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Educate UA! 
 It's Time for Solutions...Vote "No" On Issue #52

 Don't Fall for the Spin from the UASD:    Contrary to what the school district would have you believe, UA's school taxes are some of the highest around.  Click here for the details and learn the other ways the district is spinning the facts.  School administration is always welcome to contact us if they have questions and we will be happy to remind them of the school district documentation and Ohio Department of Education Reports from which our data was obtained.

The last word...

     UA voters have heard a lot about cuts to teachers from the school district, but they have not heard the district put forth reasonable solutions that address the budget shortfall without affecting the curriculum.  
     UA is the second highest paying school district in Ohio with a cost per student that exceeds $15,000. With these factors in our favor, our school board can easily manage a budget shortfall before coming to the taxpayer for even more money.
     Slowing the growth rate of compensation will keep our teachers at the top of the pay scale and will keep our budget balanced.  And as far as contracts - they can always be renegotiated just as UA schools did in 2011 with the teachers' union.
     Vote for common sense solutions that we all use in our own homes and businesses.  Vote "NO" on Issue 52.  It's time for reasonable solutions, not threats to the curriculum.


Don't vote on Issue #52 before considering...

Educate UA Position: Upper Arlington School District Position:

No reductions in teacher workforce Increase taxes
No cuts to teacher salaries OR
Slow compensation growth rate Cut teachers
Cut extra-curricular activities
Four Essential Points:

1.  UA is the second highest paying school district in the state according to the Ohio Education Association, the teacher's union.

2.  UA has a $15,157 cost per student as reported by the Ohio Department of Education.  The levy is for 100% new money, therefore the revenue stream that supports UA's cost per student will remain in place.

3.  Similar districts achieve excellent results at a lower cost per student:  Bexley ($14,347), Dublin ($12,709), New Albany ($12,138), Olentangy ($9,599).  

4.  Teacher cuts will only occur if the school board, administration and union refuse to negotiate and choose an unsustainable wage scale over the curriculum.  Any contract can be renegotiated as was done in March 2011 with the UA teachers. (Story in Columbus Dispatch, June 14, 2011 - Click here for story.)

Vote "NO" on Issue #52 and give the schools the opportunity to implement reasonable solutions. Vote for solutions, not threats.

      About Educate UA

Educate UA is made up of parents of UA students, UA alumni and teachers who value Upper Arlington and its excellent school district.  We are concerned with the unsustainable costs associated with the schools and want to provide important information to UA taxpayers as they evaluate the November school levy.  We hope that after reviewing the facts presented in our Position Paper which can be read HERE, the voters of Upper Arlington will see that it's time for solutions that will keep the budget in balance without cutting our teaching staff.  Doing so will enable our school board and school administration to address the rate of growth of wages & benefits and not negatively affect the curriculum or the students.

If the administration, school board and union agree the only way to solve a funding problem is to cut teachers, then their highest priority is to maintain an unsustainable wage scale at the expense of the students and taxpayers.
 Evidently excellence does not matter; pay scales do.

What is Issue #52...The Upper Arlington School District (UASD) has come to the voter again this year - this time with a 4 mill operating levy designed to raise $6.3 million annually in new revenue to the district. The levy will increase the taxes on the average UA home ($327,000) by $458.  See how much your home will be affected on our tax chart here.  It should be emphasized that the school levy represents 100% new money to the district.  If the levy should fail, the current revenue stream which funds the UASD at one of the highest levels in the state of Ohio, $15,157 per student, will still be in place.

                               Salaries & Benefits

It's Business As Usual... Wages & benefits have grown at an unsustainable pace since 2001.  The 2012 levy failure sparked a brief decline in compensation growth, but the district's budget includes wage & benefit increases that grow at a faster pace than even before the levy. (2.7% before vs. 3.0% after).

Compensation represents 85% of the school district's budget.  Until the rate of growth of compensation is addressed, the school district's budget will remain on a runaway course.

                      Source:  Upper Arlington School District

UASD Budget Shortfall Amounts to Less than a Penny on a Dollar 

Even with generous wage and benefit increases, 
Educate UA's analysis shows the district's budget shortfall to be only $700,000 out of an $80 million budget - 0.00875 of the total budget.  A budget shortfall that amounts to less than a penny on the dollar can be easily managed before coming to the taxpayer.  Go to "FACTS" for our calculations.  

