Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Convocation 2016 - "To Empower A Community of Learners Who Will Change the World".

This week, I had the high honor of addressing the faculty and staff of the Worthington School District during our annual school kickoff event known as Convocation. The event is part pep-rally, part tradition and part serious talk. There are lots of things I could have focused on during my 7 minutes of fame, but I decided to focus on the district's new mission statement which is: 

To Empower a Community of Learners who will change the world. 

My message had two main parts - the world-changing role of teachers, aides and public education in general in our society and what specifically it means to change the world. 

The opportunity to provide this message is one of highlights of my time on Worthington's Board. It was an opportunity to take a step back from the day to day, week to week routine of serving on a Board of Education and focus on what the heck we are really doing here. Here's the speech. 
Good Morning. My name is Marc Schare and I have the honor of serving as the President of the Worthington Board of Education this year.

I’ll start my remarks with a bit of a confession. I’m really not one for corporate mission/vision statements. In my experience in corporate America, large companies spend a lot of time creating an utterly meaningless statement that is forgotten as soon as it is introduced. Still, when our new Superintendent told our board that he wanted to go through yet another visioning process, I thought it was harmless. A few months went by and I didn’t really think much more about it. Dr. Bowers would send the Board updates periodically and a few of us went to a few of the community meetings and finally, one cold day last February, Trent sends an email announcing the mission statement.

To empower a community of learners who will change the world

What an audacious goal, I thought.  Aspirational to be sure. Thought provoking? Absolutely!  But seriously, as my inner voice debated with itself – how many Worthington students will, in the fullness of time, change the world and what does that even mean. Ultimately, I decided that it was not only meaningful, not only actionable but absolutely essential to what we do here and  I thought I’d take my allotment of time to opine why this mission statement, unlike so many others in corporate America, should be taken seriously as a foundational, governing document. To do so, I thought I would channel my inner “Trent Bowers” and tell you a story.

I went to small, private high school on Staten Island in New York and didn’t have any real opportunities to explore career options until I was a freshman in college. My first year, I signed up for mostly introductory classes at my community college turned 4-year school because that’s what you did in the 70’s but there were really only two classes that I was looking forward to. The first, and I know this is going to shock you, was Politics 101 and the other was Computer Science 101. I had zero exposure to either area before college since my high school offered neither. In my political science class, from day one until day whatever, the professor stood in front of the classroom literally reading the textbook to us. There was no inspiration, no passion, little discussion and he didn’t care if you showed up or not, and this was in the middle of the Presidential Campaign between Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford. I did poorly on the final examination despite getting every answer correct because I missed the instruction in the beginning that said I needed to write in complete sentences so although I knew that Carl Albert was the Speaker of the House, since I didn’t write “Carl Albert is the Speaker of the House of Representatives”, I was marked wrong on every question and very nearly failed the class for that reason. I do not remember the instructor’s name, only that I swore I wasn’t going to take another class like that again. The next semester, I took Computer Science 101 and fell in love with it immediately. The professor was Mimi Tausner and she was able to take what for most was an incredibly dry subject and make it come alive for me. She was so inspirational that I did numerous extra credit assignments for her, including programming a horse race prediction program among other notable accomplishments that first year. Professor Tausner is the reason why I went into computer software as a profession and I’ve always thought that if Professor Tausner brought her passion to Politics 101 and Professor Politics brought his drudgery to Computer Science 101, my entire career and life would have been very, very different. Such is the power you, as teachers,  hold in our society and it is an awesome power to literally change the direction of a student’s life in a few short months.

