STEPS 2009 School Board Candidate Survey

Dear Neighbors,

Since 2001, I have published the responses of Beavercreek school board candidates to questions designed to ascertain their commitment to cost-effectiveness and ability to uphold their oath of office. This year, the survey returns with single question regarding implementation of all-day kindergarten in Beavercreek. In addition to the question, briefing materials are provided.

The oath of office for board members is as follows:

Do you solemnly swear (or affirm) that you will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Ohio; and that you will faithfully and impartially discharge your duties as members of the Board of Education of the Beavercreek City School District, Greene County, Ohio, to the best of your ability, and in accordance with the laws now in effect and hereafter to be enacted, during your continuance in said office, and until your successor is elected and qualified.

This election's survey consists of a single question:

1) Other school districts in the Miami Valley have classrooms they can not afford to staff. What steps will you take to avoid this problem in Beavercreek, especially regarding Governor Strickland's recent mandate for allday kindergarten? Have the Governor's supporters made the case that all-day kindergarten in Beavercreek deserves support from taxpayers in Beavercreek and throughout Ohio for additional space and staff?
Peg Arnold

This question has some interesting premises. First, that anyone at the State level will make a case for our specific district or dissect the data pertaining to it. That doesn’t and isn’t going to happen. Information is not gathered from the district level any other way that using the state data reporting system, which is not very user friendly and requires support persons feeding it at the administrator level. All this data passes thru human hands at some point and mistakes do get made. The second interesting premise is that any of the Governor’s supporters would make a case specifically for Beavercreek or “throughout Ohio.” These cases are made mainly using the big 8 districts and the effect on them. It appears from the board level that the general attitude is that these wealthy districts can take care of themselves. Except the entire populace is not wealthy, and many middle income residents have been hit by the economy and even if they want to support us, they can’t. I am not dealing in politics here and this same situation was the case when the Republican’s were in charge in Ohio, so let’s leave that part on the side.

So we are down to the parts of the question dealing with how will you prevent Beavercreek from having classrooms it can’t staff, and what will we do to make all day kindergarten work here? First, Beavercreek is in a unique position, we currently don’t have near enough room to grow, over 25 teachers at the HS on carts, which means they have no classroom as their home and move from room to room all day based on availability. We have classrooms in the pipeline, and our growth is still such that we may yet need another building or two. So I am not very worried about having rooms we can’t staff, that would almost be a dream problem here. We will make all day kindergarten work, because we don’t have any other choice. Either we will have to add trailers, or work the kids on split shifts, or some combination of the two. It is possible we could lease some classroom space in an office building, but that is less secure than keeping it with a school. We do have some parents, particularly with both parents working, who would love to have all day kindergarten, so we may have plenty of cooperative families. Many studies support all day kindergarten as basically very good for the kids. This board tried to build another building, a stand alone preschool on the grounds of the board office, but when it didn’t pass after two attempts, we removed it. The whole purpose of that was to free up kindergarten space in the event we had to go to all day kindergarden.

We will all survive the change.

Thanks for asking.

Rob Dotson

In 2008 only 40% of operating levies requesting an increase passed (Columbus Dispatch, "Levies fewer but Longer under School-Funding Plan", Jan 30, 2009). How we approach the upcoming operating levy is very important. We have to demonstrate and communicate our responsible use of school funding to the Beavercreek community. The School Board, Superintendent, Treasurer, faculty, and staff must review our operating requirements, and the mandates from the state very carefully. All-day kindergarten is simply one piece of the Governor's education plan that will have an impact on our budget. Simply adding an hour to our school day will result in a greater than 10% increase in labor costs which in turn will affect taxpayers. Regardless of where the support is for the Governor's plan, in our political process legislation and elected officials change routinely.

While mandates and programs may change with election cycles, we live with budgets projected at three to five years. With new construction, an operating levy to pass, and constant political changes, it is uncertain where our needs and requirements will be after the new school buildings are in place. In my opinion, we must delay, delay, delay those mandates, including the all-day kindergarten question, that cannot be sustained within our budgets by finding alternatives, and utilizing waivers currently available in the proposed plan. Delaying will allow the Board and Superintendent to evaluate the impact of any new requirements on other area schools.

Thank you,

Rob Dotson