The Crossroad: Which Road?

196 posts in this topic

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It's always a matter of balance. Before 1975 there was no special education program requirement so a large minority of students had no access to public education. This was unfair and that's why IDEA was established.

Remember, too, that a learning disablility can be different from a physical or mental disability. You can find a number of sites that explain the process that leads to a student receiving special services. An ADHD student, for example, will qualify for special education students only if it negatively affects his school work. An ADHD student would receive no services if his grades are good without intervention. Complicated? Expensive? You bet.

That's the pressure on this district: provide the educational opportunies for our mainstream students AND provide the educational opportunities for a growing number of students with special needs who have a right to access public education while trying to do it with declining dollars.

We cannot fix this system in our district. We can discuss, but we have to continue to provide what we can for ALL students. That's why I support levies even though I would prefer a different funding system.

And with all due respect, teacher associations support education for ALL students not any one particular group. They don't oppose positive change. They oppose those policies and changes that damage the educational opportunities for ALL students.

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the schools often push for "mainstreaming" kids into regular classrooms because its cheaper

we have doubled education expenditures since the 70's (adjusted for inflation) and have seen no noticeable improvement.  Something is fundamentally wrong.

Husmanta,

I can not believe you posted this.

Schools don't push for mainstreaming, Federal Law does. IDEA passed back in the 1980's. The issue is that it requires all of the additional aids, paperwork, meetings, being held responsible for kids (the really tough cases you mention) that have NEVER, EVER been inside one of our buildings (let alone mainstreamed) and we are responsible for their education until they are the age of 22. And for that we have NEVER received HALF of what the Federal Government said they would pay per IDEA in any one year. (Tops 18% of the supposed 40%, tops in one year). Oh, and for my friend Hayden...that money comes through the State.

Last year alone, that amounted to a deficiency of $1.5 Million vs. actual costs....required costs, not something we can do anything about. That's $1.5 Million = 3 Voted MILS that you and I pay for out of our property tax to make up the difference. Our Disabled population has always been higher than the local norm. So after 21 years of holding "the tab", it's a lot of money.

Have we been screaming about it? You bet. Have we had Republican Congressman to the school. Have we had Democratic Congressmen to the school.

Both parties (pardon me) suck at doing what they said they were going to do. It's in the legislation, they allocate it....they just don't fund it. It's a shame.

Is it cheaper....no. In a word.

And now the next statement. "Doubled education expenditure since the 70's"

How much is your house worth? How much was it worth 20 years ago? Dusty Rhodes says mine is worth 2 1/2 times what I bought for in 1983. What were you paying for gasoline in 1980, it goes on and on. EVERYTHING HAS DOUBLED. How am I supposed to adjust a teacher for inflation ???? How many additional folks are we required to have that we didn't have in the 1970's. I mean really......think about it. I'm sorry, everything was NOT GREAT back in the 70's.

NO NOTICEABLE IMPROVEMENT? The curriculum and kids being taught TODAY are nothing like the 70's, 80's or 90's. Further, we were on Academic Watch at the beginning of this decade and we have made HUGE strides. Are we where we WANT to be, No. Do we have a plan to get there, yes. Does much of it have anything to do with how we did it in the 1970's....please.

Husmanta, you can do better. That post was fundamentally wrong. I'm sorry to take you to task.

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Posted · Report post

WWW, I respect your opinions, but I think perhaps you are being a bit defensive because you seem to assume any comment I make is directed at Winton Woods. Sometimes I comment specifically about local matters, but since I have no personal experience in the schools here, I more often discuss issues in a more general sense.

My comment about mainstreaming is based on first-hand personal family experience (not in Winton Woods, nor even in Ohio) and I stand by it. I have seen a student with severe mental illness placed in a mainstream class over the objection of the family with terrible results. Does this mean it happens at Winton Woods? I expressed no opinion on that. In fact, I think I was making the point that providing for these kids is hugely expensive and that those costs should not be counted against a public school that must provide them.

I'm also not sure I'm following your point about inflation. Whether something costs double now as compared to the 70s and whether something costs double now after adjusting for inflation are two very different things. You look at this from the standpoint of all the various difficulties and challenges you face in this district, which is fair enough. But on the average, and in the aggregate, does it really need to cost twice as much now, adjusted for inflation, to educate our children as it once did? If this corresponded with an explosion of progress in U.S. education, then maybe, but that does not seem to be the case.

