by Kim and Rick Donaldson

We firmly believe that providing a quality education for our children is of utmost importance to the community, and hence deserving of adequate public financial support. However, we also believe it is incumbent on our elected representatives

Kim and Rick Donaldson live in the Grailville neighborhood of Miami Township

and the administrators they hire to ensure that funding is used efficiently to provide a quality education for our children. So, even though we have supported school levies in the past, we will be voting against the bond issue and tax levies on November 5th. 

Here are our top 5 reasons:

Reason #5

When you are given a slick sales pitch and rushed to a decision, it’s usually a bad deal.  We were first made aware of the high cost of this levy in August, less than 3 months before the vote, by means of a slick postcard. At a mid-September community meeting, we were given a sales pitch claiming an urgent need to act now. We later learned that the board had hired a consultant to help them sell their plan. Caveat emptor!

Reason #4

It piles a laundry list of “wants” on top of a relatively small number of “needs” with no apparent regard for cost. The buildings most in need of repair, pre-K to grade 5, get just over half of the budget (52.4%). The remainder of the budget includes things like a $16M fine arts center at the high school, $10M turf athletic fields, an 8-lane track at the middle school … not exactly necessities in our opinion. The planning process does not appear to have seriously considered renovation as an option to address the real needs. We will not get a plan that addresses the school’s real needs within a reasonable budget unless we demand it.

Reason #3

Total funding growth has outpaced inflation by 21% from 2006 to 2018. The school board quoted a much lower growth rate in its 12 September presentation by focusing on 2016 through 2019, a period between levies. Now they are asking for another 26%, with a promise that they won’t come back for more for another 3 years. Unless inflation skyrockets in the interim, they’ll be on track to outpace it yet again. (Note: Total revenue includes federal and state revenue in addition to local property tax revenue, so it takes a 42% increase in school property tax to yield a 26% increase in total revenue, i.e. 16.78 mil = 42% school property tax = 26% total revenue.) This does not look like fiscal responsibility or accountability to us.

Reason #2

It’s bad for the community. Loveland’s school property tax is already high. According to the Ohio Department of Education data, our 2018 effective residential millage rate was higher than 85% of the districts in the state, including Indian Hill, Lakota, Mason, Milford & Sycamore. The additional 16.78 mil tax would move us above over 95% of the districts in the state, including Kings, Madeira & Wyoming. From a property value perspective, a 16.78 mil tax increase will cost an additional $48.94 per month on a $100,000 home. A prospective buyer would then have that much less to apply to a mortgage payment, which equates to having $10,251, or 10.3% less to spend. High taxes reduce home values and drive out businesses.

Reason #1

It’s bad for our children. More money does not necessarily mean a better education. A 2014 Cato Institute study showed Ohio SAT scores did not improve from 1972 to 2012 despite increasing inflation-adjusted per-pupil spending by 150%. Current Ohio public school comparisons show no correlation between spending and performance after correcting for the strongest factor, % disadvantaged students, which accounts for 71% of the differences among Ohio public school districts. Other studies, summarized by Professor Bruce Baker, show some positive impact of increased spending to reduce class size and/or increase teacher pay, primarily in poorer school districts where both were seriously deficient. Unfortunately, the proposed levy is focused on facilities, not teachers. Unnecessary facilities draw funding away from the classroom. To borrow a phrase from Margaret Thatcher: “… you eventually run out of other people’s money.”

One final thought: We believe that this levy and the manner in which it has been presented are indicative of unconscionable fiscal irresponsibility on the part of the school board and administration. Consequently, no current member of this board will ever again receive our vote. Since they are running unopposed on November 5th, we will leave the school board portion of our ballots blank in the hope that a low vote count will encourage more responsible members of the community to run next time around.

In the spirit of Dr. W. Edwards Deming, who said: “In God we trust, all others bring data”, we have posted a brief presentation of these points with supporting data and source references on Nextdoor.com.



EDITOR’S NOTE:

Read the official ballot language…

5 COMMENTS

  1. I think first, don’t look at a percentage. Actually look at how much extra that will cost you a month. If you go to the govt link the school provides you can find your home’s value and the exact amount it breaks down to for you. As the author notes it’s around 96$ for a $200,000 home. So unless you’re in a McMansion you’re paying around 1200$ more a year.

    You can easily confirm that better schools DO in fact increase home value because you can search the top schools in the area then look on Realtor.com and the home prices there. They noted Indian Hill, Madeira, Wyoming, Mariemont…look for the exact house you have in Loveland in those cities and see the difference in price.

    Loveland 4bed 2.5 Bath is going for around 250-300k, tack on another 100k if you look at any of the aforementioned locations…

    If you’re concerned about taxes then maybe ask the City Council how much RITA (a private company) takes from the collected income taxes for their services? Since they obviously aren’t funding new construction for schools maybe ask where all the tax money is going that we’re already paying. Property tax on my home is around $4200 a year. At least I’ll know where the extra $1200 a year I’m paying is going.

    Larger schools with more funding can also offer more programs that keep kids engaged…and not vandalizing your mailbox/property. Areas with better schools not only see increased home values but less crime (which also increases home values).

    Due to the number of mass shootings they also need the money to invest in safety measures to protect all the students. Yeah, sure, “not in my town” is what Sandyhook, etc all said before it happened to them. It’s never 20 dead in Miami, New York City, it’s always those little towns in between. So not only for educational purposes but for preservation of life they need the funds for improvements.

  2. I also think it is worth mentioning that one of the main reasons why this levy is high is that we live in an area without much industrial taxes, which is similar to communities like Madeira, Mariemont, and Wyoming. And, because the city is fairly land locked, it makes it tough for larger companies that could bring some tax relief to individual homeowners to make Loveland their home. While we all benefit from a wonderful, primarily residential community, it does mean that property owners do take on a higher tax burden than our neighbors in communities with more industry, such as Milford or Sycamore.

  3. I must admit that, like you, I was skeptical (and I was skeptical despite having children currently in Loveland schools that would benefit from these improvements as the personal price tag was startling). I was undecided, and have spent quite a bit of time researching both sides of this issue to form an educated opinion before we vote in November.

    I have looked into the facts, and just today attended a session with the superintendent to better understand the facts. I HIGHLY encourage people to attend one of these forums. Based on what I heard today, I want to share a few things to help inform you and others of the facts:

    (1). This levy DOES include funding to help attract and retain great teachers to the district. This does help with student education.

    (2). The fine arts center at the HS is in scope as they want to use the old fine arts portion to create more classrooms due to overcrowding.

    (3). Currently the middle school students are bused to the high school for track as the current track is unsafe. The restrooms at the middle school are port-a-potties, and the field turf will be under warranty and eliminates maintenance costs that a grass field requires.

    (4). In regards to inflation, I think it’s important to note that the majority of this levy is for creating buildings that will last decades, so I don’t think it’s a fair comparison to roll up decades-worth of investments into an average that only covers several years and compare to the inflation rate. Said another way, I think it’s best to compare the inflation rate for the time period that the buildings will be in existence to get a fair comparison.

    (5). This levy includes improvements for technology, labs, and career and college planning to meet the 21st century workplace expectations, along with getting the facilities up to code to accommodate all students (inc. those with disabilities). I believe those are the investments that will also help all students with their education.

  4. Kim and Rick,
    Thank you for a well thought out letter with excellent statistics. I agree that this levy is way too much money to ask of homeowners . I think that the school board, auditor and administrative staff should go back to the drawing board and come up with a levy that is reasonable and realistic. I’m all for public education but this levy is overboard

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