Thursday, April 28, 2005

I Want My MTV

Perhaps you've noticed the video tapes that have been floating around town the last day or two. These have been produced by some high school students (with some help). Below is a transcript of that video. Comments are italicised inline.

Win For Windham

Hi, I’m Lindsey Olson, a senior at the high school. A few of my friends and I have produced this video tape to tell you a little bit about the levy vote coming up on May 3rd.

First, a couple numbers for you, this emergency levy, which will run just five years, and then expire, is for 6.4 mills. Now, not everyone knows just what a mill is, so here’s a visual.

Here, we cut to a pathetic looking cheeseburger. Sad looking thing really. Poor guy doesn't even know he's being used as an indepth pie chart demonstrating the needs of an entire school discrict.

If your house is worth a hundred thousand, the amount of increase is equal to fifty-four cents, or one half of this cheeseburger. And a fifty thousand dollar house, one quarter of a cheeseburger is what the schools are asking for. Twenty-five to fifty-four cents a day to save your schools. That’s the bottom line. So now my friends will tell you a few things about what this levy means to Windham.

Quick point here. This is a very broad descriptoin. Of course, asking high school seniors to descibe the ins and outs of mlllage and tax levies could be a bit much to ask.

[Jeremy Evans]

Well as Lindsey said, the Board of Education needs 6.4 mills to keep the schools running. But up front, let’s be clear, that Windham has the second lowest tax rate in the entire county, but because Harbison-Walker is the only industry, we are rock bottom in the amount of money each of our mills generates, even less than farm districts, like Southeast and Waterloo. You know as well as we do that the state isn’t helping us with our general costs. They help us put up new buildings, then cut school funding so we can’t run them right. It’s a fact that state funding for the past two years has actually decreased, Windham gets less money than it did in 2003. And every year, they’re adding state mandated programs, but they’re not giving us the money to pay for them. It’s a shame that we couldn’t keep east open, and instead had to lease it to the county, now KT is not only overcrowded but if the levy fails, the board may have to cut seven more teaching positions over there.

Good points here, but didn't I just read that positions will be elimiated even if the levy passes? Details people! This is classic spin.

Do you know what seven fewer teachers does to class size? How can our town’s little kids get one-on-one, personal teaching when they’re packed in like sardines? And right now the budget is so tight that busing is limited to the two mile radius that meets state requirements.

My first grade had one teacher, and 28 students. That was in 1979. Let's talk sardines. Smaller classrooms too.

[Christiann Stanley]

So, what has the school board, your friends, and neighbors you elected to run the schools done to save money? Well, according to figures you can confirm yourself with Superintendent Niemiec, forty-four paid positions in the school have been eliminated in two years, folks, your Board of Education is looking out for your money, they know there’s none to throw away. Why just last year, they negotiated with the teachers to give up some of their health care benefits in exchange for a token 2.5% raise. You know what? The board saved thirty thousand dollars with just that one move. The honest truth is that people who work in Windham schools are the lowest paid in Portage County. If they couldn’t handle it, they’d leave, but they care as much about the schools as you do.

And everyone appreciates their raise being called a "token" raise. They're already the lowest paid in the county. But, you know, they can handle it. They'll just deal.

Now everybody wants to talk about sports. The whole town is proud of the great teams we’ve had, well, since 1940 according to the record books. Very few schools our size can claim the kind of history we have. But you know what? Our volleyball team, our football team, our basketball team could have been even better if 19 different coaching positions hadn’t been eliminated in the past two years. It’s a testament to the guts and courage of our guys and girls, but now, if the levy fails comes the added obstacle of “pay to participate”. What’s “pay to participate”? Every athlete has to pay to be on a team, if not enough kids come out to pay for the expenses like transportation and a coach, that team probably won’t exist anymore.

We asked two of Windham’s top scholar-athletes to tell us what being a Bomber has meant to them.

Jim Sands, chosen as all-Ohio first team all state in football, is going to Carnegie Mellon Pittsburgh, one of the top universities in the entire country.

Jim, how did Windham get you ready for such a prestigious college?

Windham’s prepared me in many ways. The teachers here and coaches here go out of the way, they care a lot about you and being in that kind of environment helps you to succeed and excel.

Ali Roach is a two time first team volleyball player, as well as the reigning Homecoming Queen.

Ali, what has it meant to you over the years to wear the black and gold of the Windham Bombers?

Well I am very proud just to be part of the Windham sports program. I mean I’ve had wonderful coaches and teammates and I couldn’t imaging having a better experience. The memories I’ve made here couldn’t be better and they’re going to stay with me the rest of my life.

[cue ominous picture of a chorus practice]

And there’s one more nasty thing about paying to participate. Its not just about sports, but all extracurriculars. Every single student in Windham history has had the chance to excel in every area they wanted to, but not anymore, not if the levy fails.

Marching band and choir are never specifically mentioned, with seeming purpose.

[Josh Sweet]

We could talk for hours to talk about levy specifics, but we just don’t have the time. Any questions you have about taxes or anything you need to know to convince you that schools are not crying wolf, you can contact Superintendent Niemiec and ask him anytime of day and get an honest straightforward answer. Nobody has anything to hide.

Well since time is short we asked come community members, people we respect, whether they think the levy is vital to the future of our schools, and our village

[Jim Moore]

Well financed schools means that our children will have a good education, the same as we had, which they deserve, it also means the property values in the village and the township will be maintained and hopefully grow in value. It will prevent parents moving away from Windham to better schools, which would cause lower revenues for our community, and it would also, good financed schools and good education would also help bring more parents and children to this community.

Jim was standing in front of that lovely "100 Days of Summer" that has been up since last year. It was always fun to drive by the police station and see it defying Mother Nature in the dead of winter. That'll teach her!

[Bill Isler]

We’ve been in business in the Windham area for over 35 years, and we’ve used 11 or 12 of the highschool boys as they’ve graduated. I find them to be consistently honest, trustworthy, we use all kinds of equipment that they’re responsible for, they seem to want to research, they work hard, they seem to have integrity, and I attribute that to the schools plus their home life, I think we’ve got good kids here who go to good schools, and I’ve been very pleased with them in the workforce.

Windham used to be a much simpler place. Dirt roads ran towards the farm which the arsenal took from us. East Center Street used to have a stagecoach stop and every student went to a single building most voters no longer even remember brought there not by buses, but by horse drawn wagons.

So if we still had the dirt roads, the farm, and no arsenal, would our problems be solved?

Times have changed, but change comes at a price. The Windham Schools promise you that they’ve done all that they can with what they have. And without your help, the Windham Schools, now nearly 200 years old, may not be able to survive.

On May 3, we are asking for your help. All but two of the students that you’ve seen are seniors. We’re old enough to vote, and we appreciate what the Windham schools have given us. We already care about the next generation would like you to join us to face a future. We can make a stand, and we can say that Bomber pride is as strong as ever.
Overall, a pretty good performance, considering everything.

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