In the direction of balance

Balance can be seen on scales, in sports and on spreadsheets. There are times when balance is easy to see and define. There are times when we have to work to achieve balance. For example, in our own homes we try to find a perfect balance between work and family. Although we can define the ideal, we rarely meet it.

With the Board of Education race in Springboro this fall, voters will look for balance. Some will argue balance means putting opposing sides together on the board. But the picture of balance needs to be bigger than that. Board of Education members are elected to represent the community in the school district.

The board is elected to balance the interests of students, parents, taxpayers, and employees.  Many school boards lack balance because they are comprised of people with more allegiance to maintaining a specific establishment than to the greater cause.

In Springboro, balance has been restored. With a new administrative team, the Springboro school district has adopted a mission to “accelerate student achievement and support qualified staff with a balanced budget.” These are not empty words: they summarize actions. Together, we have achieved a balanced budget. We are on the right course, but it has not been easy.

With Educate Springboro, we brought changes that forced many to rethink long-held beliefs. Anytime the status quo changes, there is resistance. Panicked petitions and hysterical headlines have made things feel” out of balance. So now, there is a slate of three candidates that want to return to the past – which “felt” balanced.

However, today we can see just how far out of balance we actually were under the previous leadership. Some of the imbalances of the past include:

  • Capping high school class sizes in the 20s, while other grades who most need teacher attention, had larger class sizes (often up to 30).
  • Teaching the majority to meet the proficient standard (proficient is a OAA test score in 8th grade >40), while our district receives a “D” in gifted education and a “C” for our more challenged, lowest 20%.
  • Ignoring the changing curriculum and testing standards for students.
  • Charging higher pay-to-play and school fees than were necessary.
  • Failing to plan for technology in our classrooms and then spending resources on wireless technology that was inadequate and required replacement.
  • Ignoring recommendations to improve the rigor of our high school academic programs by failing to promote college credit options for our students.
  • Reacting to circumstances and spending more than budgeted instead of planning to invest and keeping up our buildings, grounds and bus fleet.
  • Assuming the only solution was higher taxes and hoping for a new levy to pass.

These are symptoms of the status quo controlling a school district that lost its balance.

If there was any balance at all in the past, it was an eye for an eye. As this community said no” to five new money levies, district leaders failed to find levy alternatives.  The status quo threatened the community with cuts. Thankfully, many of those leaders have left, but some now would like to return to sit on our school board. 

This year’s record is easy to defend because it consistently demonstrates investing in Children First. From replacing the District’s aging computers, buses, to implementing new curriculum and raising expectations with new standards, testing – we have progressed!

Why would we give control back to those who slowed this district’s progress? Those who inflated budget forecasts? Those who ignored the capital needs of the District? Most importantly, why would we elect the same people who neglected to put Children First in our schools?

The Children First budget is navigating us away from the repeated failures of the past. Now, working in open, public meetings, asking tough questions, hearing all voices, using performance data and striving to find a balance that supports teachers, our community is achieving the goal to put Children First in every decision.

Balance is about consistent, sustainable, forward-looking leadership. Educate Springboro sees the bigger picture and leads in the direction of balance for our children, schools and community.  We’ll continue to be the voice that stands up for parents and the community, examining past practices, and making tough decisions – whether it is providing technology, more services for gifted students, raises for employees, or even a tax rollback – To maintain balance for the benefit of everyone.

We hope you will share this good news with your friends and neighbors.

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7 Responses to In the direction of balance

  1. sassypatriot says:

    Priorities must be set by an unbiased school board. For years the unions have controlled every aspect of education. This is from the top with the Department of Education to the smallest districts in the nation. They are powerful and like most unions their membership and the NEA agenda is what is the top priority. Albert Shanker, for president of the American Federation of Teachers, said, “When students start paying union dues we’ll start thinking about their needs.” (From memory so might not be exact.) That was his message and that is the message of both the NEA, AFT, OEA and every state union. I hope the voters will pick a decent member for the board and not another “yes” man for the union and the SURE committee. (Same thing.)