But, does changing that life mean changing the world? Well. That brings me to Part 2 of my story. Fast forward 5 years and I was working in Bell Labs as a systems programmer working with really, really powerful mainframes. I noticed that we were doing all kinds of repetitive, operational tasks manually that could be done more accurately and more efficiently by the machine itself. A few years and a lot of 1am to 7am programming time later, the world’s first commercially available automated operations package for IBM mainframe computers was born. A few years after that, it and the competition it inspired was running in a thousand companies  across the planet and changed the way that people thought about operating these large scale computers.  I don’t know if that is a “change the world” story but I’m pretty sure it’s as a close as I’m going to get. One thing  I know for certain  is that it would not have happened if Professor Mimi Tausner didn’t spend time with  an awkward 17 year old kid who had a really tough time in high school, never took an AP class or any advanced coursework for that matter, never took the SAT and yet somehow, she  ignited a passion I didn’t know I had. Maybe I didn’t change the world, but she sure changed my world, an opportunity you will have every day throughout your careers as educators. The moral of my story, not to beat you over the head with it, is that you never, ever know what word, what action, what combination of events is going to inspire some student into performing some world-changing action.

To Empower a Community of Learners that will change the world

A few weeks ago, I had a long conversation, coincidentally, with a 20 something year old Worthington graduate who was expressing personal angst that he had not yet changed the world and accomplished something significant. Eventually, the conversation came around to exactly what “changing the world” means.  Does it mean solving some intractable global problem like world hunger or clean water? Does it mean directly influencing global public policy?  Does it mean you have to invent something that positively impacts the lives of millions of people? My answer is no, not necessarily. My fondest wish for our students is that armed with what you provide them, they go out into the world and, to the best of their ability, change *their* world in positive ways, whatever that might mean to the individual, and if it has some broader significance to our society, so much the better. Some of our students will change their world through good works afforded via financial success. Others will, I’m quite certain, achieve scientific breakthroughs (in fact, I saw one at last year’s science fair).  Still others will be known locally, nationally or globally for their abilities in the arts but virtually everyone who walks through the door of one of our buildings this week will change the world as perceived by their parents, their relatives, their professional colleagues and later on, their children. How they do that is up to them, and you.

I really believe that every single one of our students walking into each of your classrooms, getting on each of your buses, eating one of your lunches, playing on one of your teams or participating in one of your activities has the God given potential to change the world but it is up to you, teachers, aides, drivers, secretaries, custodians and administrators of the Worthington School District to find and ignite within that student the passion, drive and commitment necessary to maximize their own world-changing abilities, just like it was up to Professor Mimi Tausner to do so with me.

No, I’m not one for corporate mission statements, but this one works for me because it so encapsulates why we are here, why you became educators, why I ran for the school board in the first place and how our district will ultimately be successful and how, honestly, that success should be measured. On behalf of the Board of Education, thank you for your attention, we look forward with you to the start of the school year and most of all, we wish you Godspeed in your mission to empower a community of learners who will change the world.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

You say you want a resolution

A few weeks back, I attended a meeting of the Worthington Area Democratic Club (WADC) where the featured speaker was Dr. Bill Phillis. Dr. Phillis works today to eliminate charter schools in the state of Ohio. As part of his efforts, he convinced a number of Boards of Education throughout the state to pass a resolution invoicing the state for the amount of money the state used for charter school tuition in that district. There have been a number of requests, both at that meeting and through social media, for Worthington to pass a similar resolution.  I wanted to use this blog post to provide some personal philosophy on this.

Worthington has passed several  resolutions in my time on the Board. A few months back, we passed a resolution calling for a line-item veto override of the Governor's veto on TPP reimbursement funding. We also passed a resolution calling for a change for how the state implements charter school funding, essentially calling for the state to fund charter schools directly rather than using the public school district as a middleman. Going back a few years, we passed a resolution in opposition to the Ohio School Boards Association decision to allow questionable investments with defacto public money and we passed a resolution in opposition to HB597, a piece of disastrous legislation that would have crippled our district's ability to deliver a quality education for years to come by repealing Common Core, negating years of hard work on the part of our teachers designing a local curriculum and requiring 3 different sets of standards within a 5 year period.

