The Press Newspaper

Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

The Press Newspaper

Share

The Oregon Schools Community Levy Committee and the district’s administration are “firmly committed” to honoring their pledge that revenue from a 3.95-mill operating levy passed by voters last November will “exclusively” go toward preserving Career Technical programs and extra-curricular activities, according to a post on the committee’s Facebook page last week.

The committee was formed early last year to promote passage of the levy on the November 3 ballot. The Oregon Schools Community Levy Committee Facebook comments, made by someone who later identified herself as Joy Andrews, were posted after an article appeared in the April 18 edition of The Press in which Superintendent Hal Gregory and School Board President Carol Molnar appeared to be backing away from a pledge they made to voters last October that the $1.9 million annual revenue from the levy, if passed, would exclusively go toward Career Tech and extra-curricular programs.

“In light of recent questions from our community, the levy campaign leaders want to let you know that we have met with Oregon City Schools administration, and all of us are firmly committed to honoring our pledge to voters about levy funds,” stated Andrews. The words “firmly committed” are capitalized and highlighted in bold.

“The community trusted us and we will honor that trust,” stated Andrews. “The levy funds allow our district to maintain extra-curricular programming and local control of Career Tech. The levy funds were not enough to cover 100 percent of the cost of these programs, but we promised that if the levy passed, these programs would not be in jeopardy for the foreseeable future. We remain firmly committed to that pledge…If you or someone you know has questions about levy funds, or the promises that were made, please direct them here and we will do our very best to answer those questions with facts. This levy was a turning point for our district and we ask that our community help us keep the positive momentum going!” The Facebook page can be accessed online at www.facebook.com/OCSLevyCommittee.

Andrews stated on Facebook that she and Alison Staudinger, as leaders of the levy committee, met with Gregory “at length” on Wednesday, April 20.

“At the end of the day, neither Mr. Gregory nor any member of the board can say what the outcome of the negotiations will be. We do know that levy funds are operating budget funds. All teacher salaries also come from that budget. Levy dollars aren’t segregated. We can only say that the equivalent of each dollar raised by the levy will protect the programs we promised to protect. In fact, the cost of those programs is greater than the money raised,” states Andrews.

No guarantee
She also stated, “At no point in the ads that were placed or in the campaign itself did any of us say that we would guarantee that there would not be any teacher raises ever,though the ad states revenue from the levy would “exclusively” go toward preserving Career Technical programs and extra-curricular activities. “We said that the amount raised would protect extra-curricular and Career Tech. We remain committed to that, as does the administration and board. None of us has any problem with the voters holding us all accountable to these promises.”

In a half-page ad, with the headline “Open letter to the residents of Oregon and Jerusalem Township Communities,” that appeared in The Press just before the general election, Gregory and Molnar pledged that revenue from the levy would be used “exclusively” to protect all of our extra-curricular programs and keep Clay’s Career-Technical programs under local control. The word “exclusively” in the ad was highlighted in bold. Molnar’s and Gregory’s photos and signatures are at the bottom of the ad.

The district had failed repeatedly to get an operating levy passed since 2008. Voters on November 3, though, approved the measure by 62.64 percent to 37.36 percent.

In an article that appeared in The Press on April 4 about the district’s current contract negotiations with the Oregon City Federation of Teachers and the Ohio Association of Public School Employees (OAPSE), Gregory reiterated the pledge he made in the ad, saying “The community put their trust in us when we passed the levy, and we’re going to honor that trust…We made it very clear that the levy money would cover the athletic department and Career Tech programs.”

School board member Jeff Ziviski agreed with Gregory in the last paragraph of the article: “We publicly stated that the levy money was to maintain the current level of services and programs in athletics and career tech. It would not include pay raises, only maintain our current level of services, which would include the current salary structure,” he said. It is the only comment made by Ziviski in the article.


Backing away
On April 11, Molnar, a retired teacher, contacted The Press to say that Ziviski’s comment was in violation of board policy. Only the superintendent or the board president could comment to the media on behalf of the school board. Molnar also appeared to be backing away from her earlier pledge that levy revenue would be used exclusively for Career Tech and extra-curricular programs. The levy money, she said, could indeed be used for pay raises for teachers.

And although Gregory said in the April 4 article that he will honor the pledge, he would not comment for the April 18 article when asked whether the board would tap into the 3.9-mill levy revenue to give teachers raises as part of their contract.

The Oregon City Federation of Teachers represents the district’s 260 teachers. OAPSE represents non-certified positions, such as secretaries, maintenance, bus drivers, and school monitors.

Teachers did not receive raises in their base salaries in their current contract, which was negotiated in 2014. But they continue to receive step increases in their pay. As part of their contract, teachers traditionally receive automatic salary “steps” or increases the longer they serve in the district. Those teachers who serve 30 years will have received a total of 18 step increases. In 2015, step increases cost the district approximately $500,000.

The current two-year contract replaced a three-year contract because the treasurer could only certify there would be enough funds in the budget for two years.

 

 

Baker

Do you agree with the Supreme Court ruling that the Colorado baker did not have to prepare a cake for a gay wedding?
1003507044 [{"id":"259","title":"Yes","votes":"40","pct":54.79,"type":"x","order":"1","resources":[]},{"id":"260","title":"No","votes":"31","pct":42.47,"type":"x","order":"2","resources":[]},{"id":"261","title":"No opinion","votes":"2","pct":2.74,"type":"x","order":"3","resources":[]}] ["#194e84","#3b6b9c","#1f242a","#37414a","#60bb22","#f2babb"] sbar 160 160 /component/communitypolls/vote/96-baker No answer selected. Please try again. Thank you for your vote. Answers Votes ...