March 8, 2018
School Funding Model: Why School Districts Ask Voters To Approve Property Tax Levies
The Maumee City Schools Board of Education voted to place a 5.9-mill operating levy on the May 8, 2018 ballot. This decision was made following many discussions, two financial retreats and a long and thoughtful public meeting in January. Ultimately, board members decided that despite cost-savings measures implemented since passage of a levy four years ago, the district will need to significantly alter the quality of education we offer (by making additional cuts to educational and extracurricular programming) or ask the community to support a tax levy. Districts Have Two Budgeting Options: Make Cuts Or Seek Property Tax Levies The cost to educate Maumee’s children is significant and costs continue to rise as we strive to meet the needs of all students. Maumee City Schools has a $31 million annual operating budget. While it is difficult to understand the complexities of how Ohio schools are funded, it is also critical that taxpayers understand school funding in order to be well-informed. The State Expects Local Taxpayers To Significantly Fund Their Schools Ohio intends for there to be a “partnership” between the state and local taxpayers. The way overall funding for individual school districts is split between these two partners is based primarily on each district’s capacity to raise revenue locally. Ohio has mandated that school districts with a higher capacity to pay (those deemed wealthier districts as calculated by the state on a per-pupil basis) are expected to generate more revenue from local residents, in the form of property taxes, than are poorer districts. The split in costs is based on the state’s school funding formula and it is not negotiable. State per-pupil funding accounts for only 19 percent of the total annual revenue Maumee receives for general operations of the school district. Maumee’s aid from the state of Ohio is expected to remain fairly static in the coming years; and over the past seven years, under the current school funding formula, the state will say that basic state aid increased by a $1.7 million (when considering lottery and casino funds received). However, over these same seven years, the state reduced the Commercial Activity Tax reimbursement they once paid to us by more than $2.3 million. Maumee Is Landlocked One way that school districts can gain a new source of revenue is through construction of new homes and new businesses in the district. Unlike many surrounding school districts, however, Maumee is a landlocked community with very little land remaining for growth and new construction. Therefore, gaining revenue via this option is basically eliminated for us. Three Main Drivers Of Expenses: What The District Can & Can’t Control There are three main drivers of costs for the district: employee salaries and benefits, state-mandated spending, and classroom materials and supplies. While we have made reductions in expenditures, approximately $1.5 million since 2014, which includes the reduction of 15 positions, these reductions have often been met with an increase in base costs. Maumee’s largest “state-mandated spending” is to pay for Maumee resident students who attend school outside the district, either for special needs, taking college courses while still in high school (college credit plus program), attending a community/charter school or attending an online school. During the 2016-17 school year, Maumee spent approximately $972,500 on these mandated services. Why The Maumee School District Is On The May 2018 Ballot Without a new levy, operating funds will continue to decline toward zero over the next two years, despite all the cost-saving measures we have already taken. Thus, we need to be proactive and make a 5.9-mill levy request this May. Since property taxes are levied and collected in arrears, the school district will not receive full funding from this levy until 2020. Contact Us Any Time With Questions Or Visit Us On Wednesday, April 18 If you have questions about the innovative, high-quality education taking place in Maumee City Schools, or the resources that support the district, please let us know. You can call or e-mail any time: Paul Brotzki, treasurer, (419) 893-3200 or email@example.com; or Todd Cramer, superintendent, (419) 893-3200 or firstname.lastname@example.org. We will also be at the Maumee Branch Library on Wednesday, April 18 from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. if you want to come in and talk with us in person to get your questions answered. Thank you for taking time to review this information.
March 1, 2018
Maumee District Superintendent Declines Annual Salary Increase
BY NANCY GAGNET | MIRROR REPORTER — Maumee City Schools Superintendent Dr. Todd Cramer will not be getting a raise this year, but it isn’t because he doesn’t deserve one. It is because he chose not to take one. Dr. Cramer, who is paid an annual salary of $128,750, could have received an increase of up to 3 percent, which would have brought his salary to $132,612. Instead, Cramer told the school board prior to his annual evaluation that if offered, he would decline a raise. “Given our current economic forecast and in recognizing the sacrifices employees across the district are making, I felt it was the right thing to do,” Cramer said. “We are all doing our best to make a difference for our students by providing an innovative, high-quality education as well as first-class facilities and I feel strongly that this should take priority over me receiving a raise given our financial forecast.” The Maumee school district will seek voter approval of a 5.9-mill operating levy in May. If passed, the levy would generate approximately $2.44 million in additional revenue for the district and would keep the district solvent through the next four years. School board president Mike Wiley said that Dr. Cramer would have received a raise. “The board is very pleased with Dr. Cramer’s performance. He continues to move this district forward, making Maumee City Schools one of the finest districts in Northwest Ohio. The board will work with Dr. Cramer on his goals for his next evaluation in February of 2019,” he said. District treasurer Paul Brotzki has long maintained that decreases in state funding are the reason for the shortfall in district revenue. A decline of $2.3 million over the last seven years has taken place with the elimination of the commercial activity tax. The state has also calculated a funding formula that says the district should receive $7.6 million annually but it only funds the district $5.4 million because Maumee is a “capped district,” he said. Cost-control strategies and reductions in spending have been implemented, resulting in a $1.5 million decrease in the budget. Beginning in the 2015-16 school year, 14 staff positions were eliminated, including seven tutors, one central administrator, one Gateway in-school reassignment teacher and five classroom teachers across various grade levels. The central office administrator and three of the teachers were eliminated through attrition, meaning that they were never replaced after they retired, Brotzki said. Through previous contract negotiations with respective unions, neither teaching nor operational staff received a pay increase this year, and employees paid more for their health care costs. All administrators also agreed to a salary freeze this year, he said.
