In the direction of unity….

In the direction of unity…..

With the first day of school upon us in late August, we enter into the comfortable routines of a new school year.  Each year begins with the hope and prayer of a fresh beginning on both sides of the fence, teachers praying for well-behaved students and children fervently praying for “nice” teachers.

The new year also brings with it new employment contracts with our support staff and our teachers. Combine that with the technology plan being assembled and implemented, new buses for our children’s safety, a sustainable facilities maintenance plan, a tax break for our taxpayers, and our district is in an entirely different situation from recent years when wave after wave of levy campaigns sought to raise taxes.

Circumstances may change; however, if we maintain our fiscal conservative spending patterns and husband our resources wisely, no new taxes are projected.

My place at the table is to represent the community—the taxpayer, the landowner, the voter. My fiduciary duty is also to this institution.  It is important to remember I represent the voice of those who pay for our local schools. Tonight, we step forward for our teachers and our community. In doing so, we are demonstrating that as our voices come together we can write a single, better, unified story. It is not a story of the past, always disregarding the needs of the district. It is not a story of teachers and staff holding out for more. It is not a story of higher taxes (in fact, just the opposite). This is a story where everyone wins.

Although we occasionally may disagree with the means to an end, the final goal is the same for all involved: a better education for our children.

Through Children First Budgeting, zero based budgets, sound leadership, plans that prioritize educational needs, infrastructure and our staff, it is possible and now proven that we can live within our means. These phrases imply debt or sacrifice, but that is not the case. Not only have we proven that we can live within our means, but now every stakeholder in this district—our students and families, our staff and teachers, and our taxpayers–will benefit from this board’s leadership.

First, our students benefit as we direct funds to textbooks, curriculum, new buses, technology, and we dedicate attention to supports for college and career—STEM, PSEO, AP courses and more.

I have stated in that past and it is worth repeating, that it is impossible to educate a child without skilled teachers and staff and without giving them the tools to be successful. With these new contract agreements, every teacher, every staff member, every employee, every custodian, and every bus driver of the Springboro Community City Schools will be paid more. They will be rewarded for their skills and commitment to our schools and our children.

In any negotiation, especially collective bargaining, each party must at least be willing to move forward knowing neither of us will get everything we want.  I am willing to make the commitment to pay our teachers as they requested and they are willing to take reformative steps in their salary schedule and health benefits that respect the values of our entire community.

This agreement with our teachers must be more than a promise that sits on the shelf. The agreement to establish a merit / performance pay committee and diligently work with the health care committee, will dictate actions that demonstrate accountability by both sides. We all must strive with our best intentions to make sustainability the priority—to work within our current revenue rather than insist we need more.

The community can see after just 18 months that Children First Budgeting works. It is transparent and inclusive, and it drives our attention and resources toward investments in facilities, technology and teachers. It is most evident in the new contracts.

But what will be most evident to the taxpayer is lower taxes. Even after plans to invest millions in technology, curriculum, buildings and buses, and even after providing every employee with raises, we are financially prepared to give something back to the taxpayer – to give back to our community by reducing their tax burden. The renewal levy on the ballot in November will be set at a lower mileage rate to reduce taxes generated by that levy by nearly 15 percent.

This reduction of almost 15 percent is equal to $1,353,800 per year ($6,769,000 over 5 years) that we are giving back to our community. That’s right, every homeowner in the Springboro Community City School District will receive a raise just like our staff!  Children First Budgeting makes sense and today everyone wins.

Steven Covey says that, “What you do has far greater impact than what you say.” So now we put the words—spun in social media, exclaimed in online petitions, threatening as well as entreating, angry as well as earnest—behind us. We’ve emerged stronger than before.

Congratulations to our board, to our central office staff, to our teachers and students, and to our community. All sides were heard – and the outcome is fair to all sides. All have gained ground. And that success can only continue if we act in good faith to work together to put Children First.



9 Responses to In the direction of unity….

  1. sassypatriot says:

    Bravo to one and all. Greed didn’t seem to get in the way this time around. It is wonderful to learn of at least one school district that is putting the children first. High time this happens all over the nation. Congratulations Springboro.

