4.5 mill levy on ballot May 7, 2013

It’s official:  the Milford School District will run a 4.5 mill levy on this May’s ballot.  The levy will generate just under $4 million per year and cost taxpayers $137 per $100,000 in home value.

When the levy failed in November, the district lost an entire year’s worth of income.  This means that, in order to keep the same programs and services, we either had to increase the amount of the levy; or make ongoing reductions.

After much deliberation, the board chose to keep the 4.5 mills and make ongoing reductions.  I personally had three main reasons for these decisions:

1)   Before we make drastic cuts to the district’s budget, I want to give the community another chance to pass the levy.  In the surveys we ran, both before the levy and after, people said they wanted to keep the quality of education we currently have.  However, if the levy does not pass in May, I understand the majority of the community wants us to reduce from the budget instead of receiving more income from homeowners;

2)   I felt we should keep the 4.5 mill level because I was already concerned about the additional burden a this levy would place on taxpayers; increasing the amount did not seem appropriate.  In addition, since the 4.5 mills did not pass, it is clear the community agrees with this; and

3)   In order to keep the levy amount at 4.5 mills, we need to implement permanent reductions to reduce our budget.  These reductions include $750,000 in one-time reductions from this school year, and $1.4 million starting next school year.

We will first reduce $750,000 this year from the budget.  These will be one-time cuts that will help us reduce less on an ongoing basis.  These reductions include:

  • Eliminating 8 custodians (this is the only ongoing reduction on the list)
  • Delaying HVAC upgrades
  • Delaying construction of the high school maintenance building
  • Delaying laptop replacements (laptops currently 5-9 years old)
  • Delay a portion of the curriculum & instruction purchases scheduled for this year
  • Savings on staff positions that were not filled
  • Reduce building budgets

Beginning next school year, we will implement $1.4 million in reductions that WILL REMAIN EVEN IF THE LEVY PASSES IN MAY.  This will allow the 4.5 mills to last three years.

The reductions that will be made are:

  • 3 teachers
  • 1 administrator (Special Education Coordinator)
  • 5 instructional aides
  • Reductions to the business, curriculum and technology budgets
  • Renegotiate contracts for aides with Clermont County Educational Service Center
  • Charge fees for Athletic Transportation
  • Reduce Retire/Rehire Teacher’s compensation
  • 8 custodians (these cuts were made this year, and will continue)
  • Department Chairs
  • Registration fees/staff development

If the levy fails, an additional $2.7 million in reductions will be needed to support our budget for three years.  These will also be implemented starting with the 2013-14 school year, and will be IN ADDITION to the reductions listed above:

  • 8 teachers
  • 10 instructional aides
  • 1 Central Office secretary
  • 1 Central Office administrator
  • Increase Athletic fees
  • Delay business operations projects
  • Delay teacher laptop replacements
  • Eliminate all field trips
  • Eliminate PRO OHIO assessments/tests
  • Cut transportation to state minimums

The district and our students will feel all these cuts, as we are running a very lean organization.  However, all reductions are focused on retaining as high a level of education and support as possible.  Our administration has been very creative and found some ways to save that hurt less than projected.  Much of this is also “luck,” in that contracts and other things changed, allowing us to save in ways we could not have projected even a few months ago.

If you have any questions about the levy or the reductions, please feel free get in touch.


22 Responses to “4.5 mill levy on ballot May 7, 2013”

  1. I. H. Pfeiffer Says:

    Please explain present system of raises for teachers. Are there any discussions with the Union, regarding merit based raises instead of automatic ones, as has been discussed in the past? Is there a way to bring teachers’ and other school employees’ salaries and benefits in line with those in the private sector?

    This community has great respect and gratitude for our good teachers; however, it is nevertheless time to look at the huge expenditure of salaries and benefits, and make reasonable adjustments there.

    If “transportation cuts to state minimums” means that children will have to walk on dangerous streets, or parents must restructure their own work schedules (in many cases not possible) – in order to drive their kids, then this option should not be considered to reduce costs. The elderly, as well as many young home owners, may have no way to increase their incomes during this difficult economy.

  2. andreabrady Says:

    Hi Herta,
    Thanks for the comment. The teachers’ union actually agreed to a one-year extension of their contract with a freeze of both steps and base increases, which saves us appr. $500,000 annually. The district will be renegotiating personnel contracts next year.