So what is the difference between these resolutions and the requests for us to pass a resolution invoicing the state for charter school tuition?  For me, the difference is simple. Invoicing the state for charter school tuition is a stunt designed to grab headlines but it is not a serious attempt at changing or influencing public policy. No one believes the state is going to pay those invoices and while I appreciate the point those districts are trying to make, it does not serve to advance their cause.

In my experience, when our Board passes a resolution, it is a serious request for somebody to do something. We use the resolution sparingly, but when we use it, we mean it. I would hate for those efforts to be cheapened by engaging in political theatrics, regardless of how tempting the target may be.

Let me digress for a moment and point out that our resolutions usually pass unanimously despite a Board that includes representation from both major parties. I'm proud that at least in Worthington, education is not a partisan issue. Right is right and wrong is wrong regardless of political affiliation. Given our board's representation across the political spectrum, when we come together on a critical statewide issue, it is generally the right thing to do.

When Worthington passes a resolution, it empowers our administration to use their resources to gather support through the various education groups in the state. It empowers BOE members to testify as to the content of the resolution to legislative committees on behalf of the board, not just as individuals and it alerts our legislative representatives that a given policy position is something our district expects them to act on.

Let me offer one example. When Worthington passed its resolution about TPP reimbursements, a Democrat, Rep. David Leland and a Republican, Rep. Mike Duffey, were both in the room listening to our discussion and they both committed to address the issue with the legislature. A few months later, the legislature did, in fact, pass a revised TPP phaseout schedule resulting in Worthington receiving an additional 7 million dollars over the next 5 years. I don't expect that everything our district asks for via the resolution will be granted, but I do expect that our resolutions will be taken seriously by those in power at the state house. Passing feel-good resolutions such as invoicing the state for charter school tuition would detract from the serious policy discussions that need to take place. There continue to be ongoing discussions about charter school funding in the legislature and my hope is that our district's resolution will articulate our preferred solution in a way that simply sending an invoice does not.

All that said, our entire board does take constituent requests very seriously and I imagine we  will consider resolutions that community groups want us to pass, so don't be shy about asking. The above should be considered Marc's personal philosophy which may or may not be reflective of my colleagues on the Board. Agree or disagree, I wanted to let you know where I stood. Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Governor vetoes Worthington's TPP reimbursement.

Worthington residents awoke this morning to the news that Governor Kasich has line item vetoed the TPP reimbursements that the Ohio House, Ohio Senate and Conference Committee had all agreed to. In his veto message, the Governor believes that Worthington has the "capacity" to raise those funds locally and therefore, that money should go to poorer districts.

I have a few thoughts to share. First, the money isn't actually going to poorer districts, it's staying in the state treasury unless appropriated somewhere else.

Second, I've been saying for years that Worthington (Dublin, Hilliard, Olentangy) should not believe that higher state taxes necessarily leads to more aid for the school district. A local levy is the only surefire way to know that your tax dollars are going to your school district. Statewide taxes are always going to be redistributed away from suburban school districts like Worthington.

Third, it's now clear that the phaseout on Tangible Personal Property Tax reimbursements will continue as scheduled until Worthington's entire 10 million dollar annual allocation is eliminated. This has already been accounted for in our forecasting models so it doesn't change the levy timeline, but that doesn't make it any less disappointing. The message from the Kasich administration is that more affluent districts are on their own.

The statewide education groups that we hang out with are going to check into the possibility of a legislative override to the veto. Under Ohio law, it takes 60% of the legislature to override the veto. Since 60% of the legislature voted for these funds in the first place, you would think an override would be easy, but I'm pretty sure that Speaker Rosenberger and President Faber would never embarrass the Governor by allowing the vote.

I can't put a dollar figure yet on how much the veto costs us, but as we already accounted for it in the forecast, it won't affect operations or any current budget.

Finally, I'd be remiss to once again not thank State Rep Mike Duffey for ensuring the TPP hold harmless made it into the House version of the budget. The Governor's veto extends to the second year of the biennium, so in "Glass Half Full" mode, it can be correctly stated that Rep. Duffey did manage to secure a few million dollars for us in 2016 that we weren't counting on, and as with all TPP replacement funds, that money will go into the district's contingency fund which is used to delay the next levy.

