surplus of $5-6 million. The budget forecast estimates a $2 million surplus at the end of 2013 and $700,000 at the end of 2014. By that time, Romney may have been able to move the economy forward to a growing economy and 6% or less unemployment. Many more taxpayers would be making more money and would be able to afford giving schools $200 or more for five years and thereafter.

In the final analysis, Xenia School officials estimate a steady decline in student population, steady income revenue, and significantly rising costs. Most of the increased costs are due to above inflation employee benefits. Unless taxpayer annual income increases about 10-12 percent, Xenia taxpayers will not be able to afford the emergency property tax levy or any additional taxes. Based on the school’s estimates, the budget forecast is unsustainable. That is the bottom line.

May 3 Ballot: Renewing School Levies Issues 3 & 4

On May 3, Xenia voters will determine Xenia School officials will have enough money to convert one of the abandoned elementary schools (i.e. Arrowwood) into a new office building.

Voters should remember that they passed 1/2% income tax levy with the passing of the bond issue. By renewing the 1/2% income tax due to expire, taxpayers will be paying 1% of their incomes to our schools. In addition to the property taxes.

It would be a dream come true if voter turnout was nearly 100 percent or at least comparable to November turn outs. However, public officials depend on low voter turn out during off-season elections. That is because those showing up at the polls are mostly those officials have convinced to support their issue.

Nevertheless, the issue is whether our school officials actually need more of our incomes to either convert good school buildings for their preferred uses and/or to maintain the 3 other schools. I answer is no they do not.

The $5 million projected budget deficit may be real. But seeing budgets are always bloated by about 10% for contingencies, it just as likely the deficit is on paper only. In other words, it justifies their plans to close schools for the building program and to convert one into a new office complex.

To prove public institutions over-budget by around 10%, let’s look at the 2009 City fiscal audit.
The City projected operating expenditures would be $16,497,434 but actual reported expenditures were $15,195,407. This shows the budget was 8% over actual costs. The was true of revenues. City management’s estimated budget 8% higher than actual income ($16,457,683 budget and $15,096,409 actual). After looking at the schools financial audits, it appears that the officials have consistently over budgeted projection to around 3 percent. That means the school budget was $1.4 million less than actual expenditures last year.

The last fiscal audit showed a district-wide operating deficit of a little over $3 million. The reasons were all related to the recessionary economy except for an increase of salaries and benefits. It looks like the increase was in the range of 4-6 percent or $2-3 million.

Repeating the question, do school officials need another 1/2% of our income, which by the way amount to nearly $2 million? Should taxpayers funded converting usable school facilities into new offices?

What school officials should do is repair the old historic building they currently occupy. With appropriate renovations, the landmark could be restored to a well-functioning office building. In fact, all of the continuing income tax dollars could have been used to do that long ago. The other 1/2% income tax levy should be sufficient for maintenance and repair of the high school and the two middle schools.

The previously mentioned $2 million might do more to help the local community if spent at local businesses.

For those all of those reasons, Issue 4 should not be renewed. The school district actually does need the operating levy (Issue 3) renewed.

What to Expect From Consolidating Xenia Community Schools

By Daniel Downs

From the 1930s through 1970s, a national school consolidation movement occurred that was inspired by educational reformers like Ellwood Cubberley and James Conant. Thousands of small schools across the state and nation were closed. Larger school districts were created and larger school buildings were built to accommodate the new students in smaller classes. The sales pitch for school consolidation was cost saving efficiency, more curricular choice, higher wages for teachers, and, consequently, a higher quality of education resulting in higher student achievement.

The recent outcry of both politicians and businesses point to a failure to deliver the goods. Although more money is spent per capita on public education than any other nation, American youth are underachieving in science, math, and often failing in reading and writing. These were the same problems used to justify increased spending on schooling in the 1980s and in the 1960s. Moreover, the same problems of school drop out rates and the education gap remain the ballyhoo of professional educators, businesses, and politicians. The latter problem has been glaringly evident in big cities where school consolidation was supposed to show the greatest results.

Xenia Community School district is a by-product of that consolidation reform. Like neighboring school districts and others throughout the nation, inter-school district consolidation is the cost-saving reform movement of the 21st century. It is being funded by dirty “tobacco money” and will prove to produce in-kind results.

