Urges support for United bond issue
To the editor: I am writing to encourage my fellow citizens in the United school district to vote yes in support of the 3.92 mill bond issue on May 3. This is a unique opportunity for us to make a great investment in our community and our future. I moved back to our county in 1979 and searched for a rural community to raise a family. Well kept yards and homes, beautiful farms, picturesque scenery, and most of all a great school system is why I reside here.
I believe United has the best school system in Columbiana County. Two sons graduated from United and our daughter will graduate next month, all prepared to compete in a world market thanks to their United education. Hopefully other families will want to live in our district because United has a great school system. Sixty years ago the school was formed and built and 11 additions later the school is outdated and shot! Expensive and obsolete infrastructure, flat roofs, inefficient windows and old buildings will need replaced whether we pass this bond issue or not. The life of the proposed loan is for 37 years. We will spend as much maintaining an obsolete structure over 37 years as we will if we pass this bond issue. It is questionable if future funds or 79 percent of the costs to replace infrastructure will be available to help as they are now. I hate the waste and abuse of taxpayer funds especially at the federal and state levels. We elect local citizens to run our schools and we rely on their decisions and direction and they are unanimous in support of this venture ... United has been prudently run by our board of education, the administration, staff, and teachers. All dedicated to fiscal responsibility and budgetary restraints without turmoil and strikes. Our land and homes will retain more value in a good school district. We have an opportunity to make United an even greater school by keeping the structures built within the past 20 years and replacing the obsolete, old buildings built decades ago. We can lower future operating costs with energy efficiency and modern building design, of which 79 percent will be subsidized by tobacco lawsuit state funds.
This isn't a request for an extravagant, over the top school building. This is a legitimate request to modernize United with better classrooms, state of the art technology, and efficient infrastructure. But most of all this is a vote for our community, our children, our future, and the value of our properties and quality of our lives. Please join me in supporting this request by our school board and vote yes for United's future on May 3.
PETER C. JOHNSON JR., Hanover Township
Upset with apparent loss of Lisbon band
To the editor: I would like to express my deep sadness at the loss of the Lisbon band. I have just been informed that there will no longer be a class scheduled during the school day for band or choral for fifth through eighth graders.
Our band will never survive more than a few years if this schedule is continued. By only teaching band before or after normal school hours, it will force the band to compete with sports and all other activities. Our band struggles as things are - there is such a stigma with the band program coming from students and faculty that does not exist at other schools and which I cannot understand. If the band also has to compete for practice time, it will lose. The excuse is that the choral director is retiring and the school has decided not to replace her. The band director is taking over her duties and is very willing to keep his current band director duties with all current grades. The schedule should not be affected.
Why is there so much disrespect for this art in our school? We buy our infants Mozart and Bach CD's to "stimulate your baby's brain." They watch "Little Einsteins" when they are toddlers with classical music throughout the show. At my college, along with a psychology class, an English class, a history class, a music class was mandatory and in order to pass that class, every student had to go to the symphony four times. Music was as important as every other subject - no matter what your major. Music is an important part of a child's development. According to the American Music Conference, "Over the last decade, a series of new scientific studies have demonstrated a link between active music making - not just passive listening, but actually taking part - and increased brainpower. Young children who make music show improved spatial-temporal reasoning, which is the foundation of later success in math and science." Further, "students actually get better grades than students who don't take music." Why is our school system so quick to dismiss its importance? We are trying to keep our kids on an equal playing field with the rest of the country - isn't that why all the testing is done? Isn't that how we receive money from the state? How can killing our music program contribute to the success of our kids? Everyone else in the country sees the importance and has known for years, why doesn't Lisbon School? It is sad that some people believe that if you can't kick it, throw it or catch it that it is not valuable. We had so much support from our community for our trip this year - many local businesses contributed a total of $2,300! We would not have been able to go without them. I am asking for your support now. Please voice your opinion on this matter to school board members, faculty, newspapers, anyone who will listen. How sad would our school be without our Blue Pride!
MELANIE CHIDESTER, Lisbon
Passing bond issue would save UL money
To the editor: The Ohio Schools Facilities Commission assessed United Local's building in April of 2010.