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Cost of Calamity Days.

This blog post was inspired by a Columbus Dispatch article dated February 21, 2014 where the Dispatch, in response to comments from members of the legislature, tried to tally up the cost of calamity days in Ohio. The article is here:

The line that got me was this one:

They used numbers that ranged from $460 million to $700 million that they said would be wasted if teachers were paid for four days — in addition to the five allowed now — when classes are canceled for bad weather.

“If you divide the 184 days into the billions and billions … we spend (on education), I’m told you spend about $115 million a day,” Rep. Lynn Wachtmann, R-Napoleon, said during the debate on Wednesday.

The calculation - divide the total cost of education by the number of days of education to get the per day cost - makes sense if education employees were producing cars and the factories had to run a certain number of days to produce a certain number of cars, however, I don't really think education works that way. I think that over the course of a semester or a school year, the content that needs to be taught is taught. You don't get 0.5% better an education for each made up calamity day in quite the same way that you can produce 0.5% more cars if the factory ran an extra day. If only it was that easy, right?

The question is (or should be) - how many days or hours are required to teach the board (community) approved curriculum? It may very well be 180, but it could also be 160 or 200. Given the major shift in Ohio education brought about by Common Core and given that this is the first year that a full Common Core based (though locally developed) curriculum is being taught, I don't think anyone knows. This will come over time, with experience. It's also obvious that education is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. When you build a car, it takes the same amount of time to build each car and each car turns out more or less the same. Educating children, when each child is a unique entity with their own talents, hopes, dreams, fears and needs, is a bit more complex and logically would require a different amount of time for each kid to do the job.

The legislation (HB416) passed by the Ohio House allows that for calamity days 8 and 9, teachers must report for work for training purposes. If you listen to the debate on the House Floor, it was clear that the motivating factor was to make sure that the state got their moneys worth out of teachers for the year. Makes sense, you say, so why do I find this disturbing?

Teachers are white collar professional workers with a unique skill set. Each year, their task is to teach the required curriculum. If they can do that in 160 days, that's great. If it takes a full 180 days, that's OK and if takes 200 days, they should be willing to do that as well. It's not about "getting our money worth", its about making sure that each kid has had sufficient time in school and/or online and with teachers to absorb a differentiated curriculum tailored to the individual student so they can be the most successful in the current year and future years. In other words, it should be the result that matters. We pay teachers an annual salary to achieve a result and as long as that result is achieved, does it really matter if teachers get to stay home when it snows?

So, you might be asking yourself why it does matter - why are so many people concerned about whether teachers report to work on calamity days. Ironically, it's because of the teachers themselves, or rather, their unions. Virtually every teacher union contract in the state treats our professional teachers as if they were blue collar assembly line workers. The contracts rigidly mandate the number of days worked, the number of hours worked, the number of minutes that teachers must be in training, the number of minutes a teacher gets for lunch, length of recess and so forth. Don't believe it? Read this excerpt  or this excerpt from the Columbus Education Association contract with Columbus City Schools. This rigidity makes perfect sense in a factory where if someone is off the line, the necessary result cannot be achieved but it makes absolutely no sense in providing an education for children in the year 2014, especially given our connected society where learning can continue online, through text messages to teachers, email exchanges on Saturdays or at 3am and so forth.

What needs to happen in my opinion is that we need a whole new paradigm when it comes to thinking about time in schools. Most teachers, at least in Worthington,  work very hard to make sure that kids get the material they need. Most teachers work tirelessly to differentiate instruction and provide enrichment opportunities for advanced learners and most teachers are relentless at helping struggling learners reach mastery in a given subject. Frankly, we should expect nothing less of professional educators. Given this professional relationship, I would personally never demand that teachers report to work for training on calamity days 8 and 9 as HB416 allows. Instead, I would expect that whatever professional training is required for teachers to do their jobs well, they obtain.  I, for one, refuse to treat professional educators as assembly line workers and I hope that one day, throughout the country, our professional educators no longer treat themselves as assembly line workers.

