Letter to the Editor
As a previous employee of the Galion City School District that was affected by the recent reduction in force – I believe I have a great deal to say about the status of Galion City Schools, as well as the upcoming Levy. I was Superintendent Kathy Jenney’s Executive Secretary from June 2009 – July 2012.
Due to the Government funding cuts of 3.1 million dollars to the operating fund of Galion City Schools in the past two years (2.5 million this year alone), deep staffing cuts had to be made to ensure that the District could remain operational. Public schools are mandated to run in the black, regardless of funding cuts – ironically, unlike almost all other government entities. As a result, my position, along with 22 other teacher and support staff had to be cut this fall. This was the second round of staffing cuts this year due to government budget cuts.
I would first like to say that I completely understand why my position and others needed to be cut, and I have nothing but respect for Dr. Jenney and the Board of Education members who had to make these difficult decisions. I know firsthand how excruciatingly difficult it was for them to do so. Cutting staff was the very last resort, and the last thing that they wanted to do, but they had no choice. The alternative to a budget in the black, is that the State comes in, takes over and declares fiscal emergency – then there will be no more sports programs, no more extra-curriculars, busing, no more nothin’ – except the bare bones required for education. I believe that will be damaging to our students and the District as a whole, and that is not an acceptable alternative!
I have had several people come to me and express their frustration that the District purchased laptops for the students “instead of paying teacher’s salaries”. I have had to explain on numerous occasions that the computer purchase DID NOT affect the cutting of jobs. The funds for the computers came from a grant that SPECIFICALLY FORBADE the use of those funds for operating costs – so could NEVER have paid for staff salaries! We had those funds as a direct result of Dr. Jenney’s very hard work to find other monies through a special fund and special programs specifically to provide wonderful technological advances for our students, enabling us to stay current and competitive with all of the outside sources vying for our student’s attention and trying to draw them away from our District. Current technology is crucial for our students to emerge from our schools with the competitive skills required to help them obtain careers in today’s global society. That is Dr. Jenney’s and the Board’s vision for our students. If we do not remain competitive, we lose students to other Districts or options.
Part of the financial issue that has led to the current fiscal state of the District is the repeal of the 2004 tax levy which caused an annual loss of $785,000 annually – had this repeal not happened, the District would most likely not be needing this current levy. Between the government cuts – 3.1 million, the repeal of the levy — $785,000 yearly, and the huge chunk required for staff insurance cost increases. The drastic cuts became a necessity to prevent state control.
The District Staff has agreed to a salary freeze for this school year and has significantly increased their contribution to health care benefits, the District can’t cut it’s way out of this situation any further!
If the upcoming Levy that will be on the ballot this November 6th should pass, it will ensure that the Galion City School District will be able to continue to operate without moving into fiscal emergency. Without it, the State will probably come and take over in 1–2 years and will cut all of the great programs that our students love and need. It is absolutely crucial that you vote YES for the School Levy. The Levy funds WILL go directly to funding staff, extra-curriculars, sports, transportation, therapy and much more. If you own a home worth $100,000 – your estimated taxes will only increase by $21 per month! Come on people — that’s less that the cost of Dinner at McDonalds for your family! If your house is valued at less than $100,000, then it costs even less per month!
When my family and I moved to Galion from Toledo, we scouted all of the towns in the area, and there are some great ones, but we chose Galion specifically for the schools. We came and toured the Middle School prior to moving here, and Principal Andy Johnson and Secretary Julie Noggle were amazing, as are the rest of the District staff – who love and support the children of this District. We had no doubt in our minds that this was where we belonged, and have never changed our opinion. For all of those folks who have elected to attend elsewhere – Why aren’t you going to Galion City Schools? — Galion City Schools are great! They are one of the highest rated Districts in the region!
Galion City Schools have a very proud heritage of amazing graduates, as attested to by the incredible Career Day and Alumni Hall of Fame that is celebrated each year at Connections Weekend. These folks who have made amazing strides in the world return to share their successes with our students because they have a deep sense of pride in Galion, and a desire to give back to our current students – pay it forward. We have much to be proud of here in Galion, both past, present and for the future – but we have to help our schools to ensure that the future remains bright for our kids!
We are in this together people, this is YOUR Galion City Schools, this is MY Galion City Schools. It is a GREAT District that my family and I are proud to be a part of. Come Election Day – Please, it is CRUCIAL that you vote YES for the Levy and help avoid fiscal emergency. I hope you will be a part of the solution and not the problem.
I would urge anyone that has questions about anything I have mentioned in this letter, to instead of basing your decision on emotion, without having the facts, call Dr. Jenney or any of the Board members. I know they would be happy to answer any and all questions. Be informed – support YOUR Galion City Schools!
Proud to be a Citizen of Galion and supporter of Galion City Schools