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Look at expenses another way. I visited the WWHS website and checked that there are 18 special education teachers in that building. That's 18 salaries, benefits packages, retirement accounts. In 1976 there were zero. Extrapolate that district wide and you can see where a big chunk of that money goes.

Do we need these teachers? You bet we do. The district has to educate ALL students and we can never get to excellence without them.

That's why we can never compare our past experiences in school with today. It is very, very different and the challenges are very, very different. At the high there are 8 math teachers, 9 social studies teachers, 9 science teachers, and 9 English teachers. Compare that to the 18 special education teachers. It is different.

If the general public really took the time, they would understand. WWWarrior and others are really advocating for OUR children. They need our support, not Death by Second-Guess.

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But I'm not talking about Winton Woods expenditures, I'm talking about all expenditures at all levels of government for whatever purpose as it relates to education. I don't think it's second guessing to wonder what we've gotten as a nation for our hundreds of billions of dollars of additional spending.

I think your point is more about district-level issues and whether the district itself is justified in spending what it does. This is a related, but also largely separate issue.

If, for example, the federal government mandated that each school spend $100,000 to research whether the color of the paint on the walls was most conducive to learning, Winton Woods' costs would go up. This wouldn't be a reflection on Winton Woods, but it would be a reflection on US education taken as a whole. When looking at US education taken as a whole, here is what I see:

http://mjperry.blogspot.com/2009/09/educat...d-stagnant.html

I don't expect the Winton Woods school district, or its employees, to be the defenders of the entire apparatus of the federal, state, and local educational systems, agencies, statutory/regulatory schemes, and unions. In fact, I have frequently seen posts on here griping about state-level mandates on local school districts.

I have acknowledged, twice now, that special education costs can be immense, but I am also doubtful that they are the sole, or even primary, driver of increased education costs nationally. On this point I am open to a continuing discussion as I think that caring for and educating the truly disabled should be non-negotiable.

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And let's not forget the new added costs of educating people from other countries. Don't know if anyone caught this, but this year Lebanon schools dropped 3 levels from "Excellence with Distinction" to "Continuous Improvement" because of 2 small groups of students who did not do well at all - ESL students (109 students) and Hispanics (154 students). Don't know if these two categories overlap at all, but, even if they don't, 5% of the population dropped the district 3 levels despite having met 29 of 30 state indicators. With all of the special groups who require a disproportionate share of the resources, we are placing a HUGE burden on our schools

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Last year alone, that amounted to a deficiency of $1.5 Million vs. actual costs....required costs, not something we can do anything about.   That's $1.5 Million = 3 Voted MILS that you and I pay for out of our property tax to make up the difference.

___________________________________________________

And now the next statement.   "Doubled education expenditure since the 70's"

How much is your house worth?  How much was it worth 20 years ago?  Dusty Rhodes says mine is worth 2 1/2 times what I bought for in 1983.  .

Your first paragraph is exactly the kind of information that people need to know.

As I pointed out, the average Special Ed student cost about 15K , and the rest of the students average cost about 10.8K in 06-07, but your info shows what kind of deficiency that causes our district for last year. These detailed costs should be available on the district web site. (I am a bookkeeper for a nonprofit , and all specific costs are available to all givers.)I don't care if the money comes from the state or through the state from the fed, I think all funds and costs should be visible and detailed on the financial statements.

You are correct about real estate values over the last 20 years. (until recently).The values have grown way more than inflation, so your property taxes have also. More than 1/2 of my tax bill is for the schools.

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All I am trying to point out ,with all the research I did yesterday, is that the work sheets for ODE seem to show that when all the costs of all the special instruction are accounted for, we have still been spending at least as much as the average Ohio district on the rest of the students. So, with less students, and fewer buildings, and with high unemployment, it doesn't seem fair to ask for higher property taxes.

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WWW, I respect your opinions, but I think perhaps you are being a bit defensive because you seem to assume any comment I make is directed at Winton Woods.

If I misunderstood your intent (gosh, that never happens to me here blink.gif ) then I apologize. You kind of started off your post talking about our 18%, I thought that's where you were going.