In previous articles, I presented education research demonstrating that small neighborhood schools enable the best learning environments in which quality education becomes possible. Smaller schools enable more interaction between administrators, teachers, and students. Parents are often more involved in their children’s schooling. Teachers enjoy teaching more and student achievement is greater in smaller schools. Because crime, vandalism, truancy, dropout, and other behavioral problems occur less in smaller schools, everyone is able to achieve more. As a result, a much higher percentage of students graduate and later obtain college degrees. These are common factors in the many studies and reports on small schools.

When reviewing the research literature again, I found the maximum school population was wrong. The studies I previously had used claimed the above benefits were consistent in schools up to 400 students, but new studies claim the upper limit should be less than 300 for elementary schools. For example, a 2003 University of Missouri study found that elementary aged students form low socio-economic households performed better in small schools. These findings are similar to many other studies as well. Students in Missouri schools with enrollments 200 and under achieved the highest SAT-9 test scores in reading, math, science, and social studies. Interestingly, the Cincinnati-based Knowledge Works Foundation funded a study titled “Cost Effectiveness of Small Schools.” In the study lead by educator Barbara Lawrence, an upper enrollment level of 150 for grades 1-6 and 200 for grades 1-8 were recommended based on a review of all relevant studies.

Because small schools benefit students from lower income households, one third or more of Xenia students can expect a poorer quality of education if forced to attend larger consolidated schools.

More important possibly than educational quality research are studies on the return of schooling. A return on schooling refers to the economic returns on an investment in schooling and in this case public schooling. While most studies focus on either the number of years of schooling or qualitative factors like academic achievement, a research study by Christopher Berry of Harvard University addresses economic impacts of school size. In his research paper titled “School Size and Returns to Education,” Berry finds the only consistent factor negatively impacting income levels is school size. That is men who had attended small schools earned more income later in life than those who had attended large schools. He analyzed teacher salary, class size, district size, and state funding finding only school size impacted future income. With an increase of 100 students, Berry calculated the average decrease of future income would be 3.7 percent. If the average income is $50,000 and school size is 300, then those who had attended schools with 400 students will likely earn only $48,150 or those of a lower socio-economic class whose members on average earn a yearly income of $25,000 can expect to make about $24,000.

Therefore, Xenia students can expect to earn less income during their careers because they attended larger consolidated schools.

The argument that larger schools cost less to operate is true. However, it is also true that smaller schools cost less per pupil because of higher graduation rates, higher attendance levels, and fewer behavioral problems, resulting in a higher quality of learning overall.

Whether or not it is too late to change the rebuilding plan–only lawyers would know, it is certainly not too late to force the state to change its enrollment policy and to make future plans for Xenia Schools. For example, instead of settling for five larger elementary schools, a new plan should include rebuilding or building small schools near Arrowwood, Spring Hill (without a basement), possibly Wright Cycle Estates, and elsewhere.

Sources:Why Small School Are Best,” Xenia Daily Gazette, April 28, 2008 and “It’s All About the Money,” Xenia Daily Gazette, April 29, 2008. John Alspaugh and Rui Gao, “School Size as a Factor in Elementary School Achievement,” University of Missouri, April 28, 2003. CR Berry’s research has been republished in the book Beseiged: School Boards and the Future of Education Politics, 2006 and in the Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, April 2010.

Gov. Kaisch’s State Budget: The Ugly, the Bad, and the Good

In my opinion, Gov. Kaisch is not the handsomest dude on the planet. I suspect his wife may have a different opinion.

What the governor lacks in appearance he makes up in statesmanship. His speech to the legislators on the budget was downright inspirational. Not only that but he even dared to praise the members of the opposing party for their work and accomplishments on a number of issues.

It almost made me cry.

I did say–almost!

Seriously, the budget itself is a mixed bag of missed opportunities (the bad) and a number of advancements for Ohioans and their economy (the good). Of course, it all depends on who you talk to, or, in this case, whose report you read.

According to the report by Matt Mayer, President of the Buckeye Institute, the governor’s budget missed some important opportunities. The bad news is the general revenue fund will be $1.26 billion greater for 2012 than in 2011 and $1.73 billion for 2013. That is a biennium increase of 12 percent. This is the second highest increase since 1990.

