The Poland Schools will be different next year.
There will be a new superintendent by September 2013. The search will begin soon for a new CEO of Poland Schools, and there will be stiff competition. Just in Mahoning and Trumbull counties, there are several other districts vying for the same top notch candidate that Poland Schools requires. Across the state of Ohio, there are dozens of suburban districts searching as well. The levy results will play an important role in who wants the job.
Let's take a look at how the levy scenarios will play out:
Should the levy pass, there will most likely be maintenance of the status quo and even restoration of some previous cuts. Everything will not be restored to pre-cuts the levy does not generate enough revenue for that but the district will be on the right track to begin to rebuild what has been lost.
Should the levy fail, there may be additional cuts or open enrollment, or both. The State of Ohio Department of Education will be involved in monitoring the financial solvency of the district. Another levy will be on the ballot as soon as possible and the district may be changed forever.
Now, which scenario would you like to apply to be the CEO of?
The teaching staff will also be different in the coming years. Recent changes to the state retirement system, including STRS, will have some of our more experienced educators retiring by July 1, 2015 and others in the years following. This will be true for all local school districts, and again our financial status will play an important role in who wants to teach in our district.
So imagine this simple plan: The levy passes Nov. 6 and the board and administration work hand in hand over the next two school years to make due with the funds available (of course, this works better if there are no additional funding cuts from Ohio). Then the retirements starting the 2015-16 school years allow for enough salary and benefit savings to restore many remaining cuts and maintain a cushion for unexpected changes in state funding.
Admittedly, it is not the ideal plan, or a quick plan but it is a plausible plan. Short of a windfall endowment (anyone?) there is no easy fix. I would encourage the Board of Education to develop the framework of a five-year plan that does get us back on track. It would include assumptions in expenses and revenues but also strategic plans for our schools. This plan would be created and openly discussed with the community, faculty and parents. One thing that I have learned in the last few years is that there are many great ideas out there, but they are not being shared with the BOE.
We, as residents of Poland, hold the future of the Poland Local Schools in our hands. My plea to you is to see the light at the end of the tunnel and vote Yes for our school levy. The future starts now.
Parent, resident and co-chair of Citizens for Poland Schools