Using the 2/3 rule, it was determined that 2/3 or more of the building that was constructed between 1951 and 1966 needed renovations. At that point the assessment determined that it is more economical and efficient to rebuild. If 2/3 of your home needed major renovations what would you do? Continue to make expensive repairs to an already aging home, or rebuild with efficient materials to make your home last longer? Now, suppose your "Uncle Sam" was willing to pay for 79 percent of your total cost to rebuild your home. United Local has been given the opportunity to rebuild the oldest parts of the current facility for 21 percent of the total cost. The state of Ohio will pay for the remaining 79 percent of the cost. The decision to put this issue on the ballot for a public decision was based on need. The need to keep up with technology, safety, energy efficiency and most importantly, the need to make sure that our district children are given a quality education. Is that not the job of our board? They understand the financial impact that this will have on district families. Therefore, great consideration was given as to whether or not to make this request of the United community. This is also why it was determined to spread the repayment of the bond over 37 years. The Ohio Schools Facility Commission determined many areas of the current facility to be critically deficient. United's heating, ventilation, and electrical systems topped the list. Add to that, the Brautigam Center, Vo-Ag classrooms, the modular unit, technology, interior lighting, and handicapped accessibility. Rounding out the list, there is also the issue of the flat roof, windows in the elementary and junior high schools, classroom doors, the boiler, steam traps and the security system.
If the issue doesn't pass, the repairs are still needed. We simply cannot say if the issue doesn't pass, we won't do the repairs. But now we have to pay 100 percent of an estimated $4 million over the next 10 years. Does it make sense to put $4 million into a building that is over 60 years old and educationally will still be inadequate? The $4 million figure is only for the next ten years. What problems or needs will come up in the following decade? So let's do the math
We know it will cost approximately $4 million over the next 10 years to correct the critically deficient areas. That works out to $400,000/year or $33,333/ month in cost. The bond issue is for $9.75 million over 37 years. That is $263,513/year or $21,959/month in cost. To vote yes for the issue will cost residents $11,373 less/month, or $1,364,760/year. This is a simple, non-emotional way to look at this issue. If given the choice to save moneywould you?
LISA BAILEY, Lisbon
Opposed to 'silencing' of Consumers' Council
To the editor: I am opposed to a section of the proposed state budget for fiscal year 2012-13. Specifically, the proposal that would silence the voice of our Consumers' Council which protects, defends and speaks on behalf Ohio's 4.5 million residential utility customers. At the same time, this budget proposal would enrich the electric, natural gas, water and telephone companies doing business in Ohio at our expense. By presenting a proposal that cuts the Ohio Consumers' Council's budget by 51 percent (from $8.5 million to $4.1 million), we the people of Ohio, stand to lose our advocate before the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO). The PUCO is the state agency that renders decisions in utility cases including rate hikes. In addition, the Consumers' Council represents residential utility customers' interests in state and federal courts and monitors utility companies' compliance with legislative and regulatory standards and orders.
Ohioans saved $54.8 million directly through the Councils efforts during the fiscal period 2010-11. This is not a budget issue, it is a representation issue. The proposed gutting of the Office of Consumers' Council will not save the state treasury 1 cent. The council is not supported by tax dollars, the state does not fund the council through its general fund. Rather the council is funded by fees assessed on the utility companies. So, if passed, we lose our representation, the state's budget deficit doesn't change, and the utility companies gain the money that should go to the Ohio Consumers' Council. We need to keep utility rates affordable. The work of the council is critical-especially in these hard economic times. We need a balanced playing field for Ohio's utility customers. We need a fully funded Ohio Consumers' Council to protect our interest. Please join me in opposing this non-monetary budget proposal by calling the governor's office at 614-644-4357 urging him to retain our representation.
JOSEPH T. FUNAI, Hanoverton
Another letter in support of bond issue
To the editor: The other day I drove by a "Vote 'NO' U - No 38 year tax!" sign in someone's front yard and it made me think and feel things that may not be appropriate to print. So I slept on it for a couple of days and decided to write this letter instead. Never mind that the tax is actually only 37 years. Never mind that this person didn't even go to United. Never mind that this person doesn't have any kids in the school district. I did go there. Many of my friends have kids that go there. And we all pay taxes in this community. So let's boil this thing down to the simple truth since most of us already know the facts. The truth is that if we don't pass this levy with a resounding "yes" vote, it will cost this community much, much more in taxes over the next 37 years just to repair and maintain the school. And it still won't be "up to scratch," because I don't think we can afford it anyway. It's not about a 37 year tax. It's about a 37 year investment. And United and this community need this. This school is for the most part 60 years old. The newer buildings would stay should we pull together and get this issue to pass, but all the old stuff would go. And it needs to go.