So how can the Governor increase spending with an $8 billion deficit? According to Mayer, the governor’s budget shows total revenues exceeding the deficit by $8 billion, which causes Mayer a lot of concern. It shows Gov. Kaisch has chosen to continue the same old policies of the past that eventually resulted in the present fiscal crisis.

Equally disturbing is the governor’s cuts to local governments. Instead of innovating new strategy to fund both state and local governance, the governor chose the slash-and-burn approach. This easy money strategy doesn’t reduce the size of state government and thus return local tax dollars back to local governments who must continue or fund new programs. Gov. Kaisch simply cuts funding to local governments to increase spending and balance the budget.

The $5 million budget deficit proposed by Xenia city and school officials may be nothing more than advanced notice of the state budget cuts. On the other hand, the budget deficit could be the typical 10% inflation budget estimates for contingency purposes; all institutions increase budget estimates for unforeseen costs. Budgets are based on previous year revenues, expenditures, known issues that will increase costs, plus 10% for unknown costs usually in addition to a contingency fund for emergencies.

Be that as it may, Mayer wishes Gov. Kaisch would have made the difficult choice of cut government employee compensation a little as well as cut the executive and legislative branch budgets. If he had cut the death tax, the bill making away through both houses, he would have as much money to spend, and many others will wish he had less money to throw at his program agendas.

Mayer did find some good in the Gov. Kaisch’s budget. The governor made noteworthy strides in such areas as prison reform, healthcare cost containment, and education funding. He included alternative sentencing approaches to non-violent offender that along with reforms nursing home service costs to Medicare will save taxpayers millions of dollars.

Some think his nursing home reforms are ugly and bad too.

Gov. Kaisch chalked up a few more good points with a number of his educational reforms. For example, his “support for Teach for America and doubling of EdChoice scholarships are vital lifelines to the most vulnerable and will inject more competition into our broken K-12 system.” Scraping the previous governor’s unfunded, evidenceless, one-size-fits-all Evidence Based School-Improvement Model will end the veiled attempt to increase dues-paying membership for unions. At the college level, the governor calls for professors to use fewer assistants for classroom instruction and a three-year degree. (Here, it is assumed that also means high schools will be required to ensure college-bound student meet the once first year prerequisites whether through coursework in high schools, college campuses, or virtual schools. That in itself would not only save a lot of money but would also be a systemic great achievement.)

Many of us may like Governor’s enthusiasm and business acumen, but analysts like Mayer give us reason to doubt his ability to help Ohio innovate its way to a better future and greater prosperity. If he cannot find innovative ways to fund government, can we expect he will achieve his inspiring goals for Ohio? Unless his goals are primary for big corporate concerns, maybe not.

To read Matt Mayer’s report on Governor Kaisch’s budget, visit the Buckeye Institute website:

How Union Busting Could Effect Xenia Community Schools

The so-called “union busting” efforts by state officials is a blessing in disguise. The fiscal conundrum faced by governors and state representatives has forced all of them to deal with public unions one way of another. In states like Wyoming, the Democrat governor convinced the union to cut pay and benefits in order to maintain a growing economy. In Indiana, the Republican governor eliminated collective bargaining that enabled government to become more efficient, provide services more effectively, and increase merit-based pay to public employees. This means both methods of controlling public finances work.

In Ohio, Republican lawmakers are seeking to implement similar fiscal policies as Indiana.

Union employees, Ted Strickland and other democrats claim an end to collective bargaining will harm the middle-class. Mary McCleary of The Buckeye Institute refutes their claim. In a recent article, she wrote:

“Contrary to the rhetoric these folks are spouting, eliminating collective bargaining for public sector employees actually does the opposite. It helps the middle class and protects our vulnerable populations. As it currently stands when there is not enough money to pay for all government employees in the system, workers get laid off. They lose their jobs. If a collective bargaining agreement weren’t in place, jobs could be saved. Everyone could take a small pay cut, and everyone would keep their jobs. Furthermore, when government workers are laid off, services are necessarily cut. Think about our schools where teachers are let go and programs are cut. The students suffer and all because the unions won’t make concessions. Contrary to what has been said, collective bargaining for government employees actually hurts the middle class.”

Last week, a manufacturer’s sales rep shared his experience with unions. He was an autoworker who made it to the highest position in the AEU. He sat at the bargaining tables with corporate executives. He made the big bucks and yet he quit. Why? Because all it was about was getting the biggest pay for himself and the union bosses. Union workers were never a part of real deal.