    Up until this past year, Ohio law required school personnel (except administrators) to be on a salary schedule based on years of experience and education level. This resulted in automatic “step” increases each year, as personnel moved up the salary schedule. In addition, districts often gave base salary increases to keep pace with other districts.

    The law changed last year, allowing districts to compensate based on performance. However, there are still a lot of questions about what that means, as the law is vague and contradictory in parts. When it comes time for us to renegotiate contracts, we hope the law has been clarified so we know how to proceed.

    Re: transportation, state minimums means no one will be bussed inside a 2-mile radius from their school, and there will be no high school busing. If the levy fails again, we will really have no choice – to try to make up that amount of money, we would have to cut a tremendous number of teachers and programs. Busing is the single-biggest area we can cut without decimating the entire system. I understand what a hardship it is for the community, which is why we did not touch busing right now; but if we affect the quality of education too drastically, our district will suffer other negative effects, such as property value reductions and making it hard to attract new businesses.

    Please let me know if you have more questions, and if all this makes sense. Thank you again for commenting!

  3. Suzette Says:

    Are band members and extracurricular activities also going to have pay a transportation fee, or is that just for athletes? Also, are band members and extracurricular activities going to see an increase in their participation fees, or is that just for athletes?

  4. andreabrady Says:

    Hi Suzette,
    The transportation situation is actually not worded very well – the way it will work is that any district extracurricular will now have to determine its own transportation (with approval from the district), and also pay for it, either from the boosters or team/participants. But yes, it does apply to everyone.

    And yes to your second question as well – all extracurriculars will see a fee increase. The fees will be the same for athletics & band, as they are now, and different levels for other activities.

    Thanks for asking!

  5. T Cannon Says:

    Anyone who has seen the Milford 5-year forecast should notice the increase in cost for Employee’s Retirement and Insurance goes from $10.75 million to about $14.82 million in just 4 years. That’s a total increase of over $4 million per year. The cost jumps from 34% of payroll to 44% of payroll by FY 2017. And it’s the biggest single item increase of any expense in the district. And yet, when it comes to reducing expenses further this item never comes up as a place to cut. I know that this is an item that has to be negotiated with unions. And nobody wants to address the issue. But how does the board justify sacrificing the children’s education quality in order to insulate generously paid public employees from the realities of our economy.
    Is requiring the employees to contribute 30% of the cost of their insurance premiums instead of 15% out of the question?

    • Don Lykins Says:

      Wow… Its time for another deep dive into the financials. Lets attempt to pressure the district to cut in other, non-instructional areas. I’ll fire off a FOIA reqest to the treasurer on salaries. Mr Cannon – pls email me directly and lets collaborate. dlykins@cinci.rr.com, 305-4737.

  6. andreabrady Says:

    Hi Tom,
    The increase in retirement/insurance is not $4 million per year, but appr. $1 million per year. This is a 10%/year increase. Given the astronomical insurance increases many companies and organizations are seeing, that is pretty conservative, but still realistic given our situation. The increase as a percentage of salaries should make you happy – it grows that much because salaries are not projected to increase at nearly the rate insurance is.

    At this point, we are not in negotiations with the union, and all we know is what our agreement is today. We have to base our projections on current reality. If, when we enter negotiations, things change, then they can be entered into the forecast. But it would be irresponsible to assume, for instance, that employee’s insurance costs are going to double when that has not yet been negotiated.

    While we may not be on par with the private sector as far as what employees pay for insurance, Milford employees are still paying one of the highest rates among school districts in our area. There is a cap as well; employees absorb the increase over a certain percent, which helps us work with the union to find the best deals financially for both the district & the employees. This would also increase the percentage employees are paying.

    Any negotiations and discussions we have with the union are confidential, so do not assume things are or are not being discussed. When the union contract is up next year, both sides will look at a variety of items. Hopefully we will come to an agreement that makes sense for all of us.

  7. T Cannon Says:


    You say
    “The increase in retirement/insurance is not $4 million
    per year, but appr. $1 million per year.”

    Perhaps you should read your own 5-year forecast dated Oct 2012. It clearly says the retirement/insurance expense goes from $10.75 million per year for 2013 to $14.82 million per year for 2017. That’s a $4 million increase in per year expense. It’s enough to consume the entire amount of money your levy is supposed to generate.

    You also say
    “The increase as a percentage of salaries should make
    you happy – it grows that much because
    salaries are not projected to increase at nearly the rate
    insurance is.”

    What? That isn’t a serious comment is it?

    Then you go on and say
    “But it would be irresponsible to assume, for instance, that
    employee’s insurance costs are going to
    double when that has not yet been negotiated.”