However, whether you are about the microcosm level at Winton Woods or the Macro nationally, the realities are the realities. If I come off defensive it is because we get castigated by some for spending too much and uncomfortably placing ourselves between those who are least able to defend themselves as scapegoats as the reason. We will educate, each child, to their fullest potential, the caveat(for 1 in 5 students) is "and do it as the Federal government tells us to do it and spend the limited and inadequate funds they provide, only as they require us to spend and nothing else" If it's not enough, well it comes out of our (yours and my) pocket.

I do think we can find common ground in saying that I have no idea what the US Dept. of Education does for or with their monies. Frankly, it's pretty easy to say that about a bunch different Federal entities. Legislation comes through Congress (and our State Legislature) and they don't seem to be able to pass new regulations on schools that come attached with any funding. Again, who's left holding the tab?

So, beyond the $1.5 Million per year shortfall of IDEA funding

The State decides to NOT add any new money to the formula for 7 years running.

Tangible Business Personal Property Tax Eliminated (A $2 Million hit to us, gone since 2006)

Funds Going to Charter Schools (mostly extremely poor performing Charter Schools. (Up by about $1 Million since the last levy)

Jarrod's Law Regs $$$ (then repeal most of it after we complied)

Full Day Kindergarten $$$

Expanded Testing and Paperwork $$$$$

All since the last levy.... Frustrating.

The residents of Greenhills, Forest Park and Springfield Twsp. have been generous in supporting the public schools in passing five levies since 1976. These are our kids and the calvary is not riding in from Columbus or Washington to help anytime soon.

Let's not shoot ourselves in the foot.

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If I misunderstood your intent (gosh, that never happens to me here blink.gif ) then I apologize. You kind of started off your post talking about our 18%, I thought that's where you were going.

No worries Warrior, until they invent tone-of-voice fonts we will all misread each other from time to time. My 18% comment was more of an aside than anything - it is a surprisingly high number suggesting either a very broad definition of disabled, or an unusual concentration of disabled students in the district. My guess is that a smaller percentage are truly disabled in the way most lay people think of the term, where the remainder are disadvanted somehow by socio-economic issues or behavior issues, but not really disabled in the way most people would think of the term.

I'm sure many people don't have an appreciation for what a specialized and expensive proposition it can be to educate the severely disabled. As you point out, this is mandated. When assessing public school costs, I think these costs need to be largely taken out of the equation since it is really a completely different ball game. At the same time, I'm not convinced that this is the only thing driving cost issues.

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Posted · Report post

Our Disabled population has always been higher than the local norm.

Why is this so?

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Posted · Report post

the cavalry isn't coming either. cool.gif

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Why is this so?

Jed,

There is no one answer. Historically, the District has been known to have really good people working in this area. However, I feel that there is a direct corelation between that percentage and the percentage attributed to Economically Disadvantaged. Unfortunately, that percentage has grown.

While abuse of the system by some plays a small role, testing and assessment has gotten tougher over the years to cut down on that.

At one time, we were getting a influx of students out of Cincinnati Public who seemed to want to ID every kid with an IEP. Once an IEP is established, it usually sticks.

Some kids have minor learning disabilities. The problem is that all have to follow the protocol of meetings with parents, documentation, this, that and the other. If there are discpline issues or physical issues then you have more of that.

It's all driven by the Federal IDEA legislation. It is time consuming, expensive, eats up a TON of staff time. And in times of "cut back" as we have been doing for the last five years, you end up having Curriculum Directors trying to focus staff development and handling a caseload of 350 IEP students. That's not good.

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However, I feel that there is a direct corelation between that percentage and the percentage attributed to Economically Disadvantaged.  Unfortunately, that percentage has grown.

Is our distict really that economically disadvantaged? According to City Data.com, Forest Park(the largest community in the district I believe) is above the Ohio average for median household income and per capita income. "Income below poverty level" is also well below average for Ohio.

http://www.city-data.com/city/Forest-Park-Ohio.html

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The district is NOT economically disadvantaged, but the number within the district who are economically disadvantaged is growing. That is a growing problem the district is dealing with. How does this district provide for non-economically disadvantaged students as well as the economically disadvantaged and the growing numbers of students with special needs? Taking all of these factors into consideration, an objective person can see that the district faces challenges it has never had before and is dealing with them with ever-decreasing revenue.

