Northeast Suburban Life, a community newspaper of the Cincinnati Enquirer, ran a guest column titled, “Tea party activists want to control local school boards,” but after closer scrutiny a more apt title would be, “Organizing for America activist opposed to tea party membership on school boards.”

Richard Schwab, former administrator at Cincinnati Country Day School and founder of Glendale Organizing for America, writes that while tea party candidates were not successful in their bids for school board in several Ohio districts, “West Clermont Local School District wasn’t so lucky.”  Jim Lewis, Steve Waldman, and Mark Merchant, all running on a tea party ticket, won seats on West Clermont’s school board this past November.

Schwab cites Lewis as vowing to fight against any new school levies that are proposed by “ill-informed do-gooders.”

Lewis is on the right track.  As pointed out by one of the article’s commenters, Jim Rigano who serves on Springboro’s school board, wages and benefits make up 70-80 percent of a school district’s budget with compensation increasing annually well above the rate of inflation.  This growth rate is fueled by pre-determined raises built into district wage scales and Cadillac health plans with 80-90% of the premium paid for by the taxpayer.

Unless school board members and voters turn down new levies, the runaway train that is the growth in wages & benefits will not stop.  The good news is small decreases in the 70-80% of the district budget that accounts for compensation will yield large savings and quickly turn an unsustainable budget into a manageable one.  The problem is not school funding, but the allocation of hard-earned taxpayer dollars.

Schwab tells us that a parent group has formed to oppose the new school board leadership, West Clermont United, which wants to ensure that “kids come first.”

So it appears West Clermont Local School District is in for a healthy debate on school finances which can only lead to a stronger district for the students, especially if emotion is checked at the door and facts and reason rule the day.

OLC extends a hearty congratulations to Jim Lewis, Steve Waldman and Mark Merchant and wish you well as you embark on your service to the West Clermont Local School District.

Read Richard Schwab’s editorial here. (Page 8)