How does any of this apply to Xenia Schools?

School officials claim they have a budget deficit of $5 million. In order to make ends meet, they have to close two schools and lay-off around 70 teachers. What if all union employees including administrators, teachers, and support staff accepted a temporary pay and benefit cut for say three years? After all, wages, salaries and benefits make up the largest part of the budget. Because the school budget is about $60 million, a 10% cut would reduce costs by about $5 million. That would save 70 teaching positions.

Of course, it might mess up the plan to close two schools in order to get the “Tobacco Money” for building new schools, which plan is wrong for Xenia. The plan eventually to close Spring Hill is no more necessary because of a high water table any more than at Tecumseh. Besides, rebuilding Spring Hill without a basement would solve the previous flooding problem. A number of other schools do not have basements either.

Actually, Xenia needs at least one more neighborhood elementary school, not two less. Xenia lawyers could challenge the Ohio School Facilities Commission future projections of school building enrollements and its minimum enrollement requirement in court.

As in previous posts, education research proves small neighborhood schools provide better interactive learning environments than larger ones. Because small schools facilitate greater personal interaction, teachers and students enjoy learning more and consequently are more productive. (See my series titled Xenia Community Schools Rebuilding Plan I, II, III)

This blogger has a graduate level education in secondary education.

Xenia taxpayers reject new taxes for new schools

Xenia taxpayers rejected the school administration’s $79 million bond issue by a 16.6% margin. If my reading of the Greene County Board of Elections voting data is correct, voter turn out was still better than in February when Xenia taxpayer rejected the City’s enormous operating levy. Only 13% of registered voters went to the polls in February, but an impressive 26% turned out for the school’s bond issue. The 26% voter turn out was still low compared to the nearly 67% of voter turned for the November 4, 2008 presidential election.

Writers like to believe that their research, wisdom, or persuasion sway public opinion in the direction they think is best. Of course, writers are sometimes accused of being dreamers too. In my last commentary on this issue, I focused on the moral issue underlying the administrator’s near $100,000 effort to increase our taxes. That moral issue was the state’s $58 million give-away that was gained by what amounts to extortion. The state unjustly took millions of dollars from tobacco companies and justified it by setting aside a large chunk of their spoils. Yet, this particular moral issue was not likely an important factor in most voters’ decision.

One of the most likely factors was the economic recession. The inflated economy caused by high gas prices that added the necessary weight to an economy overburdened by bad credit and unsustainable debt levels collapsed our economy. Many investment advisors predict a long-term recovery. That is unless Obama’s New Big Deal prevents a recovery and thus creates an even worse recession. The loss of business, jobs, investment earnings make for an uncertain financial future. Adding more taxes is not a good idea right now.

Another factor affecting voter decisions was the push by school administrators to get a positive vote. I know of parents whose children were made to attend the vote-for-the-bond-issue rally held at Cox Field on Monday evening. For at least a week prior to Tuesday May 5, school officials and teachers were telling kids to encourage their parents to vote and they did. I also heard about teachers giving students extra credit for helping with get-out-the-vote activities. Some kids were given time off to do so as well. While attending the rally was mandatory for a lot of kids, the goal was to gets as many of their parents to enjoy the free food and the sales promotion gala. Some parents, at least, think it is wrong.

I bet you thought schooling was about learning the basics not the politics of government funding raising. We tend to forget that all school professionals have been trained by the vastly powerful education union lobby, the National Education Association (NEA). The same tactics used by those politics in Washington D.C. are also employed at home. That is why funding schooling with extortion money is not seen as a big deal. The same can be said of manipulating kids to pressure parents for the good of the agendas of politicians.

If their agenda would have produced the best types of schools, I might have been tempted to vote for it. School research proves otherwise. (See Xenia Community Schools Rebuilding Plan : Why Small Schools are Best)

As far as I can discern, Xenia taxpayers built all of their schools without state extortion money. Xenia citizens are capable of continuing that practice. The Ohio legislature will continue to appropriate money to assist school districts build new schools. If needed, it will still be available in the future. The solution to increasing local funding for education is increasing local wealth, which points beyond our local community to the political and economic causes preventing it.

