(Editor’s Note: This is a commentary on West Clermont Schools by community member John McGraw. The piece is published in its entirety, with only two small spelling and formatting changes. If you have an article you wish to publish, please send to firstname.lastname@example.org)
On November 6th, West Clermont voters overwhelmingly voted down the operating levy placed on the ballot by the West Clermont School Board. Einstein’s definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results. The definition of foolishness is not knowing the definition of insanity. I am very disappointed for the children of the district and for my own kids who attend West Clermont Schools.
We have lost our sense of community and the school board has lost touch with the citizens of West Clermont. I am a member of the Willowville PTO. We have to meet at restaurants because the board won’t open the school in the evening despite the fact that the PTO funds many programs the school board won’t. The school board has failed to put together a financial package that voters will support and they keep rolling out the same stale solutions. We now face a 2.3 million dollar deficit this year alone.
When you have a losing team it’s time to fire the coach. Superintendent Brooks and Treasurer Alana Cropper should resign. Collectively they earn nearly $300,000 per year in salary yet they have failed to put together a winning strategy for our schools. We are now on the path to fiscal emergency.
We need a comprehensive “all of the above” approach to repairing ties with the community and coming up with an affordable dollar amount the community will support. We need open and good faith discussions with the community to come up with a solution. Some voters’ ideas include:
- Have round table discussions with those who did not support the levy and incorporate their concerns into solvable action.
- Enlist the help of State Legislators starting with newly elected Representative John Becker. Our school funding method is broken and the state needs to address this.
- Repeal the inside millage the board moved without consent of the voters. This move angered voters and has been a large reason the last 2 Tax Levies have been voted down.
- 73 percent of the budget goes to salaries and benefits. Ask all administrators to take a 2-3 percent wage cut to show they are serious about putting the children first.
- Ask for a voluntary pay concession from the teachers. They may agree to less pay rather than see more teachers lose their jobs.
- Follow the lead of private schools like McNicholas and start fund-raising plans to get additional funds for athletics, music and art programs. Enlist corporate funds and sponsorships to help with fund-raising. The Willowville PTO raises thousands of dollars to fund special programs. We need more of this.
- Close and consolidate older buildings.
The most important thing we need to do is build a sense of community. Our residents need to be recognized as stake holders in the schools. After all, we owe it to our children as well as our community to come together and solve this issue. Please attend your next school board meeting and let your voice be heard.