An editorial in today's Columbus Dispatch hits the nail on the head. Ohio's South-Western City Schools shouldn't forget the fiscal crisis (we've blogged about the district's cuts here and here) that consumed them prior to the narrow levy passage this week. Instead, district leaders in South-Western and elsewhere across the state should confront the patterns that put them on a "collision course":
"For most school districts, more than 80 percent of the operating budget goes to salaries and benefits, yet when deficits loom, cuts are made to the 15 to 20 percent devoted to transportation, sports, the arts and other highly visible programs. When personnel costs are cut, the reductions come in the form of positions axed, not salaries or benefits trimmed.
The tightening American economy has made voters less and less willing to accept that they should pay proportionally more of their income each year to support school salaries and benefits more generous than their own.
South-Western is well-managed; it has seen academic progress with spending and tax rates below the average for Franklin County. Its personnel spending isn't unreasonable when compared with other school districts; its salaries are in the lower half for Franklin County. But if voting taxpayers aren't willing to accept the bottom line, it has to change.
South-Western's leaders have said they intend to seek salary and benefit concessions in future contracts with teachers and administrators. They're wise to do so, and school districts...