  2. Children and Teachers FIRST for a change says:

    Springboro Schools are on the right track unlike Lebanon. Lebanon school district needs to awaken and make the children and teachers their top priority instead of all the administration “fluff” and union manipulation – with their constant “solution” being to have yet another tax levy so they can keep padding the pockets of more ADMIN positions and the union (and build more NEW buildings we don’t need). Lebanon’s FIRST solution to their mismanagement of money is to punish the children, parents, teachers and of course the tax payers. We would LOVE to have the current Springboro School Board move to Lebanon. SOS

  3. kelly948 says:

    Absolutely beautiful

  4. Grateful in Springboro says:

    Leaders are like eagles, they don’t flock together, you find them one at a time.
    -Unknown

    Hooray for Us! Springboro families and taxpaying homeowners are fortunate to have school board representatives, including David Petroni, whose leadership is like the wind beneath our wings, equipping our students classrooms with quality teachers and needed resources, inspiring our students first to soar higher in individual achievement; but never gathering students under their wings in protection, from the great and difficult challenges that most certainly lie ahead in our students’ future endeavors.
    Our biggest Thank You is still too little in words to express appreciation for all your hard work and sacrifice of time in voluntary service during months and months of committee work; but what else can be said in addition to Thank You, except those three little words that mean so much ….You Are Appreciated!

    You Are Appreciated!

  5. sassypatriot says:

    The truism is appreciated. Yes, true leaders are like eagles. They fly high above the fray and just get the job done. They are not in it for ulterior motives or to enrich themselves. They see a problem and work to fix it. Thank you Mr. Petroni for leading the way toward true accountability in at least one school district. Maybe more eagles will land in other school districts. We can only hope and pray. The future of our nation does depend on decent and honest people to lead the way.

  6. Thank you, Educate Springboro!

    “Being good is easy, what is difficult is being just.”
    -Victor Hugo

    • Springboro Taxpayer says:

      “Find out just what the people will submit to and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them.” -Frederick Douglass

      According to the November 14, 2013, edition of The Springboro Star Press, our board members elect campaigned for election to our school board to find out the exact amount of injustice and wrong that their power of elected office can impose upon Springboro taxpayers.
      For example: Mr. Anderson said he was excited about the opportunity to serve and hopes to bring his previous experience and business knowledge to the board; and that he would like to see the board become a member of OSBA again. Taxpayers can only wonder what business knowledge is this that wants to waste our school tax dollars on OSBA membership? Is it just because, traditionally, the board was a member of OSBA, during the 1996-2000 years of
      Mr. Anderson’s previous board service?
      Mr. Anderson said he chose to run because he wanted to give something back to the community (however, Mr. Anderson was against the reduced renewal levy–giving something back to the community–before he supported the unanimous vote of our current board members to give something back to the community). Why is that?
      Mr. Anderson also said he wanted to bring more balance to the students and their accomplishments and NOT the board. Taxpayers can only wonder why Mr. Anderson is not
      getting on board with our current board’s reform minded agenda of putting students first, instead of first wanting to re-instate status quo OSBA membership for the Board?
      A year ago, our district faced a sort of “perfect storm” with needs for everything from buses and books to technology and staffing coming to the surface at the same time. Through good management and some good fortune, our once rudderless ship emerged from that storm with clear leadership and direction. Clearly, there are still challenges, but we are moving in the direction of putting Children First. We are meeting and exceeding state mandates as well as local expectations. We are building a technology backbone, investing in computers, curriculum, buses and buildings — we are putting children first. Most important, we are being honest about what is needed through 2017. This is reform at the local level, and this is working together toward sustainability.
      All this has been accomplished in less than two years by our current board members and school district leaders, AND without status quo membership in the OSBA. Taxpayers would ask Mr. Anderson why our board should even consider wasting our school tax dollars on OSBA membership, when there is absolutely no evidence of any membership benefit to our school children and community.

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