Signals crossed: Mayor vs School Board for Dayton Tax hike “for the kids”

Earlier this week, the Mayor and her minions started testing the waters for a .25% income tax hike, raising Dayton’s rate to rival Oakwood’s highest in the County 2.5%. Oakwood, with the best schools, the lowest crime, perfectly kept streets and backyard trash pickup. A place where public parks look like Disneyland- and even have public bathrooms “that don’t even smell” (that quote from a DPS student who was amazed at Orchardly Park while helping me with a hoops Dayton video).

Part of that money is to go to pay for comprehensive pre-school.

DAYTON — Under the threat of a state takeover, Dayton Public Schools Board of Education members agreed during a work session Saturday to draft a resolution of necessity, the first step toward placing a levy before Dayton voters in November.

The levy plan being forwarded is a temporary five-year, five mills levy targeted toward improving after-school and summer programs with possible technology components, said Adil Baguirov, board president.

“In the long run it’s more prudent and much cheaper to invest in early childhood education and summer programs and after-school programs and educational technology than it is into prisons and all kinds of remediation later in life,” he said.

Without showing improvement on its state report card, the district runs the risk of being operated under an Academic Distress Commission within the next two years. New funding could pull the district back from the brink, said Joe Lacey, a board member.

“We need to try to do something – an additional program, if you will – over and above what we’re doing to try to bring us out from under the threat of academic distress,” Lacey said. “We’ve seen some successes with that at our schools, specifically Ruskin (Elementary School).” Baguirov said the levy is not permanent and not meant for general operating funds.The measure, however, is headed toward the same ballot as a Dayton income tax increase proposed by the city. Voters in November will be asked whether to approve a 0.25 percent increase on income earned in Dayton to help close a projected budget shortfall, fund police and fire services and pay for universal preschool.

Source: Levy proposal for Dayton schools pushed forward | www.mydaytondailynews.com

Whoa, hold on there. If we just wait 2 years for the State takeover, we don’t have to worry about paying for the schools at all- it’s the State’s problems- so isn’t a 5 year levy a bit much?

And, maybe because the Mayor didn’t even bother to come to the meeting where the three Superintendent candidates were presented to the public- we might infer that coordination between the two political bodies has broken down? Both coming to tax payers “for the kids” at the same time is a monumental recipe for disaster.

Dayton already spends more per student than any other district in the county, with the worst results. Noted, they also deal with the most special needs students, an 85% poverty level population, and has to compete with charter schools that don’t have to meet any of the same requirements for hiring teachers, testing, certification etc.

So, what should tax payers really ask for in terms of change?

David Esrati Campaign literature from 1993

It was 11×17, both sides, a lot to read- too bad not enough did.

I go back to my campaign literature from 1993 when I was running for the seat that eventually was Dean Lovelace’s entry to the dais:

Neighborhood-based Schools
“It takes an entire village to raise a child”
African saying

An entire VILLAGE, people, not an entire City. If we return to neighborhood schools the parents can get involved again. The chief reason for Dayton’s decline is busing. It is The Problem. As your commissioner I will spend at least an hour a day in one of our public schools.

I also proposed, long before our new buildings with A/C were built,

The year-round school

To combat the suburbs, and to keep our kids out of trouble, I recommend we move to year-round schools over the next 12 years. We aren’t farmers, our kids don’t work the fields in the summer. Learning is a lifelong experience, we need to reinforce that with a year-round learning environment.

Subsidized Day Care

An innovative day-care program is needed to attract new busines and new citizens to the city, as wellas to put our high percentage of single parents back into the work force as productive taxpayers. This would be a high-quality 24-hour service, that would provide long-term benefits to our citizens and make your investment in Dayton grow.

Hmmm, and no one took me seriously? We decimated our parks programs, filled in the swimming pools, and the school year remains the same as everyone elses, despite having a tougher challenge.

What DPS needs to do to improve test scores and keep kids out of trouble is move to a longer school day, with a longer school year, add an additional 20 days to the 180 day school year, with a 4 day school week  for most of the year except for leading into testing weeks.