By Daniel Downs

May 5 Xenia City Community Schools Bond Levy Ballot Text

The following is the text of the $79.95 million bond issue that will put Xenia homeowners and wage earners up-to-their-ears in more debt. The average amount of debt each household will share is about $3,300. For the same amount, every homeowner could be driving a new Mazda or Nissan Altima. Okay, they would have to convince the dealership to lease for 28 years. Because we are in a terrible recession, a dealership just might. I bet you a Pontiac dealer would.

Anyway, the official bond issue ballot is as follows:

A Majority Affirmative Vote Is Necessary For Passage.

Shall the Xenia Community City School District, Greene and Warren Counties, Ohio be authorized to do the following:

(1) Issue bonds for the purpose of constructing school facilities under the State of Ohio Classroom Facilities Assistance Program and related facilities, including science and technology labs and community meeting space; renovating, improving and constructing additions to existing facilities; furnishing and equipping the same, including enhanced safety and security devices; improving the sites thereof; and acquiring land and interests in land, in the principal amount of $79,950,000, to be repaid annually over a maximum period of twenty-eight (28) years, and levy a property tax outside the ten mill limitation, estimated by the county auditor to average over the bond repayment period seven and forty hundredths (7.40) mills for each one dollar of tax valuation, which amounts to seventy-four ($0.74) cents for each one hundred dollars of tax valuation, commencing in 2009, first due in calendar year 2010, to pay the annual debt charges on the bonds, and to pay debt charges on any notes issued in anticipation of those bonds?

(2) Levy an additional property tax to provide for permanent improvements for the School District at a rate not exceeding one half (0.50) mills for each one dollar of tax valuation, which amounts to $0.05 for each one hundred dollars of tax valuation, for a continuing period of time, commencing in 2009, first due in calendar year 2010?



Pros & Cons:

Surely, you have read the expensive four-color sales brochure that was delivered to every Xenia household compliments of the school board. In case your color blind, it consists of blues, yellows, and reds. There is also green. Oh, you missed that color! It’s the color of lot of money. To prove it, let me quote from the school administrator’s 10 page sales brochure.

“Well its our turn now, Xenia, to take our share of the State money–near $58 million–to revitalize our schools and communities.” (p.2)

The proposed $79.95 million bond issue “is fairer because it extends for 28 years–meaning future generations will have to pay their rightful share.” (p.2)

To pay for our school that the State has determined we need, the Ohio School Facilities Commission (OSFC) “is offering a 48 percent off sale–we pay 52 percent and they pay 48 percent–for new schools.” (p.2)

There you have it a sale no community experiencing a severe economic recession could possibly pass up. Yes, you must buy into it today for three reasons: (1) Building new schools will create new jobs (p.3); (2) the building might crumble to the ground and blow away (pp.3,6); and (3) because it is inevitable anyway, you can pay now or you Will Pay Later (p.4).

Could the pros be conning taxpayers?

Everyone knows new schools will create new jobs for Xenia. You will notice that those construction jobs are temporary jobs. Some Xenia resident might get hired by out-of-town contractors. Because investment advisers and some economists predict the recession will continue beyond 2010, those jobs might help a few for a while. What Xenia really needs is more businesses that pay more local residents a good income on a long-term basis.

The school administrators’ sales pitch does present some truth. New schools would provide a better environment, but here is the problem: the new plan is like the old plan. The primary objective of both old and new is not better education but getting the state’s money extorted from tobacco companies.

Although I’m not a bleeding heart for large corporations, taking $58 million of such funds obtained by extortion is to support state crime.

I used to smoke a pack or two of cigarettes a day. Written on every pack was a warning that inhaling might have harmful consequences. Everyone I knew was aware of someone who had died of cancer or some other disease caused by consuming tobacco products. We all exercised our freedom by choosing to risk getting ill and possibly dying. Anyone employed in making the stuff know the risks as well. The tobacco companies didn’t deceive or coerce us or anyone else into consuming or making their products. Consequently, the state extorted money from the tobacco companies, and it’s being justified by helping pay for public education.

Once everyone is beholding to a corrupt state no one will have a legitimate right to complain about greater state injustices or crimes.

Once everyone is beholding to a corrupt state no one will have a legitimate right to complain about greater state injustices or crimes. The $58 million sales is like buying from the mafia on credit–Guido may one day come to collect and probably some additional interest not agreed upon. If you don’t pay up, Guido will hurt you. Giving up our freedom to tyrants will not end well either.