    I’m not suggesting any such assumption. The only assumptions being made are those by the Milford district itself. Why is the assumed increased amount listed in the 5-year forecast listed as if it had been negotiated and voted upon already? The assumptions for the forecast pretty much state that the district is committed to paying the amount, even though it’s a negotiable item. Do you think that bit of the plan is lost on the unions? You are right it is irresponsible. The district has already agreed to pay the increases. And where will all this money come from? More levies? I don’t think so.

    You claim that
    “While we may not be on par with the private sector as far
    as what employees pay for insurance,
    Milford employees are still paying one of the highest rates
    among school districts in our area.”

    Even if that’s true it doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t pay a larger share the same as the private sector.
    This obsession to lavish benefits on employees just because it’s done in other districts is extremely wasteful. And it’s wrong. It perpetuates the idea that the community exists solely to serve the public employees. And it poses a major risk to the children’s education as we are seeing right now. Sacrifices will be made to the children’s education quality in order to preserve the financial comforts of the employees. And if the levy fails more damage will be done to the children.

    You state that
    “ Any negotiations and discussions we have with the union
    are confidential, so do not assume things
    are or are not being discussed.”

    I don’t assume anything. And I don’t trust anything that has been negotiated in secret. Presently there are no negotiations in process that I know of. Did any board member or administrator ever mention the possibility of employees paying a higher portion of benefits costs to save money? No. Do I expect them to? No I do not. But that could change. If the board takes a firm stand to protect the education quality of the children instead of catering to the employees they would gain the community’s support.

  8. andreabrady Says:

    Hi again, Tom,
    OK, I think the two of us did not understand each other on a couple of these points. Re: the $4 million increase, I thought you were saying we were increasing $4 million each of the four years. I understand now what you’re saying.

    I also understand what you’re saying about the unions and what we’re including in the forecast. But, I believe this is still the best way to approach the forecast. If we were to forecast benefits at a lower amount, assuming the unions would agree to, say, doubling their percentage paid in a short amount of time, and then we were not able to achieve that in negotiations – we’d be in a huge mess.

    We use the forecast to project out worst-case scenarios, since we are required by law to work with a balanced budget. We certainly intend to put everything on the table in negotiations, which will start next year for the contract ending June, 2014. And, we in no way tell the unions they can “expect” or “assume” what we have in the forecast.

    In addition, we are forecasting a 10% increase, but the reality could be much worse than that. Perhaps our insurance rates increase 30% – it’s not unheard of these days. There are many factors – total increase, what employees pay, other options – that go into that number. So you can’t just assume that having our employees pick up more of the premium will reduce the forecast significantly.

    We of course hope to save money vs. the forecast on this and other areas of the budget, as we have been for the last four years. If the administration (and board) had the attitude that if we save money somewhere, we should turn around and spend it, then that would be a problem.

    But this administration and board have been extremely conservative and careful in our spending. We’ve saved millions and are continuing to cut. If we save more, we do not turn around and spend it – we put it back in the carryover to help take us even further.

    When the 2008 levy passed, the district promised it would last 4 years. It has. But more importantly, if the state had not cut funding, it would have lasted significantly LONGER than 4 years. The attitude is not what we saw with the previous administration and board, to spend whatever we have – we have conserved, reduced, been creative and responsible. And, we intend to continue doing so.

    I never said that just because our employees pay more than most other districts that I don’t think we need to continue to move toward parity with the private sector. I was just trying to point out that Milford has been more aggressive in adjusting costs. I at least intend to continue that, and I believe our other board members do as well.

    Personally, I don’t like that negotiations are secret, either. I believe everything in the public sector should be in the open. We don’t have a choice there. And I can’t tell you what has or has not been discussed with the union, because of that restriction.

  9. T Cannon Says:

    Just one more thing. Though union negotiations are confidential, the results of those negotiations are not confidential even though the district hides them as such. Does the board ever disclose to the public how the teachers and administrators are paid? How much in dollars they must contribute to their benefits? Are the details regarding time off and other perks given to the employees ever described? The answer to all of the above is NO! I have never seen that kind of information come from the board or the district. Even the union contracts have been removed from the district web site to stop public view. You may not like the secrecy. But it’s there in a big big way.

  10. I. H. Pfeiffer Says:

    Mr. Cannon, thank you for your insightful information; you articulate the concerns of many of us. We home owners are indebted to you for making the issues so clear.