When they day happens, when both school district management and teachers can focus on the results and not so much whether we are getting our moneys worth by counting every minute teachers are on or off the job, education in this country will have taken a giant step forward.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Feeling like a Million Bucks.

The State of Ohio has not had a school funding formula last more than just a few years in quite some time. Every 2 years seems to bring us another biennial budget with its share of winners and losers as the formula is changed.

While the legislature and the Ohio Department of Education produce simulations, conservative treasurers will always wait until the money starts flowing before incorporating the numbers into projections.  For this cycle, that first payment happened last week and the financial news appears to continue to be very good for Worthington.

Here are the summaries. The first is from the "Bridge" report that detailed our state foundation funding and deductions from 2011. The second is from the new funding report in October of 2013.

Worthington State Funding 2011-2012 and 2012-2013

Worthington State Funding 2013-2014 and 2014-2015

So the numbers are as follows:
Previous Budget:  Total Foundation Funding before deductions: $13,818,020
                              Total Foundation Funding after deductions:     $10,891,501
New State Budget Total Foundation Funding before deductions: $14,681,693
New State Budget Total Foundation Funding after    deductions: $11,936,511
To be sure, these are unofficial projections based solely on the data from ODE.  Our Treasurer will be updating the Board with his official projections later this month. The numbers will be vetted through the Treasurer's Advisory Committee at a meeting on October 21 and be the main topic of the Board Meeting on October 28.
Unofficially, though, this is a difference to the bottom line of $1,045,010 for the first year. That's a little over a million dollars a year  of unanticipated revenue that can be use for programmatic expansion or saved for a rainy day. Please note that these funds are over and above the funds that Worthington will receive from the permanent reimbursement of the Tangible Personal Property Tax now ensconced in state law.
The news gets even better!  Worthington's state foundation funding was "Capped Out". The state, in an attempt to conserve funds, ruled that no school district would receive more than a 6.25% increase between this year and last year, even if it would receive more funds under the formula. As you can see from the second chart, the calculated formula number is closer to $19,000,000. Since the cap is 10.5% in the second year of the biennium, Worthington should receive another increase for the 2014-2015 school year.
All of this good news is why I continue to believe we will have sufficient revenue (again, assuming current state law is maintained with regard to TPP reimbursements)  to extend the 2012 levy until at least 2017 and maybe 2018 while also having sufficient funds for programmatic expansion such as the reintroduction of a foreign language program in the elementary grades.


Friday, September 20, 2013


In November of 2012, Worthington City School district  residents passed an incremental operating levy.  Our district had made a case that reductions at the state level, particularly in regard to tangible personal property tax reimbursements, were going to result in a significant funding drop which, if quality was to be maintained, would have to be restored at the local level. At the time, it was a perfectly valid assumption. In fact, prior to voting to place the levy on the ballot, State Representative Mike Duffey had arranged a conference call between me and the chairman of the Ohio House Budget Committee,  and Chairman Amstutz told me directly that it was more likely than not that Worthington's TPP revenue from the state would be phased out. In addition, we made some other assumptions in advance of placing that levy on the ballot. We assumed there would be no retirements from the Worthington School District, or, more correctly, we conservatively did not include those in the forecast used to determine the levy amount. We also forecasted some steep increases in employee health care costs.

Fast forward a year. The levy has passed and, in the fullness of time, we now know how our assumptions panned out.  
  • TPP Reimbursements were not phased out and current state law says that they are not going to be phased out. Assuming state law is not changed, this will result in 22.2 million dollars of unforecasted revenue to the district in the next 4 years, and approximately 10 million dollars a year after that.
  • We had over 100 certified staff retire. This will result in considerable savings each year. In fact, our average teacher salary dropped $2,500 in the last year alone.
  • We are anticipating around $400K/year in casino money. That money was not yet forecasted when we determined the levy amount.
  • Our health care renewal rate was forecasted to be 13%. Because of our lower-than-expected claims experience, it turned out to be 3.56%.

