Superintendent James Schoenlein expresses certainty that the district’s voters should approve a new five-year 4.89-mill levy request on the Nov. 5 ballot.
“We’re providing a great education and we’ve been bringing costs down,” he said.
Whether a majority will vote yes “is something I could never be completely confident about in Ohio. Only 15 percent of new money levies pass in this state,” he said. “I am cautiously optimistic.”
The last time Kettering City Schools asked voters for more money was in spring of 2010, when a 4.9-mill issue was approved.
The district originally planned to have a 5.9-mill levy on the May ballot, but withdrew it when it became likely that the state would restore some of the funding cuts it has made in previous years.
Schoenlein said the reduced amount, with a five-year limit, is needed “for books, buses, desks, computers, heat, lights and air conditioning,” but wouldn’t rule out some it going for pay increases.
Talks for a new contract with teachers are planned in the spring of 2014.
“Sooner or later, we’re going to have to think about raises. Our people have had their pay frozen for three years, but have continued doing great work. If you’re going to attract and retain the best teachers, you need to consider that,” Schoenlein said.
Kettering City Schools treasurer Steve Clark said all employees accepted a three-year freeze in base pay for 2011-12 through 2013-14. Step increases also were frozen for two of those years.
“I don’t foresee much help from Columbus in the future. I think our community understands that if Kettering wants quality schools, we’re going to have to pay for it ourselves,” Schoenlein said.
Kettering resident Eric Weber, a leader of a citizens group that campaigned against the 2010 levy, said he isn’t taking a public stand on this one.
“But you can’t crimp the hose forever. The schools, the teachers and Jim Schoenlein have done a good job since then. They have earned recognition for that. I am all for compensation based on performance. That’s the way my company operates. “
Weber said he was pleased that the school board “pulled back” the levy they originally intended to have on the May ballot “and waited to see what the state funding outcome would be” before lowering the amount and putting it on the Nov. 5 ballot.
“I would like to see the millage lower. What taxpayer wouldn’t? But if it’s used for the students and not just for salary increases, I can accept that,” he said.
Schoenlein said there are “a lot of people out there who like what we’re doing. We just have to hope they will go to the polls. We also have to hope that a lot of citizens who don’t have kids in school will vote for us.”
A group of community volunteers is taking the pro-levy message to the people in a door-to-door campaign. The drive is being headed by Jennifer Kane, the newly appointed member of the Kettering Board of Education.
Three other board members are running unopposed for new four-year terms: president George Bayless, vice president Julie Ann Gilmore and James Ambrose.
“Our test scores are booming, while our expenses have been creeping down. We’ve reduced our per-pupil costs the past two years,” Schoenlein said.
“We often get compared to our neighboring districts of Oakwood and Centerville,” which also have levies on the November ballot. “In areas like value added (which measures student improvement), we’re beating them.”
Kettering Schools were rated “excellent with distinction” on the most recent state grade card.
The district ranked seventh our of 614 in the state in the new “value-added” rankings.
KETTERING CITY SCHOOLS
Levy details: 4.89-mill five-year levy for current operating expenses. It would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $171.15 per year and generate $5.92 million annually.
Year-end enrollment: 7,414
State report card indicators met for 2012-13: 24 out of 24.
Previous state report card ratings: “Excellent with Distinction” for 2011-12, “Excellent” for 2010-11, “Excellent with Distinction” for 2009-10, “Continuous Improvement” for 2008-9, “Effective” for 2007-08 and “Effective” for 2006-7.
Administrators’ average salary: $110,495. (State average $76,037)
Classroom teachers’ average salary: $66,366. (State average: $57,904)
Expenditure per pupil: $12,005.
Revenue per pupil: $12,232.
Source: Ohio Department of Education (FY 2012), Kettering City Schools.
In-DEPTH SCHOOL LEVY COVERAGE
The November ballot is packed with school levies, and our team is looking into the finances of our local districts and getting you the information you need to make an informed choice.
Each day this week, we will focus on a different school with a levy on the ballot. If you missed past stories in this series, find them at www.mydaytondailynews.com/election2013
Saturday: Brookville Schools.
Sunday: Centerville Schools.
Monday: Huber Heights Schools.
Tuesday: Lebanon School.
Today: Kettering Schools.
Thursday: Springboro Schools.
Friday: Beavercreek Schools.
Saturday: Oakwood Schools.
LIVE WEB CHATS WITH SPRINGBORO AND HUBER SCHOOL LEADERS
Join us at DaytonDailyNews.com later this week for live web chats with school superintendents from Huber Heights and Springboro school districts.
* On Thursday, ask Heights Schools Superintendent Sue Gunnell your questions about the school levy from 1 to 2 p.m.
* On Friday, ask Springboro Superintendent Toby Petrey your questions during a live chat from 1-2 p.m.
Did you miss our live web chat with Centerville’s superintendent on Monday? You can find review it at www.myDaytonDailyNews.com/election2013.
WHIO REPORTS SPECIAL
Watch a special edition of WHIO Reports with Jim Otte and Terry Morris on Sunday, Oct. 20. Tune in to Newscenter 7 at 11:30 a.m. for a conversation with school leaders from Huber Heights, Kettering and Springboro. Listen to the broadcast on radio at 95.7 FM and AM 1290 WHIO on Sunday at 8:30 a.m.
ONLINE VOTERS GUIDE
We contacted more than 400 local candidates running for mayor, city council, school board and other races in our region. Learn more about the candidates and issues on your ballot at vote.daytondailynews.com