By Julie D’Aloiso
According to Parma Heights Mayor Byrne in a recent letter: the Parma City School District unveiled their “Fiscal Recovery Proposal” found here: http://www.parmacityschools.org/…/Parma%20BOE%20Fiscal%20Re… This proposal consolidates the three high schools (grades 10-12) into one high school at Parma Senior High. Valley Forge and Normandy High Schools will be re-purposed as middle schools (grades 7-9).
The School Board is also proposing to eliminate the STEM program. STEM is the future of students. It is a curriculum based on the idea of educating students in four specific disciplines — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — in an interdisciplinary and applied approach.
The three mayors that organized a town hall meeting today were Seven Hills Mayor Richard Dell’Aquila, Parma Mayor Tim DeGeeter, and Parma Hts Mayor Byrne.
The goal for this meeting was to discuss options and get organized so ideas can presented clearly and effectively to the decision makers that hold the future of our children in their hands.
None of the mayors support the plan presented by the Parma City School District. The mayors are unified and say “How can you only present one option?”
Prior to this meeting the mayors have met with think-tanks, state reps, foundations, board members and administrators.
According to the Mayor Richard Dell’Aquila, even if you do not have children in the school district, you still should want to support the schools. If you do not have a strong school district property values decrease, crime rates increase, and more importantly we need to have an educated populace to have a working democracy.
Mayor Tim Degeeter almost takes it personally when people say they are going to move out of the area. “We have worked together to keep Parma moving forward and we don’t want to see that momentum turn. We can do better.”
Today’s meeting revealed that many options exist that are seemingly being ignored by the School Board.
Down the road there many be at least some assistance in retrieving money currently ear marked for charter schools. Charter schools have come under fire lately for having low test scores and low participation. There are also some discrepancies on how many students are enrolled. This is a system that seems to be not working. See related article here.
Why does the State only contribute 32 cents per student instead of 57 cents like other similar school districts?
There are uncollected real estate tax delinquencies amounting to several million dollars. Some of that would go to the schools if collected.
Fore more ideas Mayor Tim DeGeeter reached out to Innovation Ohio public policy expert Steven Dyer.
Dyer referred to the Ohio Department of Education District Report from 2015. It compares school districts and their expenditures in different categories.
Dyer did not provide a proposal, but did indicate several areas that should be looked at when considering how and what to cut. After analysis, Dyer discovered that what the Parma City School district spends per pupil is significantly higher than other similar districts. without any increase in results
Parma City Schools spend 25% to 67% more than other school districts in several key categories.
Dyer identified in his report several categories in which Parma is paying more that other similar districts, including:
- Parma City Schools spent more per pupil compared to similar districts but spent slightly less than similar schools on building operations – which is the area that the School Board is making proposed adjustments.
- If Parma City Schools lower the pupil support category 35% it could save $4.9 million and still only spend 7% more than similar districts.
- Parma City School spent 33% more on admin expenses compared to other similar districts.
- If 5% is cut on instructional spending, the district will still be spending 19% more than other districts but save another $4.9 million.
Mr Dyer indicated that there are indicators that Parma City Schools can reduce the budget by 16 million dollars annually with out changing facilities and staff.
This is Dyer’s initial report and it is just preliminary. A more detailed report will be forthcoming.
Marty Vittardi (Parma Municipal Court Clerk of Courts) had a chance to speak and said “Important decisions need to be made by working together – not just a few individuals. ”
The three mayors are committed to working together and with the community. If the Parma School District School Board passes the current plan on Tuesday Oct. 4th. These mayors will take their options to Columbus.
Sean Brennan, president of Parma City council, reminded the crowd that there are a few important issues on the Parma ballet. Issue 118 is a renewal levy and will not raise taxes and issue 85 is a police levy that will also not raise taxes. He encourages people to vote for candidates that support public education and not those who wish to privatize it.
In the words of Jacqueline Kennedy: “If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do matters very much.” If Dyer’s report is accurate, shouldn’t the School Board consider this research before they bungle the future of our children?