Unless, more new schools are built to accommodate the children living in our community’s new housing areas, all Xenia families and children will get is new ineffective schools. That is what studies of many school districts around the nation have proven. Small neighborhood schools are the most effective structure and organization of schools. That is exactly what the Xenia plan still does not do. In order to get the state’s extorted money, school administrator plan on combining schools. School research from around the nations provide ample evidence that the best learning environments are not just school with small classes but also schools under 350 students, which is mentioned in Ohio law.

Xenia doesn’t need the state’s extortion money. Our community built the current schools by raising our taxes as needed. The one of the primary reasons for the Ohio School Facilities Commission is to assist with capital funding for the needier communities. OSFC will have funding available after the recession is over. It may not be as large a pool of money they extorted from tobacco companies, but it will exist all the same.

See also my research on the subject:
Xenia Community Schools Rebuilding Plan : What I Learned at the Forum
Xenia Community Schools Rebuilding Plan : Why Small Schools are Best
Xenia Community Schools Rebuilding Plan : It’s All About the Money

Comparing the City and Schools Revenues and Their Respective Tax Issues

By Daniel Downs

If you haven’t read the News-Current lately, you missed an important announcement. Xenia Community School officials are putting their huge bond issue back on the ballot in May. As the News-Current noted, 59% of the voters rejected another large long-term tax increase to fund the building of new schools.

The big push by school administrators and our elected school board is for the building of large complex for the high school and other community organizations. Rebuilding schools that have been around since the time I was born, which was around the time God created the earth, are of secondary importance. Among those schools are Shawnee Elementary, my first school, Cox Elementary, my second, and Spring Hill Elementary. Oh, my, I forgot the administrators want out of that ancient administrative building on the East side like yesterday. What is not needed is the current plan for less than the best type of schools.

To top it all off, voters will be voting on the city’s 5.0 mill operating tax levy in February. Having talked to my council member, read the council minutes, and reviewed the latest annual financial report, it is obvious that the city needs more money to compensate for the rising cost of doing business. Inflation continually reduces what a dollar buys. I just don’t see the need for an annual increase from $417,000 to about $1.9 million. I would certainly vote for a renewal and possibly for an addition 1.5 mills. But, in a deep recession, any new tax increases don’t seem like a good idea.

Nevertheless, let’s look at the two tax issues.

A renewal of the city’s 3.5 mill operating tax levy would continue generating the same amount it has since 1959, which is $417,000. As mentioned above, the proposed replacement levy of 3.5 mills with an additional 1.5 mills means property owners who used to pay around $26 a year for property valued at $100,000 will now pay an additional $153, which breaks down to about $12 more a month. However, those figures only cover the 3.5 mills plus a 1.5 mills addition. They do not reveal the overall amount of property tax paid to the city. The same owner of a $100,000 home currently pays about $135 in property tax to the city. If the levy is passed, the same homeowner will be giving the city $288 a year.

As everyone who is making a buck knows, the city taxes every dollar earned at the rate of 1.75%. The income tax generates about $9 million a year. That is over and above the $9 plus million residents pay for like water, sewer, and sanitation services. So the current levy is a relatively small but necessary part of the city’s operating budget. Because of inflating costs, the 3.5 mill levy now is worth only .92 mills. In other words, the city needs more revenue in addition to the inflationary rise of income tax revenue, which this year may decline along with their earnings on investments.

During the 2006-2007 school year, Xenia Community Schools received almost $3 million from its 0.5% income tax levy. The school district’s combined property tax levies is 43.9 mills, which brought in about $20 million. A family whose home is appraised at $100,000 pays the school district about $960 a year in property taxes. The bond issue would increase that amount to $1,092.

To see the whole picture on taxes, it must be realized that the total property tax burden of the above homeowner is currently $1,504 dollars a year. The tax proposed by the city will increase it to $1,657. The school bond issue would increase it to $1,769. The same property owner also pays the Greene County Career Center a little over $75 per year, and the County around $316. To repave our deteriorating side streets, voters will have to pass a bond issue to cover the estimated $30 million in costs. Moreover, every working resident currently pays 2.25% of their income to the city and the school district. Without any deductions, a family with annual income of $60,000 pays out $1,500 in income tax. If state and federal income taxes as well as sales and gasoline taxes are accounted for, the tax burden of voting tax payer is getting little too heavy for this deep recessionary period. We can all give thanks to the federal government for it too.