The school day would be 8:30 to 5:30, but actual academic instruction time would be limited to 4 hours a day. The other hours would be doing art, music, phys ed, home ec, extra curriculars, and individualized guided learning. You want to be a programmer- you go hang out with the computer club, you want to be a social worker, you volunteer with a social service agency, you want to be a teacher, you tutor younger kids. Teachers have more time to plan, and to guide students in their personal passions- be it genealogy, chess, quilting or gardening. And, every school should be raising it’s own food- as both a hands on learning biology and agronomy, but as a business model as well. Hire Lisa Helm from Garden Station to lead the charge- since Nan and friends are evicting them from their gift to our community.

Yes, negotiating the new teacher contracts will be tough, but most inner city teachers aren’t there for the money, especially since Dayton doesn’t pay well. And we need to take a new look at transportation- no more door to door- but have neighborhood stops, on roads built to handle buses- and ways to get kids in a community to know each other. We need to find ways to build relationships back into the neighborhoods- since when you get right down to it- people are always what make a city, what make a neighborhood- not the buildings and certainly not the politicians.

I was talking about the cost of summer and the summer slide 25 years ago. Here’s a bit from an article from the New York Times about “The families that can’t afford summer” – which is most of Dayton:

Most American schools take a 10- to 11-week break during the summer. The assumption that underlies summer vacation — that there is one parent waiting at home for the kids — is true for just over a quarter of American families. For the rest of us, the children are off, the parents are not. We can indulge our annual illusion of children filling joyful hours with sprinkler romps and robotics camp or we can admit the reality: Summer’s supposed freedom is expensive.

In 2014, parents reported planning to spend an average of $958 per child on summer expenses. Those who can’t afford camps or summer learning programs cobble together care from family members or friends, or are forced to leave children home alone. Self-care for 6- to 12-year-olds increases during the summer months, with 11 percent of children spending an average of 10 hours a week on their own. In July 2014, a South Carolina woman was arrested when she left her 9-year-old in a park while she worked. Parents afraid of being at the center of a similar incident may be more likely to park their kids in front of the TV.In summer, the lack of affordable child care and the achievement gap collide for lower income families. Most kids lose math skills over the summer, but low income children also lose, on average, more than two months of reading skills — and they don’t gain them back. That puts them nearly three years behind higher income peers by the end of fifth grade, and the gap just keeps getting wider. Researchers credit the summer slide for about half of the overall difference in academic achievement between lower and higher income students.

Source: The Families That Can’t Afford Summer – The New York Times

Arguments can be made for a 5 day school week with year round school until DPS comes out of academic emergency- but, moving to a full, real world work world for teachers would be a monumental struggle. There is a beauty to the four day work week- look at what Dayton did with trash collection savings. When you have a Tues-Friday schedule- all those national holidays except the 4th of July, Thanksgiving and Christmas and New years- all become standard days off.

We need a radical fix for Dayton Public Schools. Anyone who thinks more money is going to fix it is delusional- because you can’t sell the same inferior product with a higher cost to voters- they will vote with their feet, just throwing Dayton deeper into the hole.

As to the City levy- the only way I’d support it if it included a rescission of all property tax abatements for companies with employees making more than $250K a year. We’re not subsidizing the rich on the backs of the poor anymore- and this goes for non-profits and schools as well. When you realize that half of the income for the hospitals is tax dollars for medicare, and the universities are heavily subsidized with grants and loans for students- it’s time to stop padding pockets into the stratosphere on the backs of the little people. The Brexit vote should be a good clue to politicians world wide that the working class is fed up with the redistribution of wealth and the widening gap.

We’ve been sold Sinclair as our savior against kids unprepared for the workforce for years, instead of making sure a high school diploma still meant something.

It’s time to reinvent our idea of school, and of how to help the poor get a real chance at not following in their parents footsteps- neither the city or the DPS tax plan will do anything to substantially revamp the equation, nor spells out actual mechanics of making it happen.

Look at my old campaign literature- and realize you missed out on 25 years of forward thinking and let’s get busy making real changes happen.

 

 

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