  2. Facts vs Opinions says:

    Contrary to the opinions of some who protest “it takes more money” to educate our children, facts have now proven that it takes Good Stewardship of our money, ensuring a quality classroom education for all students, living within our children’s first budget framework, by adhering to responsible spending.
    During the past five years, Springboro parent Kelly Kohls has worked tirelessly throughout our neighborhoods and schools, educating Springboro voters “Yes We Can” afford financial fairness to both the SEA/SCEA union members, and the Springboro community of taxpayers (who generously support union members employed in our school district in a most excellent with distinction manner.)
    Last night for the first time ever, Springboro BOE President, Kelly Kohls, presented to the public, a contract with pay increases for teachers, and a renewal levy on the November ballot, with a tax reduction for every Springboro family!
    Thanks, Kelly!….. This Says It All!

    • School District Voter says:

      Unity or Conformity? Now that the honeymoon stage of celebrating the joining of the union’s demands to my personal bank account is over, buyer’s remorse is settling in on this taxpaying home owner. It is with great reluctance that today I wrote a check to mail in my property tax bill, but I am compelled to obey the man-made laws of government, that gives the teachers union collective rights, legally, to hold hostage our children’s education, emotionally blackmailing parents for more dollars. Springboro taxpayers do not have the money for legal fees to fight for our individual rights to own our own opinions on how much money we want to invest in the education business of the SEA. No one should be forced to pay tribute to a union in order to get or keep a job.
      To compel a man to furnish contributions of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tryannical. – Thomas Jefferson

    • Grateful in Springboro says:

      Although it was quite exciting to hear the good news of pay increases for our teachers and a renewal levy with no new taxes, for which I am most thankful, I do have questions as to the tax reduction offered. It is my understanding that this 15% “reduction” was necessary in order to present to voters a “renewal levy with no new taxes.” Based on changes made in the State Budget, which has now been signed, this means all levies on the November ballot will cost homeowners 12.5% increase; so to my understanding, that means that homeowners actually received only 1.5% reduction, not the full 15%. Again, I’m not a financial expert, just a grateful citizen. As a Springboro homeowner, I am grateful for this respect given to taxpayers by our Board members unanimous decision; and I do not believe that our union activists friends are justified in bringing up this pettiness in their complaints that this levy reduction is bringing harm to our well paid and qualified teaching staff. Working together, our BOE/SEA are facing many challenges for our children’s future. Of all the possible battles which will be faced together, does this fight against taxpayers’ 1.5% levy reduction really matter? Isn’t it time for our union activists friends to learn that fighting for their rights to have it all is harming their reputation as professional educators, and that could bring harm to their getting it all at the renewal levy polls in November. This hostility being shown to taxpayers is detracting from our teachers “best self” and really needs to be let go.

  3. Colleen Greissinger says:

    Yes, indeed. Congratulations to one and all. I will forward this success story to our Sycamore Community District leadership. Our PPE expenditure is twice what Springboro’s is and they want more, though achievement results are comparable in both Excellent W/Distinction schools.
    Colleen Greissinger

    • School District Voter says:

      Children First Budgeting plan works! But, only if the school district has a reform-minded majority of elected officials to work the successful plan. As a school district voter, I first heard of the children’s first budget plan at a community meeting of concerned citizens in Springboro, a few years ago. At that time, our board representatives were 4-1 tax and spend lovers, but in 2011, Springboro voters elected a children’s first budget majority; and it is amazing what has been accomplished in our school district in less than two years!
      It has taken our school district five failed levies and two election cycles to beat the forced unionism system, and we are winners! We now have our greatest challenges coming up in the November school board elections. School district voters get to decide if we choose to further our children’s first budgeting success, or re-instate the tax and spend plan of the failed 2011 school board candidates, who oppose our children first.

  4. Children and Teachers FIRST for a change says:

    Children and teachers should ALWAYS come first, not removal of transportation and sports to punish children and parents or low pay for teachers so that all the administration of the administration of the administration AND unions can be paid the money that SHOULD go to and for the children and teachers. Way to go Springboro BOE and let’s hope Lebanon, Ohio is watching and LEARNING.

  5. Boro's Finest says:

    We appreciate the job the School Board has done. As a teacher in the District, I feel it was only fair to pay just a little more in healthcare wages to secure my future, and more importantly, our kid’s future.

    Although this may not resonate well… but our salary, benefit and pension package is far superior to the average company employee that has no defined pension and pays a much higher portion of healthcare expenses.

    The “silent majority” of my fellow teachers agree, although we are not as vocal as the opposition.

    • School District Voter says:

      Boro’s Finest words are such an encouragement to those of us going door to door in our neighborhoods, educating Springboro to the truth that children’s first budgeting works in the best financial interest of all students, our school community of employees, and our community-wide taxpaying homeowners. Since more is caught than taught, your projected optimism speaks louder than words! Thank You.

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