Xenia Deserves Better Schools Than Proposed By Issue 20

By Daniel Downs

I agree with the many of our city leaders that Xenia needs new schools, but not now. The fact is Ohio Schools Facilities Commission funding will still exist for school districts needing capital to build new schools. What will no longer be available is the huge pool dirty money ripped off from tobacco companies whose products clearly state that if you consume their products you might get cancer or some other related disease. I realize many people don’t care where or how the money was obtained by the state. However, when you build upon fraud and injustice, the oozing toxins of injustice eventually spread.

I also agree Xenia needs good teachers and school facilities so that students will be prepared for good paying jobs, but I have to wonder how many residents work at good paying jobs located in Xenia. Jobs paying less than $35,000 a year are not good paying jobs they are less than average. Almost two-thirds of Xenia residents have below average incomes, and a third are at or below poverty level. These people cannot afford more taxes, inflation, economic recession, or anything else that raises their cost of living.

If Issue 20 passes, Xenia taxpayers will be paying off a $79 million levy for 28 years. The author of a letter published in the Xenia Daily Gazette by the title “Give intelligent voters real facts in Xenia” noted that the high school is only 32 years old. Will administrators then decide that Xenia needs another new one in 30 years?

Besides feeling bullied by the fanatical school levy cheer leaders, the same author observed that the schools have not been properly maintained. But, how could the administrators show how badly the school district buildings need replaced if they had kept them in good repair? Just look at the school budget. It is very low, which suggests that school administrators planned for their deterioration and obsolescence. Additional proof of this is present by one of the Xenia’s well-paid official cheerleaders, who wrote that the permanent improvement levy of $400,000 a year has not been enough to keep Xenia’s 10 school buildings in good repair. Gee, I thought it was an addition to the then maintenance budget and not meant to be the only funding source for maintaining good and healthy school buildings for the benefit of all of Xenia’s children.

A more important concern is whether the $79 million will result in better education. Ohio law requires the building of small schools—like many small neighborhood schools—while at the same time permitting large schools that the law acknowledges are ineffective learning environments. Although many Xenia High School’s 900+ students demonstrate exceptional achievement levels, students in other schools like Warner are not doing so well. Maybe it’s because those schools have too many students to be effective. Surely, people do not believe children from middle- and low-income home are learning somehow deficient (dumb)? As proven by education research, small schools are key to student achievement. The plan to combine schools into even larger units will not produce better prepared students.

The Xenia School Facilities Plan (Issue 20) is about getting money and not what is best for Xenia’s kids or the future of the community. Xenia taxpayers and parents of school children should demand the best educational environment their tax dollars can buy. That is another reason why Xenia should not vote for Issue 20.

My research of the Xenia School Facilities Plan includes:
Future of Xenia Under One Roof?

Xenia Community Schools Rebuilding Plan: What I Learned at the Forum

Xenia Community Schools Rebuilding Plan: Why Small Schools Are Best

Xenia Community Schools Rebuilding Plan: It’s All About the Money

Future of Xenia Under One Roof?

The Xenia Community Schools Under One Roof (UOR) plan is an exciting new innovative concept. A campus combining existing community organizations like the YMCA, Senior Citizens Center, hospital, Athletes in Actions, and others sharing costs and resources is popular and unproven. For example, a hospital serves people from outside the community as well as local residents. Connected facilities increase the potential for our youth to be targets of unsuspected criminals. A previous writer raised concerns about post-9-11 requirements for enhanced security and UOR increases that need even more. The UOR model like the Lake Local School High School in Union Ohio is too new to know what problems may or may not occur with great confidence. It is also not likely those that already have occurred will be advertised.

Another issue that needs to be raised is why should high school students alone benefit from the UOR plan? Why not junior high and elementary students? I understand why only senior high students would benefit from a hospital-based medical training facility. An on-campus hospital would provide beneficial services to both athletes and the elderly. That’s all good, but shouldn’t other Xenia students also benefit from the YMCA, Athletes in Action, medical services, potential interaction the elderly, and from similar affiliations?

For the some reasons pro and con, go here.