The issues are real and complex and cannot be summed up in a quick and easy way. This is what this, or any, board has to deal with in our school district. The decisions they must make are difficult and the outcomes are often less than satisfying. If the general public took the bigger view of what the challenges are they would understand the need to support the school district.

The board is made up of ordinary people dealing with complex issues and should be commended, or at least tolerated, for their efforts and not blamed for conditions outside of their control.

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"The board is made up of ordinary people dealing with complex issues and should be commended, or at least tolerated, for their efforts"

Good point, and please know that I know there are many other's as well. It's just that...

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Posted · Report post

Can you answer my question?

Is that the road you want to go down?

You never did answer my question.

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The road I want is the one that provides equal opportunity for all students in Winton Woods. I want for them to have what we had growing up. I want them to be equipped at the beginning of their lives for the challenges they will face for the rest of their lives. I want deep and broad access to education so that they may have greater possibilities before them than we ever had. I want the child in the worst personal circumstances to have the same access as the child from the best personal circumstances. I want them to be able to use their brains for the best that America has to offer. America is a great place and I want our nation to benefit from the brains that all Americans have for the betterment of all Americans.

Are we going to quibble about 7.95 mils when so much is at stake?

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You never did answer my question.

The difference between you and Hayden is that "you're the driver", he's just a passenger like the rest of us. And, you want him to give you gas money so you can take him somewhere he doesn't want to go.

The question is "is this the road you want to go down"? I would hope the answer is "no", but the school Board's unwillingness to consider what the taxpayers have to say and the lack of "thoughtful" action, suggests otherwise.

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WWW,I don't believe increasing property taxes in these towns to give more money to WWCS will change the direction you all are taking us. (Everyone I talk to is having to deal with less income.) Higher taxes hurt the poor the most.

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So far, this district has produced one school that is EXCELLENT according to the standards many use to measure success. This came POST-reconfiguration. Was this just an accident? Would being able to walk to school have made this happen?

This district is improving from where it began when this whole rating process began. This district is really moving forward. Their reward is failed levies.

Complain all you want about the board, the perception is that the communities don't really support the students. That's the perception of teachers, students and parents. Like it or not, that's what they think. Not the board, the communities.

WWWarrior and others have tried very hard to explain the difficulties that face this district and many choose to ignore these realities. You can't provide quality education on the cheap. You can't educate EVERY student and do it cheaply.

On one hand the communities demand 'excellence' and on the other hand they willingly withhold the resources necessary to do it. That creates a self-fulfilling prophecy of failure.

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Complain all you want about the board, the perception is that the communities don't really support the students. That's the perception of teachers, students and parents. Like it or not, that's what they think. Not the board, the communities.

And what you guys think of the taxpayers really doesn't matter, however the opposite perception, what the taxpayers feel about the Board and the district, does have a financial impact to the district. So yes, people can complain all they want and frankly no one has to listen, but don't expect anything in return if those complaints aren't validated and met with an acceptable solution.

This district is really moving forward. Their reward is failed levies.

As for this statement, it simply does not serve the district well. It's misguided and places blame on the taxpayer, while removing accountability from the Board and district.

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This district is improving from where it began when this whole rating process began. This district is really moving forward.

from what point are you measuring that? Pre-configuration? I would love to see the numbers that show this dramatic improvement. It would be a lot easier to pass a levy if these numbers were available and made public.

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WWW,I don't believe increasing property taxes in these towns to give more money to WWCS will change the direction you all are taking us. (Everyone I talk to is having to deal with less income.) Higher taxes hurt the poor the most.

But doesn't this comment that you have made contradict this notion that I have also heard that goes along the lines of...

"I'd pay even higher taxes if we could go back to community schools".

Unwittingly, you are making the case for the reconfiguration. It was done to save money.

Hard to please both camps.

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Equlaizer, if you ever took the time to read Hayden's posts, you would know that he does not want to pay more taxes to any school. The idea that we would pay more taxes to a community school is as absurd as the fact that you think he is ever going to respond to you, which Might I add, he said he would never do again.

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