    Question: Why MUST the $10.75 million per year paid out this year for pensions and insurance, jump to $14.82 million by 2017? Why can’t these benefits be frozen until this economy revives?

    We who pay the bills should receive information from the administration re: number of employees, teachers and ancillary staff, maintenance, administration etc. – and a breakdown of these salaries and cost of benefits. After all, they are public employees – OUR employees.

    Do the benefits go ONLY to the employees, or to the families of all the employees? I am assuming to the families also; husbands/wives and children. If a school employees’
    benefits are much better than those of their spouses, may the spouse drop his/her benefits and sign on with the school employees’ benefits? No doubt that the union benefits
    are better than those in the private sector.

    I have recently seen a video, in which the National Teachers Association CEO stated, when asked how much of their mission or work is for “the children” … arrogantly responded with words to this effect: “We are the most powerful union because we get our members the most money. It is all about the money!” His attitude was shocking, to say the least.

    Does the local paper still publish salaries as in the past? Cost of benefits (insurance, retirement etc.) should also be published – so that we can compare them with those in the private sector.

    Who, from the school district, actually participates in the negotiations with the Union? And yes, we should know more about those “secret” negotiations.

  11. Dan Binzer Says:

    Thanks to Mr. Cannon for your insightful comments.

    Further, the timing of the Gov. Kasich article in the Cincinnati Enquirer indicates that further funding is on the way from the state. His “proposal increases state funding for education by $1.2 billion over two years, funding education at $7.4 billion in 2013-2014 and $7.7 billion the following year.” Each district is supposed to learn next week how much of the pie they are getting.

    As an aside, I helped settle my mothers estate in 2011 and learned at that time she paid lower taxes (on a higher property value) to the school district in Indian Hill that I do for the Milford School District.

    Like many others, I lost my job in 2009. Lack of work has prematurely force me into retirement before I was ready. I must see continuing improvement in the management of the existing budget before I ever vote for another school levy.

  12. andreabrady Says:

    Tom, what you say here is just not true. Every year, the district publishes a book with details on the fiscal year revenues and expenditures. It does not have people listed individually, but it has details on salaries and benefits. Information on salary schedules are public information and available to anyone who asks. I don’t believe the district ever published the actual teachers’ contract, but the MEA used to. I don’t know why they don’t any longer. But the bottom line is that all the information you listed is either already published and has been presented publicly at a board meeting, or it (and more detail) is easily available through a public information request.

    Herta, we cannot freeze benefits any more than a private company can. We have to provide healthcare, and premiums are increasing exponentially. We have been renegotiating constantly, and have thus kept our increases very low – much lower than either the private or public sector standard. One way we have kept premiums low is to continually renegotiate the plan itself. There is an insurance committee that reviews what is available and changes the plan to keep costs down. The percentage increase we are projecting over the next four years is low, but we do think it’s achievable. 30, 40 or higher percentages are typical for insurance premium increases right now. Once again, your question about cost information is already available.

    Benefits do go to employees and their families, if they so choose. We could negotiate to have spouses take their own company insurance, if they have it, but we would still have to allow children on our insurance if the family so chose. Eliminating spouses from the insurance plan would thus not save much, if anything.

    I don’t know if the paper publishes salaries; they are free to do so, plus benefits, if they so choose.

    Typically, the superintendent, assistant superintendent and district attorney participate in negotiations. The board provides direction but does not participate. We do share everything we are legally allowed to share with the public – we do not keep anything “secret” that is not required to be “secret” by law.

    I have no doubt that the NEA is focused on money and supporting its members.

    Dan, thank you for jumping in to the discussion. I will answer your comments soon – I just saw your post when I came to post this answer to Tom & Herta.

  13. andreabrady Says:

    Hi Dan,
    Thank you again for commenting. I am sorry to hear about your job situation; too many people have been forced into situations that are not ideal.

    I do have some additional information on the Governor’s plan. Our Treasurer, Debbie Caudle, attended a meeting today to discuss some of the details. We will get more specifics next week.

    While base funding is increasing, it won’t be equal to all districts, and some may not get any. We have no idea how much we will get yet, but historically, we have been considered a “wealthier” district and received less allocation in state funding changes. The current plan definitely targets lower-wealth districts for increased funding.

    Our belief as of today is that it’s possible we may receive a little more from the new plan, but it will not be nearly enough to replace what we have lost. Instead, it would help us stretch the levy longer. As I have said before, our attitude is not to spend whatever we get, but to conserve and make our funds last as long as possible.

