Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Over the past year the discussion has been whether or not Northwest Local School District officials had rebuilt trust enough to pass a 1% earned income levy in May, 2010.

The levy passed, but the SCPR thinks it is too early to tell on the matter of rebuilding trust.  Soon the District will be faced with another test.  Ohio, faced with an $8 billion shortfall in the next biennium, will be cutting local school districts like Northwest up to a third of its state monies.

It appears to the SCPR that the Northwest victory in November may have been more the product of a massive public relations effort rather than genuine trust at work.  A post-election Akron Beacon Journal articles reports: 
The district [Northwest] hired a Hudson public relations firm for five months to improve communication with residents, which included conducting a survey last June that revealed that the district had a perceived trust problem on handling finances. (Northwest finally wins at polls with planning, lots of communication,  John Higgins, May 9, 2010)
It is in crisis situations that we find out whether or not trust is sufficient to solve a problem.

The Northwest Board has held at least one post-election community meeting.  This is a step in the right direction.  However, the true test will come as the space between the May, 2010 election success and the current day widens.  Will the meetings continue with regularity and vigor?  If they continue, will they be pro forma or will district officials find a way to make them productive in rebuilding trust.

On to the Marlington situation.

Now we get news of yet another Stark County school district which is in a crisis mode.  The Alliance Review reports in Marlington board talks finances in a special meeting (Joni Bowen, June 5, 2010) that Superintendent Jim Nicodemo suspects that school district voters do not trust school officials.

The answer?

A la Northwest (at a cost of $13,000) about a year ago, the Marlington Board of Education (MBOE) has commissioned The Impact Group ($14,500) to determine the trust level between Marlington voters and the MBOE.

According to The Review, The Impact Group assignment will be:
...  to conduct phone interviews with 360 of the district’s 11,000 residents in order to obtain a 5 percent margin of error, Nicodemo said. The survey may include questions such as what type of levy individuals would support; whether the community trusts the district; whether the community trusts the superintendent; and whether the community would support passing a bond to construct new buildings within the district.
Depending on how the renewal/replacement levy scenario plays out, Marlington faces anywhere from a $918,391 to $2,824.575 deficit by 2013.

As with Northwest, it is obvious that Marlington school officials have be infected with myopia.  Moreover, they have not realized that trust building is a 24/7 year around operation.  Now the MBOE finds itself in a big financial problem.

And, of course, none of the deficit numbers factor in the upcoming state of Ohio cuts of up to one-third within the next year.

Think it might be smart on the part of the school folks at Northwest, Marlington, indeed, all of Stark County's school districts to construct something like the "A-Frame of Trust" and a day-in, day-out way of conducting business within the district.

On to the Perry school district.

The Perry school district is in the midst of destroying trust over the Whetstone matter.  Perhaps, if an "A-Frame of Trust" were in place, that situation would not have taken the ugly turn that it has.

Of many if not all Stark County school district officials, it needs to be said on the issue of trust:

Oh, when will they ever learn.  Oh, when will they ever learn!!!

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