by Kim and Rick Donaldson
While many in Loveland are losing their jobs and their businesses, our school board persists in asking us to raise our taxes. As it stands today, they may very well get their way simply by virtue of low voter turnout. So, if you
Kim and Rick Donaldson live on Paxton Road in Miami Township
haven’t already done so, apply for an absentee ballot now. The primary election originally scheduled for March 17th is now by mail only. Completed ballots must be postmarked no later than midnight, April 27th or dropped off at your county board of elections by 7:00 PM April 28th. Since you will first need to apply to have a ballot mailed to you, there is no time to lose.
Now back to the original question: should our school taxes be increased? We are told that additional funding is needed to “protect our progress”. This would imply that past increases have improved district performance. However, according to Ohio Department of Education data, Loveland’s overall performance index score ranked in the top 15% of Ohio schools from 2010 through 2014, with correspondingly high overall grades. In 2015, Loveland’s performance dropped precipitously, nearly to the bottom 25%. Various explanations have been floated for this drop: Common Core implementation, testing changes, students opting out of testing, etc. Available data do not definitively show what the explanation is, but it does show what it isn’t: spending. Referring to the first chart, note that Loveland’s 2019 overall performance is virtually identical to its 2010 to 2014 performance, but expenditure per pupil is as much as 20% higher after adjusting for inflation. Also note that Loveland’s performance had already recovered to pre-2015 levels by 2018, before the big ramp-up in expenditure.
Since increased funding doesn’t seem to be improving our district’s rating, it is difficult to see exactly what progress we are protecting. Moreover, if we are to invest more of our hard-earned and increasingly scarce money in the schools, we expect to reap some benefit as a community. So far, our children don’t seem to have reaped the benefit of a better education and our property owners haven’t reaped the benefit of the appreciation that should result from a better-rated school system. However, there is one segment of the community who has reaped the benefit: teachers.
According to Ohio Department of Education data, presented in the second chart, Loveland’s average teacher salary was $63,566 in 2010, which was about average for an Ohio school district with similar demographics among both the community and the teachers. In 2019, Loveland’s average teacher salary had increased to $78,248, 10% above the comparable Ohio district average. Loveland’s average teacher salary has also risen faster than median income. In 2010, the average teacher salary was 28% above median income. By 2019 it had risen to 47% above median income. While some might argue that paying teachers more improves educational quality, Loveland’s teacher salary and performance trends do not support that claim. Statistical analysis of statewide trends also shows no practical benefit for paying teachers above-market salaries.
We do not question the quality, dedication or professionalism of Loveland teachers. Nor do we fault them for negotiating the most favorable compensation package they can. It is the responsibility of the board of education and administration to negotiate effectively on behalf of the Loveland community at large to deliver a high-quality education at a cost we can afford. Sadly, they do not seem to be doing an adequate job of cost control at a time when residents cannot afford to pay more.
While no one knows how severe the current economic downturn will be or how long it will last, we do know the proposed levy will cost property owners an additional $20 per month for each $100,000 of appraised value, forever. Under the circumstances, it would be appropriate for the Loveland School Board to withdraw the levy, and we wholeheartedly agree with those who have already called on them to do so. However, the board’s past behavior indicates they are unlikely to heed those calls. The only way we can stop this levy and impose fiscally responsibility is to get an absentee ballot and vote no.
- Elections and Voting in Ohio, Ohio Secretary of State website: https://www.sos.state.oh.us/elections/voters
- Ohio Department of Education District Profile (Cupp) Reports: http://education.ohio.gov/Topics/Finance-and-Funding/School-Payment-Reports/District-Profile-Reports
- Ohio Department of Education District Achievement/Rating Data: https://reportcard.education.ohio.gov/download
- US Bureau of Labor Statistics CPI Inflation Calculator:
- Ohio Department of Education District Teacher Information: https://reportcard.education.ohio.gov/download