This 37 year investment is only 21 percent of the entire cost to build the new school. The other 79 percent comes from OSFC (Ohio School Facilities Commission, funded with money from the tobacco lawsuit). Bottom line? We end up paying $9.7 million over the next 37 years for a $38 million school if we vote: "yes." Otherwise we spend a lot more than that over the next 37 years and our school still won't be what it needs to be to give the next generation the opportunities they will need to carry the torch forward as future leaders of this community, of this great country, and in the world.
Now I know none of us are too keen to pay more taxes. But this would really be more like an investment in our community than a tax. If one looks at it as such, then it becomes an easier decision, does it not?
The return on this one would mean the future of this community. And that my friends, truly is priceless.
LUCIAN CLEWELL, Lisbon
Is this good stuff or what?
To the editor: Hold on to your wallets folks, the UFO thing may be about to be sidelined while we go through a frantic series of stories about how people have talked to Jesus. I saw an 11-year old-boy on TV, with his approving father by his side, tell very calmly about how he talked to Jesus, who was in a white robe, had piercing blue eyes, and a very warm smile. He has written a best seller about this encounter and it is on the New York Times best seller list.
I recall George w. Bush saying that he talked to God and soon after got us involved in the Iraq quagmire?
Let's hope our politicians don't pick up the scent or we will be hearing similar stories about how their beliefs have been validated by a personal talk with God. And if you just buy their book and vote for them America will rise again. I ask you folks, is this good stuff or what?
CHARLES OLIVER, New Waterford
School Boards Assoc. backing renewal levy
To the editor: The Ohio School Boards Association (OSBA) strongly encourages residents of the Salem City School District to vote for the upcoming renewal levy, because a "yes" vote won't cost you a dime more in taxes than you are currently paying. A few minutes of your time on election day can help ensure that Salem City Schools' 2,100 students have the resources needed to remain designated as "Excellent" on the state report card. The 4.3-mill renewal levy on the May 3 ballot represents the final phase of the original 2005 emergency levy request. It will generate $1.3 million annually for the district. Strong financial management by your school board and district administrators has allowed the school system to move out of state Fiscal Watch while increasing academic achievement. The district was recently recognized as "Best in Class" by the Ohio Smart Schools initiative for providing quality services at the lowest cost in non-instructional spending. Salem City Schools' high performance also has resulted in it being cited as a benchmark school district in Ohio in two of four fiscal management categories - maintenance and operations, and central administration.
In addition, the new online Quaker Tech Academy that was launched in 2010 now has more than 75 students working toward their high school graduation requirements. The district loses $5,700 in state revenue for every student who leaves for an online school, so the academy enables the district to hold onto more students. Schools and residents alike are struggling financially. That's why voting "YES" for a tax levy renewal that does not increase taxes is a win-win for everyone. I urge residents of the Salem City School District to vote for the renewal levy on May 3. It is a wise investment in your excellent schools and community.
JEFF CHAMBERS, Director of Communication Services, Ohio School Boards Association, Columbus
Consumers should be informed of rights
To the editor: Since were dealing with First Energy's light bulb program, I thought it would be an appropriate time to inform you, the public, of your rights as consumers. In the mid 1960s the Kennedy administration introduced the Consumer Bill of Rights. They were introduced to increase the rights of the consumer and protect them from unfair business practices. Included in the Consumer Bill of Right are six basic rights, two of which closely relate to our ongoing problem with First Energy. The first being The Right to Choose Freely: You as a consumer have the right to choose from a variety of products from a variety of companies, not just one. First Energy is not offering a variety of light bulbs; they are not giving you a choice, they are telling you have to purchase their product. The second, The Right to Service, you as the consumer have the right to convenience, to be treated with respect and courtesy, to awareness to problems and needs and to turn down any services offered. First Energy is also providing a service with their light bulbs; they will provide light in your home. As a consumer, you have the right to turn down the service. I am not a politician, nor do I work for the Ohio Public Utilities Commission. These people, your elected officials and the members of the PUC, should be educating the public about their rights as consumers.
RICK HANIGOSKY, McDonald