November 16, 2017
Data Collection, Goal Setting, Snow Days And An Open Invitation Into Our Schools
BY DR. TODD CRAMER | Superintendent Maumee City Schools — I would like to begin by thanking the entire community for your support of “We Are Maumee” Week as declared by Mayor Carr during the last week of October. It was impressive to see so many signs in shop windows and yards as visitors came across the bridge into uptown Maumee. As you know, the bell returned home on October 27. It is repainted purple and gold, signed by the 2017 football team and on display for all to see. Thank you for showing your spirit and supporting our students! Data Collection & Goal Setting Each year around this time, we engage in a data collection designed to provide critical feedback as we move the district forward. In the coming month, we will distribute parent and student surveys, as well as administer assessments designed to provide us with important academic data. This survey and assessment data is reviewed and interpreted at both the district and building level. We use this information as we reflect upon our strategic plans and determine progress toward meeting established and measurable goals. I am proud of Maumee City Schools staff, students and the community for embracing the strategic planning process and look forward to our data review in early December. Is There School Today? While recently visiting in a classroom, a student asked me, “Are we going to have school tomorrow?” after which she informed me it would be cold and I should consider canceling classes. Since it appears winter has arrived, I want to take a minute to let you know the process the district uses to determine whether or not we will delay or cancel classes. The night before an expected storm, our director of transportation and I typically discuss a plan of action for the next morning. This includes what time we will start driving roads to monitor improving or worsening conditions. On a typical bad-weather morning, the process begins about 5:30 a.m. We drive primary roads first and then test secondary roads and side streets. While we strive to make a decision as early as possible, given that the district is only 9 square miles in size and the first bus typically leaves the bus compound at 6:35 a.m., we take the necessary time to ensure our road condition assessment is as accurate as possible before we make a final decision. If we decide to delay or cancel classes, we always post the information on Twitter and Facebook, and we send voice and text alerts to families and staff via our alert system. Simultaneously, we contact the news media with our decision. While we are often aware of other districts’ decisions, we always make our decision based on what we feel is best for Maumee schools. Open Invitation To Visit Our Schools: Become A “Panther For A Day” I want to extend an open invitation to visit our schools. I make this invitation to families considering Maumee as your future home and to those who have made another school choice for their children but wish to explore your public school option. I welcome you to come in and witness firsthand how we are providing a 21st-century learning experience for students and enhancing their lives with positive support systems, college and career experiences, clubs/activities, athletics and community service opportunities. We offer our “Panther for a Day” program that welcomes students of all ages to spend time with us and shadow a student and attend classes, meet other students, share a lunch and learn about all that we offer. I can assure parents that Maumee staff members are student-focused, caring, hardworking professionals dedicated to the success of all students. I make it a practice to visit every classroom in a school year and, having made more than 100 visits since August, I can assure you that incredible things are happening district-wide. For more information about Maumee’s “Panther for a Day” program, to schedule a student or parent visit, or to just ask questions, please reach out to me at (419) 893-3200 and I will connect you with the staff member who will assist with making arrangements for you and/or your child.
