Tuesday, February 10, 2009


In last week's election the Lake Local School District bond issue failed miserably: 70% to 30%.

What was the bond issue money for?

The same thing that all bond issues are for: construction, either new or remodeling. The Lake bond effort did include some operating money which is usually overlooked in bond issues (e.g. Plain Township schools which has a beautiful new building complex but no money to operate it with).

The Lake effort is designed to raise nearly $30 million to couple with $41 million from Ohio in order to do new construction and remodeling.

The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) wonders "out loud" if Lake (The Report's home district) has its priorities straight given the accompanying graphic (gathered from the Ohio Board of Regents Higher Education Information [HEI] database) which shows the high remediation rate that Lake graduates experience when they enter college.

These numbers are stunning! Lake along with Jackson and North Canton are some the very best school systems in all of Ohio.

And Lake is not unique in Stark with these remediation numbers. Jackson and North Canton share them. Other school districts in Stark County are significantly worse.

The Report expects to take guff from Lake school officials and, perhaps, from other Stark County educators because of this opinion piece. Readers of The Report know that there are no sacred cows for this blog.

Educators/administrators will have a very hard time making The Report an adversary of K-12 education given the hundreds of hours yours truly has donated to the Lake schools. Unfortunately, all too often anyone who asks questions about the results that taxpapyers get for their property taxes paid to support local education are dubbed "anti-education."

Yours truly has every reason "to look the other way" on this incongruity because my own highly successful three daughters (a medical doctor, an attorney who is working on her Ph.D, and a major in the U.S. Air Force [public relations officer]) graduated from Lake (the last in 1996). They were not remediators.

The Report looks at the high remediation number this way.

Stark County's school districts must start doing a better job preparing the college bound or the county, state and nation will be the worse off competing in a global economy. The rub with remediation is this: time spent on remediation is time lost preparing for high degrees of competence in a chosen vocation.

So why the big push for new/remodel facilities when a district like Lake is short on its mission and on its vision?

Apparently, the thinking at Lake (and a lot of other school districts in Stark) is: "don't look a gift horse in the mouth."

Anyone conversant with education in Ohio knows that one of the few success stories (if not, the only one) the Ohio General Assembly has had in funding education in Ohio was the creation of the Ohio Schools Facilities Commission (OSFC).

A brief history: (from Knowledge Works/School Funding Matters)
... the Ohio School Facilities Commission was created in 1997, providing more than $2.3 billion, primarily in tobacco settlement money, to fund a statewide effort to rebuild schools rated as the worst in the nation. (GAO study, 1996)
For most school districts, there is a requirement of a local match (again, for Lake it is $30 million).

A number of Stark County schools have a high "local match." Consequently, it not a sure thing that a school district will accept the state money.

Locally, Perry School District turned down the OFSC money because it could save Perry property taxpayers $10 million by doing its construction with all Perry money and in doing so Perry could tailor its facilities to Perry's specific needs and not be dictated to by Ohio's OSFC officials.

Undoubtedly, Lake voters will face the bond issue again in May.

And many of Lake's administrators, board members, staffers and parents will spend hundreds of collective hours figuring out how to get the issue passed.

In the meantime, a gnawing question persists.

What is being done about the perennially high remediation rate?

The Report is fine with Lake voters voting for the bond issue, if that is what they wish.

Whether or not the issue passes, Lake officials need to aggressively go about fixing the districts' remediation problem and give the Lake public periodic accountings on the progress they are making.

After all the Lake mission is: "Providing education to achieve success."

After the need for remediation is repaired, then all of Lake graduates will certainly be in a better position "to achieve success" because Lake proves itself by action and not mere words to be "the Best Organization for Learning," and a model for the rest of Stark County.

One final point.

Although this blog on excessive rates of remediation is primarily directed at Lake (The Report's home district), it is a critique of all Stark County school districts. Some of which have much higher rates of remediation.

Stark Countians cannot be happy with their school systems' remediation numbers.

When numbers like these surface, Stark taxpayers have to be asking themselves this question.

Are school tax dollars being put to effective use?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Excellent article Mr. Olson. Instead of addressing remediation, which by the way we NEVER read or hear about this in the local media, reporters and editors somehow manage to never miss the score of any sports competition however.
I wonder why an article on remediation rates is not done on a regular, perhaps annual, basis by our local media.
And we hear that newspapers are wondering why they are being replaced by blogs and reports such as yours.
Keep up the effort. I also suggest you consider expanding through perhaps a small subscription basis.