Reasonable Solutions which Preserve the Curriculum

Small changes to wages & benefits can yield large savings and provide real solutions:
  • Currently, UASD employees pay only 12% of the cost of their health care premium.  Their total health care package, including the taxpayer funded HSA contribution, is over $18,000.
  • If school employees paid the same percentage of their health care as workers in the private sector (30%) and if the UASD reduced the cost of its health care policy to that of a typical policy ($15,500), the UASD would save approximately $1.5 million annually in taxpayer funds.
  • Additionally, UA administrators receive an added layer of retirement compensation over and above what is required by the state of Ohio.  Each of the 29 administrators has a contribution made on their behalf to a private annuity equal to 9% of their salary.  These double retirements should be eliminated before coming to the taxpayer for more revenue.
  • Per an Ohio Education Association study (see below), UA is the second highest paying school district in Ohio.  Freezing the wage and step scale until the economy has fully rebounded will yield significant savings and UA will still offer the highest salaries in central Ohio.
 UASD Wage "Freeze"

Wage freeze or not, Salaries go up... UASD "froze" wages for 2012, but even during a wage freeze the average teacher salary for UA rose 4.3% while salaries in similar school districts remained stagnant. What was publicized as a wage freeze was no freeze at all; base pay was frozen but step increases remained in place.  Marketing gimmicks and business as usual will not solve UASD's unsustainable budget.  The solutions discussed above will.  

 UA is the Second Highest Paying School District in Ohio

UASD outpaces its competitors in terms of compensation.   According to a September 2013 report from the Ohio Education Association, Upper Arlington is the second highest paying school district in the state of Ohio.  But while we are the second highest paying district in Ohio, US News & World Report, ranks Upper Arlington only 8th out of the top 15 central Ohio high schools (see US News' rankings below).
Other respected school districts are achieving better results at a much lower cost.

There is room within the pay scale to realize savings before coming to the taxpayer.  Truly freezing the wage scale until the private sector has fully rebounded from the economic downturn would yield significant cost savings.  Even with a pay freeze, UA would still offer the highest compensation packages in the area.

Read the Ohio Education Association analysis here.  Click on the picture of the OEA October magazine. You will then see a screen that has past issues displayed on the right sides.  Click on the issue for September.

Review the US News & World Report rankings here.

The Ohio Education Association report that is referenced above was based on a review of the wage scales of Ohio school districts.  Educate UA performed a similar analysis focusing on central Ohio schools.  We found that UASD's wage scale starts higher, grows faster and extends further than the wage scales of all comparable school districts in the greater Columbus area.  
UA's wage scale is:

              11% higher at the starting point, 14% higher at the mid point, and 7% higher at the end point.

   Source:  Union contracts of referenced school districts

         U.S. News & World Report Rankings

Paying more for schools does not necessarily produce results.  As referenced above, U.S. News & World Report ranks UA 8th out of the top 15 high schools in central Ohio.  When viewed on a statewide basis, U.S. New's rankings are even more startling.  See US News' high school rankings here.
  • Three central Ohio schools are in the top 10 high schools in the state:  Olentangy Liberty (4th), Bexley (5th) and Olentangy High School (7th)
  • Four central Ohio high schools are in the top 20:  Olentangy Orange (11th), Dublin Coffman (12th), Dublin Jerome (15th) and New Albany (18th).
  •  UAHS is ranked 25th in the state of Ohio.
Similar school districts are achieving better results at significantly lower cost.
  • If UA had Bexley's cost per student, the district would save $4.7 million annually.
  • If UA had New Albany's cost per student, the district would save $17.5 million annually.
  • If UA had Olentangy's cost per student, the district would save $32.2 million annually.
UA schools are spending a lot of time trying to delegitimize the US News & World Report study.  Read here and scroll to the appropriate section to understand why what the schools are saying is a misrepresentation of this very rigorous and thorough study.

       Columbus Dispatch Editorial

"Levy battles - Push back from taxpayers means school officials must make a better case"

On October 1, 2012, The Columbus Dispatch published an editorial explaining the importance of organized opposition to school levies as a means to encourage school officials to more prudently consider tax increases and to find better ways to address their budget shortfalls.  Without organized opposition, "school districts have less incentive to trim the fat from their proposals."  (Columbus Dispatch, October 1, 2012).  Please read the full editorial here.
Unsustainable Spending Drives Local School Levies   

The Buckeye Institute released a policy brief in November 2012 on the spending problem inherent in school districts across Ohio. The Buckeye Institute maintains that Ohio school districts do not have a funding problem, but a spending problem.  "What those arguing for increased taxes fail to mention is that Ohio's school districts face a structural problem that has been deeply embedded in their budgets for years, namely that total compensation costs for employees are unsustainable on their current trajectory."  (Buckeye Institute Policy Brief, November 2, 2012).  Read full article here.