Points for the West Branch District voters to consider
To the editor:
To residents of West Branch Local Schools:
We are writing as fellow residents of the West Branch School District. We are also writing as four people who graduated from West Branch Local Schools and whose children attended West Branch. On Tuesday we hope that you will join us to cast your vote to support the School District Income Tax Initiative that will be on the ballot. Due to changes at the state level and a dramatic decrease in state funding, West Branch is unable to maintain the level of service and programs for our students without additional operating revenue.
As you go the polls, please consider the following:
1. This is a three-quarters of one-percent (.0075) school district income tax. This is not a property tax. Many of our neighboring school districts have a school district income tax in place.
2. Income from Social Security is not subject to this tax and only income from estates is subject to the tax.
3. The West Branch School District income tax is for a five-year period. Last November, it was on the ballot as a continuing tax. Voters told us that they were not comfortable with a continuing issue, so we have adjusted that to a five-year term.
4. While West Branch educates students for over $1,000 less per student than the state average, the school district continues to receive the highest achievement rankings awarded by the state.
5. All West Branch employees (including administrators) have gone two years with no increase to base pay and have agreed to go two more years (for a total of four years) with no increase in base pay. Salary concessions this year by our teaching staff will result in additional savings of $78,000, and all West Branch employees are contributing more to health care costs.
6. Funding from the state has been reduced dramatically and has been frozen, while costs continue to rise.
7. The school district income tax will generate approximately $2 million per year. The operating budget for West Branch is currently $19 million per year. Without additional revenue, we will have to reduce services and programs for our students
8. The school board will place $400,000 per year of the new tax revenue into permanent improvements such as buses, parking lots, technology, and maintenance of our facilities.
9. Our students deserve to have a school system that prepares them for their futures. A strong, successful school system is good for residents, good for property values, and good for the overall quality of life that those of us who live here enjoy and expect.
10. If we pass this ballot issue now and begin receiving financial support from the levy in January of 2015, we can continue to offer the comprehensive educational program that our students deserve. If we do not secure an additional source of revenue, we will have to eliminate programs and services. This will lead to a downward spiral that we have seen in too many Ohio school districts.
This is an important time in the life of our school district. We ask for your support and your positive vote May 6, 2014.
Superintendent (WB Class of '71)
President of the teachers' association (WB Class of '77)
School Board President (WB Class of '77)
President of the classified employees association (WB Class of '82)
Renewal of Issue I will help all local communities
To the editor:
On May 6, voters will decide whether to approve Issue 1, which is the renewal of the State Capital Improvements Program which has helped local communities all over Ohio complete 11,500 road, bridge, sewer and other infrastructure projects over the last 27 years. Here are key facts about the program.
Issue 1 extends the program 10 more years, authorizing $1.875 billion in infrastructure aid for local governments. Issue 1 approves $175 million a year for five years, then $200 million a year for five more years. Grants are up to 90 percent for repair/replacement projects and 50 percent for new projects.
There will be no increase in taxes because funds to repay Issue 1 are already built into planning for future state budgets. Ohio's high financial rating makes renewal of Ohio's most successful program possible.
This program has created tens of thousands of jobs in 27 years and will provide an estimated 3,500 more construction and allied jobs over the next decade. By improving our roads, bridges, sewer and other facilities, Issue 1 improves job climate and the quality of life for all Ohioans.
The Issue 1 capital improvements program is an enduring success for our state and has had a strong, traditional bipartisan support. It first passed in 1987 and renewed again in 1995 and 2005. Democrat and Republican mayors, county engineers, township trustees and leaders of both business and labor all back Issue 1. In fact, the vote to put Issue 1 on the ballot was 31-0 in the Ohio Senate and 90-2 in the Ohio House.
Here at home in Columbiana County, 169 projects have been done through this program and have been shared by Columbiana County, townships, villages and the cities. Issue 1 provided over $32 million in grants and over $13 million in 0 percent interest loans for these 169 projects.
It is my opinion that Issue 1 is, without a doubt, the best grant program ever offered by the state or federal government that is designed to help our local government repair and replace our failing infrastructure. The program has reasonable requirements, which also allows us to move projects forward at an acceptable pace. I would urge all the Citizens of Columbiana County to support this program by voting yes on Issue 1 at the May 6 election.
BERT DAWSON, P.E.
Teachers are for community and all our area schools
To the editor:
As teachers, we are for our community. for our schools. All area schools! Teachers support all public schools.
Where you lay your head at the end of the day means you only support that community? We say no. A community member is one who gives back to what they have taken; one who supports the activities that are for the common good; and, one who comes together to make a region a wonderful place to live. So as open-enrollers to the West Branch Local Schools, we are for our community for our schools. all of the area schools! So yes, we will not be voting on the West Branch Local Schools income tax levy but we will be voting for the United Local Schools permanent improvement levy.
Many district residents may feel that open enrollment students take money, services, educational opportunities and extra-curricular opportunities away from their students. In the state of Ohio, enrollment figures determine financial support in the amount of $5,700 per child.
West Branch enrolls around 300 students from other districts, which equates to an income of approximately $1.7 million. In our family, $17,100 in funds is added to West Branch which directly supports my husband's salary. All open enrollment students support the school district finances that otherwise would not come in. If we educated our children at United, I'm sure some would say we are taking from West Branch and not supporting it. Educating our children at West Branch has always been our choice.
We built our life on the CoffeeGrounds for a reason. We choose to live where my husband's grandmother gave land years ago to build a one- room school house. That land was a donation and a gift of her income. Moving to the "hometown" of my husband and making this area our community, we want our children to be educated by individuals who we know very well and in a school system where we would be active.
We want to be in direct contact with our children's teachers who are also the parents of our babysitters, coaches, piano teachers, Sunday school teachers and friends' parents. An active, hands-on approach is important to us as parents, not only for our own family members, but the other lives we come in contact with. As adults, we embrace the opportunity to make a difference. It is time for us to come together in all communities in order to make a positive contribution for students. Even though it may require sacrifices, it is time.
The current funding formula in the state of Ohio requires the local community to support its schools through tax dollars. For 22 years, taxpayers of West Branch have not had to vote in a tax levy due to the state of Ohio and the fiscal responsibility that West Branch has taken. For 22 years West Branch and the community have been fortunate.
However, the state of Ohio has turned the tide by reducing funding and by placing a heavier burden on local residents, as evident by the numerous school issues on the ballot across the state. Less money, more state and federal mandates, higher costs, more tax dollars going to for profit schools, are just some of the factors.
Supporting the public schools is the best form of a mission project to change and strengthen the lives of children who will someday be the leaders of our communities. Who paid the taxes for our education? Our community. We are asking you to make a for our schools choice come every election to support our community. We are for our community as a past teacher, as a principal, as parents, as children and as Christians.
Be an informed voter and show your for our schools support!