    Re: Indian Hill, their property values are so high that they are able to bring in more money with lower rates. They actually spend significantly more per child than we do.

  14. I. H. Pfeiffer Says:

    Andrea, do you know the the per child spending in our district vs. Indian Hill schools? Of course, that number doesn’t really mean very much; I think the Cincinnati Public Schools spend something like $13,000+ per child, and they have been in trouble for years w/ their low rating by the state. Also, as you are probably aware, the average income of a Milford resident pales in comparison to the income of the Indian Hill resident. A few years ago, it was almost 10 to 1 … I researched it then. Milford averaged something like $38,000./year vs. Indian Hill $300,000+/yr. Do you know the current figures? I think this must be considered when asking for more money.

    Also, is there a way to compare salaries and perks between the two districts? It is my understanding that Indian Hill is very frugal in that area.

  15. andreabrady Says:

    Hi Herta,
    For FY 2011, Milford spent $9,748 (which is overstated, due to things like Food Service – I wrote an article on that a few months ago) and Indian Hill spent $15,209. I don’t have details on their staff cost, but to spend that much more per student, I have to believe their staff is well compensated.

    You’re right, the number does not mean much. What it can show, however, is efficiency: a district can spend a lot of money but not be that good academically, but when you do have a solid district, like ours, that is spending less than the average – that’s one way to show we are doing a lot with less money.

    If you’re interested in the specific details, that info is available thru a public records request.

  16. I. H. Pfeiffer Says:

    Thank you, Andrea. By a public records request, do you mean to request it from the individual schools? I just googled this topic; did find a site for comparison among Greater Cincinnati schools, but Milford was not among them. Also, some of the schools (ex. West Clermont) simply say “unknown” in the “Labor Cost” column …

    Click to access Ohio-teacher-contracts—The-black-hole-of-school-spending.pdf

    I found a report on Milford per student spending; they report $10,804 vs. your $9,748. Very confusing.

    If someone has time for research, would appreciate some help w/ this issue. It would be interesting to find a comparison between average income of Indian Hill (Madeira, Mariemont) residents, and the average, or median, income of a Milford resident. Seems to me that this would be critical information to consider. We may all WANT more for our dedicated teachers and staff, but the ability to come up with the money may not be there …

    Respectfully yours, Herta

  17. andreabrady Says:

    Hi Herta,
    I really like EAG; I’ve seen that report before. However, I don’t think it was meant to be a full examination as they did not even try to include all districts.

    The Homesurfer site I have never heard of, and they do not have accurate info. The number for the state is wrong, as is Milford’s. You can check the ODE website if you want to confirm, but Milford’s number is what I provided above (and which, as I mentioned is overstated – see this article for more info https://andreabrady.wordpress.com/whats-in-a-number/). The state average is $10,705. I have no idea where they came up with the other numbers.

    I understand what you’re saying about community income, but there is a bit more of a problem there. We are required to provide certain things within a school district: those “unfunded mandates” we keep talking about. The various & sundry things we are required to do but for which we receive no money costs us millions a year.

    In addition, teacher salaries are a function of the law + free enterprise. Until this past year, school districts were required by law to provide a step salary chart based on years’ experience and education. When that is combined with the market force that controls salaries, you end up with what we currently have.

    Milford’s salaries are below average compared to SW Ohio districts. And there is no way to make them “match” what the average is in our area – that would be against market principles, and it wouldn’t work. I know this is a not an accurate example, but the only analogy I can think of would be for Tata, for instance, to say they are only going to pay their computer programmers $35k a year instead of something like $80k b/c they are located in an area where the median income is $35k.

    I realize school districts are supported by the community, which is why this example doesn’t hold up, but I couldn’t come up with a better one.

    In a market-driven economy, salaries will be driven by what companies/organizations are willing to pay. When you have “richer” districts that can – and do – pay a lot more, our salaries naturally have to be driven upward as well.

    Also consider that Milford is spending below the state average. We are not asking our residents to support a bloated budget – we have worked to keep costs down. And we are not asking for “additional” money with this levy; we are simply asking to replace not quite what the state is taking away. We are producing well above-average results at below-average costs, and doing so with creative approaches in so many areas.

    Dan, you mentioned earlier you will need to see continued improvement in managing the budget before you could support the district. I would love to hear your ideas – we want to continue to improve our management. Remember, we have to work within both the law and market forces – but whatever suggestions people have are more than welcome.

