Thursday, February 01, 2007
By Robert Nozar Bedford Sun Banner
BEDFORD - The Bedford Board of Education has taken its case directly to the residents of Walton Hills.
The issue is the nearly nine-year push by the village's leadership to leave the school system.
That effort was dealt another defeat in December by the State Board of Education. But Mayor Marlene Anielski, with the consensus support of the entire Village Council, has decided to appeal that decision in Franklin County Common Pleas Court.
The village has earmarked another $25,000 for the legal battle that has already cost it about $350,000. ....board president Debora Kozak estimated the district has spent in excess of $300,000.
The school board sent a letter dated Jan. 19 to each home in all four district communities. In the letter Kozak, who is a resident of Walton Hills, states...
"Obviously we are disappointed (by the appeal) as it will mean that both the Bedford schools and the residents of Walton Hills even the many who oppose the transfer must continue to devote valuable fiscal resources to litigating over a transfer attempt that we have always believed is in vain."
"The letter reasserts the school board's confidence that the position of the district will prevail and that the Court of Common Pleas will deny the appeal." My wish would be that the letter would rally all residents of the district and particularly those in Walton Hills to demand this effort be put to an end," Kozak said.
"The people of Walton Hills in particular are paying. They are getting a double tax hit. "They are paying the full legal bill for Walton Hills and they are paying a big part of the legal bill for the school district. Their tax dollars are going to support opposing points of view."
"We believe wholeheartedly that now is the time to put this matter behind us and to move forward to work with the residents of all of our communities to educate our children to their full potential," the letter concludes.
The board's letter hints at the need for residents to step forward and demand the village put a stop to the litigation.
I have lived in Bedford for thirty five years. Attended Bedford Schools K - 12. At one time Bedford had pretty good schools, but they started declining in the late '80's.
When first notified that Walton Hills wanted to transfer out of the district, Bedford School officials claimed the loss of funds from the transfer would be create to much of a financial burden on Bedford Schools.
When that argument was debunked and Walton Hills offered to pay Bedford Schools a yearly fund, they changed their argument to history. The argument against the transfer now changed to - "our schools have a rich tradition and allowing the transfer would disrupt the legacy of our schools."
Being involved in our community and following our schools this is what I have to offer -
I do not want Walton Hills to leave our school district. But I understand and support the views of Walton Hills residents. They have less than 50 kids in our schools collectively. Most parents in Walton Hills have elected to send their children to private schools because of the poor performance of Bedford Schools.
Some talking points -
Bedford School district claims they will lose approx. $8 million dollars if Walton hills is allowed to leave. The schools are basing this number with the assumption the Ford Stamping Plant will be making no more cuts. Walton Hills has offered to give Bedford money to allow the transfer.
It has been established that Bedford Schools are top heavy in administration and has questionable spending practices.
A study comparing them "apples to apples" to like districts bears this out. The study was conducted by a member of the teachers union, and submitted to the board two (2) years ago. At that time the board disputed the report and said they will conduct one of their own (I guess their pencils broke, it is still not complete).
The business manager, Jerry Zgrabik, has stated he routinely "structures" the improvement contracts to be below the amount for public bidding requirements. He claims it is "easier" for him to pick and choose contractors he wants to work with.
The last State Audit showed 11 findings against our schools. While no money was missing, our schools over spent 22 of 34 accounts. One of the accounts (construction improvements) was over spent by $1 million dollars.
Our superintendent, Marty Motsco, after retiring as a teacher, worked her way up to the top. She currently makes $123,000 a year. Plus a deferred annuity account, $200K life insurance policy, and a $450 per month stipend for being and attorney, on top of her teachers retirement.
Our schools are in the top ten in spending per student in the state, and routinely in the bottom ten in performance. We have two elementary schools and our middle school in academic watch. In general, our district floats around the bottom of "continuous improvement" rating.
Last year we found out that it is routine for all the students in a class to have text books. If they didn't have a book, they were told the info could be gotten on line.
Our school received a donation of $300,000 from a local company to be used for technology type learning. With this money our superintendent bought 300 laptops at $1000 each and gave them to the TEACHERS!
Bedford residents have asked for the last 5 years, how much money is being spent on tutoring of students? To this date a concrete number has never been given.
Bedford residents have asked for the last 5 years or more that our schools have a performance audit conducted by the state. Which will never happen.
(Note: Performance Audits are done by the state auditors office and districts have to request them to be done. A performance audit tells a district where they are efficient and where they are not efficient)
I can continue on with more examples, but I hopefully I got the point across. I laugh when the district talks about history and legacy. Most of the kids I grew up with moved out of Bedford, because of the schools, to raise their families.
So to close this rant, I have to ask -
Would you willingly send your child to a poor school?