by Trenna Sowder
Have you read headlines like these before: “Man tries to hug wild bear and look at what happens next!” or “16 celebrities who ruined their faces with plastic surgery!”
We’ve all seen those crazy eye-catching headlines and maybe even clicked on them from time to time. Who can resist? They are “clickbait.” Merriam Webster says clickbait is something designed to make readers want to click on a headline, especially when it leads to content of dubious value. And some clickbait is very effective — you read it, click it and get drawn into the article that you are hoping just has to be true! But…sometimes the article behind the clickbait is, well, dubious. Or, at least lacking necessary context.
Here are some more examples of clickbait a little closer to home
● Loveland Schools administrator salaries increase 14% in a year (while the average US worker’s pay barely rises)!
● Loveland Schools hired 16 administrators in 6 years (while hundreds of children flee the district!)
Wow! Seriously? Could those statements possibly be true?
Let’s dig into those headlines and also get to the reason you started reading this article: the eye-catching headline promising amazing facts about our school district! First, let’s address the school levy clickbait examples:
1. Administrator Salaries: Salaries for Loveland administrators in the same positions increased an average of only 1% from the 2017/18 to the 2018/19 school year. Now, that seems much more reasonable. Can you imagine if the district was actually giving its administrators 14% raises? We’d have a line of applicants all the way out to I-275!
2. Number of Administrators: Loveland has had a net increase of 3 administrators since 2014 (the time of the last levy). And, with the position elimination announced in January 2020, the district will be at a net increase of only 1 administrator at the start of the school year this fall. In fact, Loveland currently has just 6.1 administrators per 1,000 students, almost 3 fewer than the state average of 8.92 administrators per 1,000 students.
3. Enrollment: As for enrollment, Loveland’s enrollment has been largely flat, down 38 students since the 2010/2011 school year, but not the hundreds suggested by some. Even with flat enrollment, operating funds are still needed. In Ohio, the money that districts receive from school levies does not increase with inflation or as costs rise. (Ohio House Bill 920) The price of things like technology, security and insurance all rise, but levy funding remains flat. The only way a district can increase funds from levies is by periodically going to voters.
For those of you that have been following levy discussions on social media or newspapers or perhaps you received a flier from the group opposing the levy, here are some other topics you might be wondering about:
4. Spending: Spending has increased since 2014 by design. With the 2014 levy, the district committed to improving programming, especially in the critical areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). It’s made significant progress and now it’s shifting into sustaining and optimizing its achievements in order to maintain the outcomes. The current forecast projects limiting average annual expense growth to 2.67% for fiscal year ending 2019 through the end of fiscal year 2024. (I don’t know about you, but I think my family’s cable and cell phone bills increase by more than that each month!)
5. Expenditures in fiscal year 2018-2019 were higher than other years – for good reason. The total spending year over year increase from 2017/18 to 2018/19 was 8% which was higher than the prior year increases. (See Five Year Forecast) All of the details on why there was a blip in expenditures can be found on the FAQ section at www.YesForLoveland.com. Some of the highlights include: costs for materials that were deferred from the prior school year, health insurance premiums increased 10% (after three consecutive years of no increase) and execution of technology enhancements directly benefiting students. Just like in our own household budgets, some years we have to spend more either because of things we can’t control, like a medical emergency or things we plan for, like paying for a child’s college.
6. Loveland stretches its dollars! Currently the Loveland per student general fund expenses is 2.7% lower than the state average across 608 districts. By 2024, that gap will have more than doubled to 6.3%, spending $1000 less per student than the state average!
And for any of you who just want to know a couple truly awesome facts about our schools, consider these:
7. Since the last levy, the Loveland district met its commitment to increase program offerings! For example, it increased Advanced Placement classes (classes in which students can earn college credit) to 24. It expanded its STEM offerings in all grades as well as increasing access to technology, all necessary in our modern world to prepare students for tomorrow’s workforce! The district also increased programming to provide support in the critical area of emotional well-being. Now this operating levy (which is not for buildings) will be used to sustain these enhancements and maintain the level of services.
8. 100% of Loveland’s 3rd graders met the Ohio Department of Education’s Third Grade Reading Guarantee. Money from this levy will help ensure that programing and services continue to support our youngest community members!
More details on these facts as well as all the information about the levy are available at www.YesForLoveland.com. I invite you to avoid the clickbait and get the truth! Please join me in supporting our schools and our community and Vote Yes on March 17th. Also, watch for my upcoming article: “Communities That Support Their Schools Thrive and Here’s What Else Happens!”
The Operating Levy is not for buildings; rather it is to sustain and optimize the growth and achievements made since the last levy passed in 2014. It will cost taxpayers $20.27/month ($243.25 annually) per $100,000 appraised value of your home as determined by your county auditor.
1. District Profile Reports at http://education.ohio.gov/Topics/Finance-and-Funding/School-Payment-Reports/District-Profile-Reports
2. Ohio State Report Card