Now, it is time to do some long term financial planning. When will the Worthington School District have to run another levy.

First, let's figure out where we are. If you want to know when the next Worthington levy will be required, you must first calculate a target cash balance that you want to maintain at all times. The Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) recommends 60 days of expenditures while the credit agencies say that 5% is fine. We'll go with GFOA for the purpose of this exercise.  Once we find the first year when we no longer have that 60 days of operating expenses in the bank, the rule of thumb is that we back it up 2 years and that would be the year that we need to run the next levy.

So, with all the good financial news, let's get to work calculating when that next levy might be required. For the purposes of this exercise, I am going to be really, really conservative and only use the TPP reimbursements as a modification to the forecast that was passed in May of 2013. If we do this, we would take the ending cash balance at FY17 in the lower right hand corner of the link, which is 24.3 million dollars and add the 22.2 million dollars above, giving us a total of 46.5 million dollars. This is above our rule of thumb, so no levy is required in 2015.

Since this forecast only runs through 2017, we need to approximate what other years of the forecast might look like. Being ultra conservative, we anticipate virtually no new revenue from anywhere (note: the treasurer does assume a small amount of incremental revenue from "inside millage")  and we anticipate expense growth at the projected rate in 2017, which is 3.2%. Let's do that for three additional years, FY18, FY19 and FY20. When we do this, we get a very rough forecast that looks like this.

The resulting forecast has a chart showing the following ending cash balances.

Worthington School
 District *Unofficial*
7 year projection with TPP reimbursements

The blue line represents the projected end-of-year cash balances assuming the state keeps its hands off of our TPP reimbursement revenue and that we keep expenses growing at a modest rate of about 3.2% after 2017, or roughly 150% of the current inflation rate.

So where am I going with this?   

Last year, when voting to put the levy on the ballot, I proposed making a promise to the taxpayer that if TPP reimbursements did continue at a pace higher than that forecasted, the Board and the administration make a commitment to save those dollars and put them towards extending the life of this levy. The board did not want to entertain such a promise at that time, but I want to renew that proposal, and here is why.

Voters in Worthington agreed to provide our district with additional operating funds because the district told them that the state was severely cutting our funding.  That message was in virtually every levy communication, and rightly so. Had the state actually cut our funding and without the levy funds, it would have been a scary proposition.  In fact, the district said in numerous forums that we would have to cut 10 million dollars out of the budget over the next several years.  In the fullness of time, we now know that the state funding wasn't cut, so the question becomes: What should the Worthington School District do with the windfall? In my opinion,  the right thing to do  is to honor that campaign message, preserve the bulk of those funds,  and extend the length of this levy.  

So how do we make that happen?  If there is one observation I’d make about government at all levels, Republicans, Democrats and everyone in between, if you’ve got money, you spend money. It’s human nature. That’s why I believe that if extending the life of this levy is to be a management objective, it must be stated as such and management must be held accountable for the results.

The primary vehicle the Board Of Education has to hold administration accountable for results is through the Ohio Superintendent Evaluation System.  OSES provides for a set of goals for the Superintendent to accomplish each year. At the August 26, 2013 BOE meeting, I proposed that one of the goals be in the area of resource management that, simply stated, the district be managed in such a way as to not require an operating levy until 2018. The annual, measurable objective (part of OSES) would be to maintain a sufficient cash balance and five year forecast consistent with that goal.

Obviously, it is a long time between now and 2018 and many things can happen. The goal would have to make allowances for unexpected events. The state could decide tomorrow to cut our funding in half, or issue a series of unfunded mandates. Goals are not meant to be completely inflexible, only to publicly express intentions.