  18. I. H. Pfeiffer Says:

    Andrea, thank you for the link to the 10 year financial information, and your detailed reply to my comments. Whew … we had a 27% inflation rate over the past 10 years?? I believe you … you were always very sharp re: facts and figures!

    Keeping the school spending to about 10% over the same period sounds good, but we still have to live with the downside, that many people are “under water” with mortgages and credit card bills, and many older people, who know nothing of investing in stocks/bonds, have lost 27% on their savings, over the same period. We all know that our paper dollars are worth less each year … It’s a dilemma …

    I guess I am suggesting that the unions back off on their demands for increases in salaries & pensions, and that any increases in insurance costs be shouldered by the employees. (We seniors had no say in the matter, when the gov’t chose to freeze Social Security payments for 2 years recently, which actually amounted to a “pay cut”. And this year, the monthly Medicare costs have gone up for everyone. Do we really want to push the elderly and low income wage earners, into the poverty zone?

    Time for everyone to become less self-oriented, and “think of the children” – and that includes school employees and their union reps. (Re: the Tata example; yes, it is comparing apples to oranges. School funding is unique, since those who actually pay the salaries get little to no input, except to vote down the levies.)

  19. andreabrady Says:

    Herta, I’m glad the info helped, and I agree with you 100%. I know many people are out of job, under water, worried about what the future will hold. That’s why I, and I believe all our board members, thought long & hard about the levy, and put hours & hours & hours of work into trying to find the best solution. And that’s why we are trying to reduce expenses on an ongoing basis, so if we do pass this levy, it can hopefully last much longer than projected. But it is a dilemma; everyone is hurting, and we have so little room to maneuver. Yet, we have to educate our children, and make sure they are ready for their futures.

    I agree it would be helpful for the unions to work with us, and hopefully they will when we begin negotiations next year. Remember, they did extend their contract a year with no raises and no steps, which was very nice. If we are able to come to more favorable terms with the union than what is reflected in the forecast, that will once again extend the levy, making it easier in the future for our community. Right now, however, we cannot assume any sort of negotiation result, or we could end up in a bind. That DOES NOT mean the district, or the union, are starting from that level going in.
    Everyone understands the goal is to stretch our finances, and hopefully everyone will jump in to make that happen.

  20. T Cannon Says:

    Above you said:
    “Every year, the district publishes a book with details on the
    fiscal year revenues and expenditures…But the bottom line
    is that all the information you listed is either already
    published and has been presented publicly at a board
    meeting, or it (and more detail) is easily available through a
    public information request.”

    I am sure that the information I mentioned is somewhere in the district records. Legally it has to be. But, presented publicly in a board meeting? When? At what meeting did someone present the medical insurance premium cost and the cost to the employee? Or at what meeting did someone present the other employee benefits and their cost? Things like pick up on pick up. I don’t think that kind of information has ever been presented in a board meeting.

    My intent in responding your original letter was not about secrecy. It was about priority. The ONLY reason we have a school district is to provide a quality education to the children in the community. There’s no government backed union to protect them. So, by default, their best interest becomes the primary target when levies fail. Just read your own “What If The Nov. 2012 Levy Fails”. It’s a perfect example of what I am talking about. No mention of addressing employee benefits and perks cost anywhere. But there’s a lengthy list of cuts in education. That has to change. JMHO

  21. andreabrady Says:

    Tom, I completely agree with you. Unfortunately, at this point, we have no choice – we are in the middle of a union contract term, and the union’s counsel has advised them not to reopen discussions. We will be negotiating next year, and my hope is we are able to make up some additional funds vs. the forecast through that negotiation. However, we cannot count on that when submitting the legally-required 5-year forecast.

    You are most likely correct that we have not gotten into the details of specific percentages, etc, at a board meeting. However, we have gone over the totals, which show how much total is paid into employees’ retirement funds (and the percentage, which is legally required), how much is goes to the pick-up, etc. And while we talked totals only, the information was there for anyone who wanted to ask. We try to keep the board meetings to totals since most people are not interested in the details. For those who are, the information is available and shared readily.

    I was one of the people stonewalled as I was trying to gather information under our previous superintendent and board; if there were any secrecy and stonewalling going on, I would be complaining about it – publicly. However, I have heard only positives about people asking for information and receiving it quickly and in full. And these are people who had also experienced stonewalling and who were unhappy in the past. I’m hoping those days are behind us completely, not only under Dr. Farrell but under anyone who succeeds him in the future.

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