School consolidation makes sense

To the editor:

As the November election results were tabulated, I watched as another of my alma mater’s hastily conceived levies failed. All the while, our democratically selected representatives in Ohio’s General Assembly continue to drunkenly campaign each election cycle on correcting the inherent flaws in the funding system that sources property taxes as the principal income generator for a school system. The failure of Edison Local’s levy is a specifically damaging effect to a school system that has always found resourceful ways to handle financial difficulties.

When the United States public education system was established, the core foundation of instruction was achieved through community involvement and control. During the last 50 years, the state and federal governments have interfered in our educational system at that basic level, forcing parents, teachers and students to compromise more and more for the common good, relying only on the compulsory requirement to teach to the content of a government mandated curriculum.

As an advocate of local control of education, what I am about to suggest contradicts my underlining belief in localized management of our education system.

With the writing so blatantly obvious on the wall, we must now follow through and act on a state study that was published nearly a quarter of a century ago, warning that the success of Jefferson County Schools was in jeopardy because of varying issues, relating to a dwindling population, a decreasing tax base and schools top-heavy with administration. At that time a recommendation was made for future consolidation that would possibly result in one or two public school systems in the county. The cost effectiveness of a solution that results in future consolidation would eliminate redundant administration, a leveled millage rate and create a larger pool of resources that would allow us to better finance the necessary education our students need.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a differing result. As local taxpayers continue to have their household budgets strained, our local school boards continue to ask for additional funds and continue to receive the same answer. With that being said, I hesitantly look toward our local education leaders to develop a new solution for success – one that looks outside the current playbook that suggests a yearly levy be placed on the ballot. Instead, let us look to a solution that will help stabilize funding and assist in helping our local children discover success.

Consolidation does not need to be an issue about old school rivalries and high school sports, but rather about the accomplishments of our children and the fiscal viability of the schools we operate. Our children are the most precious asset we have. By not providing for their education, we are ignoring just how important they truly are. We are continually told that we are failing because we do not pass levies, but in reality we are failing our friends, family and co-workers by overlooking legitimized needs to consolidate some of our schools.

Daniel Z. Jenkins