I also want to emphasize the point that this goal  does not mean we won't have money for new initiatives. Quite the opposite. Remember, this calculation only includes TPP reimbursements. We have savings from retirements and much lower then expected health care costs, we have revenue from  casino operations and ODE is estimating an additional 1 million dollars a year in state aid that we can use towards new programming. We are applying for grants from the Ohio's new "Straight 'A' fund". We also have bond money for technology capital equipment purchases.

The intent of the goal is not to starve the district of needed revenue, it is merely to state an intention that since the assumptions we documented vis-a-vis state funding to pass the levy in 2012 turned out inaccurate, we use some of the difference to extend the life of the levy, and 2018 is where the math says it would end up using the same rule of thumb that we've used in past levy cycles.

On Monday, September 23, the Board of Education will discuss and perhaps vote on the goals. The resource management goal, as written, is to extend the life of the levy until (at least) November of 2017. Whether we ultimately wind up agreeing on 2018, 2017 or 2019, the important thing is the philosophy of preserving the unanticipated TPP reimbursement revenues to give Worthington taxpayers a respite from the 3 year levy cycle.  By doing so, we have the opportunity to maintain credibility with our constituents and preserve the hard-won trust of our taxpayers, trust that will be necessary the next time we come to voters with a levy request. That's why I pushed for the resource management goal this year and that's why I will be supporting it on Monday.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Conflict of Interest.

One of the rituals for School Board Candidates in Worthington is the screening/interview process for potential endorsement by the Worthington Education Association, also known as our local teacher's union. The endorsement generally comes with a campaign donation.

I've screened with the WEA before and even received their endorsement in 2005. This year, I decided not to screen and not to accept the endorsement even if it was offered. This is the letter I wrote to Mark Hill, the President of the WEA explaining my reasons.

Mark -

Thank you for the offer to screen for the endorsement of the Worthington Education Association in the upcoming school board election. I regret that I must decline, and I thought I'd take a few moments to explain why.

There is nothing wrong with an employee association endorsing candidates at any level. There is, however, in my opinion, an ethical problem for a school board candidate seeking or accepting an endorsement, let alone money, from an organization representing individuals where an employer/employee relationship exists.

In the weeks, months and years to come, the Worthington Board of Education will be called upon to negotiate salaries, benefits and working conditions in good faith with the WEA, to ensure fairness to both employee and constituent in personnel matters, to ensure both fairness and efficacy in employee evaluations and vote on or get involved with a myriad of other issues that directly impact the members of your organization. The Worthington community needs to know that any decisions I make have not been influenced by your endorsement or a campaign contribution and the only way to absolutely guarantee that is to not participate in this process.

That said, nothing in this letter should be construed as "Marc doesn't want to talk to the teachers". As you know, you and I have worked collaboratively in a variety of situations, including many years on the district's Shared Solutions Committee, Race to the Top committee and the Teacher Evaluation Design Committee. I would anticipate that such collaboration would continue if I am privileged enough to be re-elected.
Best wishes,
Marc Schare
Worthington Board of Education.
This was a personal decision. I am in no way suggesting that any of my fellow candidates would make decisions based on receiving (or not receiving) the endorsement or campaign contributions. I am saying that the practice of an employee union subject to collective bargaining essentially selecting their employers and then negotiating with those they selected is problematic. It is the very definition of a conflict of interest. The union has every right to endorse whoever they want - the conflict of interest is strictly on the candidate.
There are lot of perceptions, and misperceptions, about unions, both locally and across the state and the country. In my 8 years as a Board Member in Worthington, I've come to value our district's relationship (and my personal relationship) with our employee organizations. Obviously, strong relationships between the Board, administrators, teachers and other staff is essential to the learning process. My position on the endorsement is not intended as an anti-union statement. It is simply that Worthington School District residents have a right to know that my actions representing them will be free of any conflicts or even the appearance of a possible conflict of interest. You might agree or disagree, but that's why I made the decision I did.