September 20, 2017
Maumee City Schools Making Continual Growth & Progress
BY DR. TODD CRAMER | Superintendent Maumee City Schools — Maumee City Schools continues to demonstrate tremendous growth and progress and we are very proud of our academic and extracurricular strides. As the state of Ohio continues to make accountability standards more and more rigorous for school districts across the state, Maumee continues to implement our strategic plan; putting students first, engaging in continuous improvement processes and emphasizing our focus on maximizing the potential of every student each and every day. Highlights of this work include: • 21 perfect scores on the most recent Ohio assessments. • MHS student accepted to West Point. • Average increase of over 6 percent in state assessment scores. • Increased collaboration and sharing of effective practices both within the district and with more than 100 guests last school year. • More than 200 students participated in our grant-funded interactive summer camp sessions. • Established partnerships with local businesses. • High school students earned more than 450 college semester hours through our College Credit Plus program. • Maumee Athletic Boosters have already hosted over 1,500 guests at various events. • Athletic teams are featured on BCSN this fall and into winter and spring. Communicating With the Community – Next Coffee Chat Is on Friday, September 29. I recently had the opportunity to talk with a group of Maumee High School students and facilitate a discussion that reminded me of the importance of continuing to find more and different ways to effectively communicate with our community, students and staff. If you are someone who prefers face-to-face communication, please know I am always open to meeting in our offices or at a location out in the community. I will continue to hold coffee chats throughout the school year and the next chat will be on Friday, September 29 from 7:00 to 8:30 a.m. at Biggby Coffee on Dussel Drive. Communicating With the Community – Digital Media Complements Direct Mailings. If you prefer digital communication, we just launched a school district app. It can be found in the Google Playstore or Apple App store by searching for “Maumee City Schools.” If you want your information from social media, we consistently update our website, Twitter and Facebook accounts and we will continue to direct-mail our district newsletters and Quality Profile to Maumee City Schools households. Communicating With the Community – Maumee’s New Quality Profile. Since it is one of our newer communication pieces, I hope you received and enjoyed our Quality Profile that arrived in the mail last week. The Quality Profile is designed to be a companion piece to Ohio’s local report card, highlighting accountability measures that define a high-quality education, but are not captured on the state report card. While having a state-issued report card has value, results from tests students take once in a school year hardly capture a full picture of the work a school district does, the programs it offers and the supports in place to help each student succeed, regardless of background, limitations, abilities and desires for their post-high school future. You can always find the Quality Profile on the school district website. Communicating With the Community – Ongoing Focus for the District. Our goal is to be able to provide the most effective methods of communication for every member of our community. This is why we have focused on this effort over the past 18 months and will continue to search for additional ways to effectively reach our stakeholders. We believe in the importance of open communication and value the input of those willing to take time to share their thoughts and ideas. This belief leads us on our current path to success and it is important that we are always listening to the input you offer. I would like to end this article by sharing that Maumee teachers and staff do amazing work. Our facilities are in exceptional shape thanks to the daily cleaning and maintenance by our hardworking staff, and students get safely to and from school thanks to our dedicated school bus drivers. Maumee students work hard and are achieving success both inside and outside the classroom and are supported by staff who go above and beyond to serve their students. And, the Maumee community has historically made, and continues to make, a financial investment in the school district’s future. We are so appreciative of your dedication to this community’s students. It is an exciting time to be a Panther!
Maumee Scores Well On State Report Card In Student Progress
BY NANCY GAGNET | MIRROR REPORTER — Maumee City Schools leaders are encouraged by the findings on the Ohio Department of Education district report card and are confident that the district is moving in the right direction, despite earning one low mark. The state released its annual report cards last week, which showed that the Maumee district is meeting or exceeding expectations in most key areas. For ensuring that students successfully graduate, Maumee earned an A, and for preparing students after graduation, it earned a C. For the achievement component of the report card, which represents the number of students who passed the state tests and how well they performed on them, the district earned a C. The district, however, received an F for not meeting indicators set by the state. To meet those indicators, 80 percent of students must score proficient or higher, which is a significant jump from previous years. Last year, for example, the state threshold to meet the indicator for third-grade reading was 68 percent. This year it is 80 percent. Maumee earned a 76.1 percent. “We’re not against raising the bar, but when the bar goes up at intervals such as that, it makes it difficult in one year for a district to seek that kind of improvement,” said Superintendent Dr. Todd Cramer. The district has focused on progress, which means stretching every student as much as possible. It earned an A for student overall growth and an A for growth among gifted students. The district earned a B for improvement made among students in the lower 20 percent, and a C was given for progress made among students with disabilities. “We believe if we continue that focus as it is reflected in our progress grades, the achievement will come, and that’s what we are seeing,” Cramer said. He acknowledged that there is concern among district leaders, including superintendents, in regard to the bar going up so much this year. He will join a statewide committee to advocate having a report card that is fair to districts throughout the state. He also said that with the amount of testing that has taken place over the past several years, it’s difficult to accurately compare data from year to year. Looking at the numbers this year, however, he and other district leaders and the teaching staff are pleased. “Overall, we are encouraged by the results from the report card, and we feel that if we continue with all of the same sequence and planning, we’re shifting in the right direction,” he said.