Thoughts on schools like West Branch and taxation

I am thankful to have this opportunity to add a few thoughts to the recent information provided regarding the upcoming ballot initiative impacting West Branch schools.

Before those of you who have no dog in this fight move on to another story, my comments relate to everyone who will need to decide at some point whether to support your schools through additional taxation.

First, an issue this import has no place being decided by a primary/special election where the turnout is likely to be low. The community spoke in November. By a two-to-one margin the community rejected an income tax. Trying to sneak this tax through during a primary election should anger the voters such that they reject it with an even greater margin. Let us not become complacent and forget to cast our vote such that a few voters speak for all of us.

As most of you know, after the last election defeat, the board of education made a few cuts. Cutting back on busing should have been the very last resort. They were punishing the community with the most painful method they had at their disposal. Let me give you an example of just one alternative cut that could have been implemented.

I found over 100 coaching and extracurricular supplemental contracts going to 57 individuals totaling over $340,000 and that does not include any additional costs incurred by these activities. That is not to say that these activities have no value. But should they rise above busing in importance as to the mission of the school? Should not doing whatever can be done to ensure the students get to the classroom be more important?

A recent newspaper article reported school treasurer David Drawl saying the state minimum busing has provided an estimated savings of $150,738.03 in the 105 days it was enacted. The school year is 180 days. That would provide approximately $250,000 in savings — far less than the $340,000 the district spends on extracurricular staffing. The question the board of education should have asked: are these extracurriculars more important than busing students to school?

I found these statistics in the Buckeye Institute website, an independent research and educational think tank that provides public employee salary information to the public. While these numbers are from 2015, I’ll bet they are representative of the current figures.

Before the last ballot issue, I was critical of the education system failing to adequately teach students the basics of reading, writing, arithmetic and perhaps most importantly civics. This criticism ignited a few scathing responses stating that teachers do not have the latitude to teach those topics. The curriculum is dictated from the education bureaucracy. Well to that I have just one thing to say. It is these big government, top down, dictatorial politicians that have enacted this system. The very politicians and political ideology that most teachers and all teachers unions support both financially and through the ballot box.

This brings me to my last comment on the purposed levy. The teacher’s unions are little more than a destructive force to the quality of education that we receive for our tax dollars. They funnel our hard-earned money to leftist politicians who are attempting to dismantle and destroy the American way of life. The taxpayer has little power over this laundering of money to causes that are contrary to our beliefs. Perhaps our only option is to starve the beast. Refuse to give school districts more money until they end the political activities of the teacher’s unions.

While I am not so naive as to think that it is within the power of boards of education and administrators to stop this, the teachers themselves can implement this change. Sending them a message that they will get no more tax dollars, and perhaps no more raises, until this is enacted, might just convince them to restrict their efforts to teaching kids and curtail their political activism.

Please don’t take these comments as a belief that all teachers are overpaid. As with all collective bargaining environments, some teachers are overpaid while others are underpaid.

The “collective” in the term collective bargaining removes merit, productivity, and results from the compensation equation. Your tax dollars could just as easily be going to the incompetent teacher when they should going to increasing the pay of the excellent teacher. Another little gift coming our way thanks to the teacher’s unions.

Is it not the responsibility of the board of education and administration to provide the best educational opportunities to the community using the resources they have available? There are better options when money is tight than to make it difficult for the students to get to school. Once again turning down this levy will go a long way towards sending the message that making punitive cuts will not endear their cause to the voting public.

Area resident Jack Loesch is a longtime teacher at the University of Akron whose columns appear periodically in the Salem News. Read his website at www.TorchnFork.info. He may be reached at: TorchNFork@frontier.com

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