As all of you know, our recent request for funds to support the "tradition of excellence" here at the Tiffin City Schools failed Nov. 8. First of all, I would like to thank our supporters, our staff and the levy committee itself for an outstanding job of getting our message out to the community.
After listening to quite a few comments these past two weeks about the levy, I would like to take a few moments to speak out on behalf of our students, our staff and our "yes" vote supporters. I would also like to remind members of this community that our board members are not paid for their time and services given to this school district and, yes, we pay taxes just like everyone else. So when we decide to place a levy on the ballot, we will be paying it, also, and do not make these decisions lightly.
Recently, I have been referred to as "the senior board member." As a 16-year board member, I have been through many levy campaigns. The losses in the past few years have been the most devastating.
In 2003, we lost quite a few staff members and programs. Even after a later passage (of a levy) in 2004, many things did not come back and probably never will. With the constant and continual losses of financial support at the state level, as we continue to cut, more and more items will not be brought back - they will be gone forever.
Since 2004, we have continued to cut operations and staff where we could without impacting the success of our students. A few years ago, we asked for a small levy to increase funds for permanent improvement. This levy would have updated our technology in the district and updated our aging bus fleet, both of which are expensive endeavors to keep up with at any time. To most taxpayers, this would have cost them one dollar a month. We were told "no."
So, we have since purchased used technology from other districts that they felt was too outdated for their students to use but it was newer than ours! Recently, we have purchased our third used bus. These are buses other districts felt were too old to use for their students but, to us, are newer than many of the buses in our fleet now. This district told us "no," so we are making do with castoffs from other districts.
As chairwoman of the Support Services Committee, with our ever-tightening budget, another concern I have is maintaining the stadium. The stadium is an entity enjoyed by this entire community. The Tiffin City Schools Board of Education back in the 1930s applied to have the facility built through federal funds. In recent history, a fundraising effort was mounted to renovate it into an awesome facility with an endowment fund to keep it maintained.
Well, the endowment fund raised was not as large as anticipated, nor with this economy has it earned the expected interest on this amount. As the stadium has had issues over the years, we have covered these costs so as to keep the endowment fund intact. However, it is aging and work is going to be needed to be done soon.
Over the past two weeks, some of the comments made to me have been appalling. I know everyone likes to be an armchair quarterback. It is always easy to second guess our decisions when dealing with past grudges, rumors, gossip and suppositions. However, our decisions are based on facts, knowing the quality of people we are working with and understanding the day-to-day operations of this large district. We base decisions on what is best for all of our kids - period.
At Tuesday's board meeting, we planned to look at how best to proceed. It will be tough going, considering with the loss two weeks ago this district lost another $700,000 because of that "no" vote. If we go after the same 4.9-mill levy, it is not going to go as far as it would have.
I have also been told I "do not understand; people cannot afford any more." Yes, I do understand - more so than people think. My husband had been unemployed for more than two and one half years. He is now in a job that pays half of what he used to make, yet our bills are the same. My business has also greatly struggled through this economy. It will be tough for us, but we both voted "yes" for the kids of this community!
I am a proud graduate of the Tiffin City Schools and have always felt I got an excellent education. We owe that to our youth. The phrase says "pay it forward." This community paid for me to go to school - it is a tradition here. We call ourselves "The Education Community." Think back to the 1950s: This community built four brand-new school buildings (Washington, Lincoln, Krout and Columbian started in 1959) - with no help from the state! That had to have been quite the burden for them back then, but they did it for kids;why are we doing less for them?