Letters to the Loveland Community and to the Board of Education


As a parent I feel that no matter what happens with this levy next week, our community as a whole has already lost.  Just reading the comments on various social media sites and seeing the way people talk to each other has convinced me that whether this levy passes or fails, everybody loses.  The lack of civility, the personal attacks and the labeling of viewpoints contrary to one’s own as lies and misinformation are truly sad.  In the bargain our children have lost as well.  We have not modeled how to handle disagreement, how to think critically, how to discern what is true or false, how to be self-disciplined or how to be respectful.  We have even scared our children into thinking a portion of their community is against them.  We have done our children a huge disservice in how we have handled this whole levy thing -- it is beyond sad.

I have tried to listen to both sides on this issue, and each has points.  It is true that education is funded publicly and needs money.  Because it is public money it should be accounted for carefully.  It is true things cost more than they used to but I also don’t think the school is always totally honest with parents about their spending.  Sending an uncaring message to those in our community who can’t afford these permanent levies is exactly that – uncaring.  I can’t reconcile that on the one hand the school proudly promotes fundraising and charitable activities our kids can participate in to help others, while on the other hand our District seemingly dismisses families and seniors who have already sacrificed a lot for the school but for whom higher taxes are a real burden.   Shrugging one’s shoulders and saying “there’s nothing more we can do, vote no if you can’t afford it” doesn’t speak of a generous or deeply caring school community.

We have smart people in Loveland who have suggested changing the way we do things and we have smart people on our Board who seem unwilling to do anything different.  I really can’t understand this impasse. 

I know for us parents it is personal; we want the best for our kids. We also don’t want to see our pet programs cut.  But frankly, it is personal for everyone I’ve talked to.  The desires of different groups of people in this community seem irreconcilable.   Shouldn’t we be able to reach a compromise where most people can be happy supporting the school and the school can still give our kids a great education that doesn’t bankrupt our grandparents or prevent young middle or lower income families from moving here because of higher taxes?  Unless we start thinking and caring about everyone instead of just our kids, everybody loses, including our children.

Lj Cecil

Dear Loveland Business Owners, and Neighbors, 


The Loveland City School District (LCSD), has once again placed an operating levy on the ballot, at a Special Election on Tuesday May 2, 2023.  Early voting starts April 4.


This Operating Levy is no different from the request the school made to the public in November of 2022, as it is a levy of Continuing time, which never expires, and will join the other 18 fixed Operating Levies which property owners in the Loveland City School District currently pay.  It joins a Continuing Permanent Improvement levy, which supplies the school with $3.8 Million dollars, per year, for repairs and equipment which are designed to last five years or more. The millage on this May 2023 Operating Levy of a Continuing time is, again, 4.9 Mills, which will bring about $5 million dollars extra per year, forever, into the school's operating fund. 


We at VOICE, Voter Oversight Involvement and Concern for Education, are once again opposed to this Continuing/Permanent levy.


Once again, a 4.9 Mill additional levy will be a stretch for many of Loveland's residents, especially those who are senior citizens on a fixed incomes, and those who are financially insecure, which is estimated to be about 10% of our population. A fairly average home in Loveland is now being sold for around $350,000, which adds a considerable expense to what is already a high property tax bill.  A bit over $600 additional per year, for that average home.


We have heard that Loveland is considered a wealthy community, and that this new tax is easily affordable, but is it really?  Despite the failure of three levies since 2019, the LCSD treasurer presented statistics that home values have risen dramatically, in our beautiful small town. It's the truth.  But the residents who have made Loveland what it is today, who have been here and will be here...their "wealth" is tied up in the homes that they care for and live in. Although the schools freely admit this, and encourage those who "can't afford it" to Vote No, the fact is that everyone will have to pay this additional tax if the levy passes.  Voting No does not exempt anyone from the extra tax that will be owed. 


We are told that the school is in "deficit spending", and that this situation is the first step toward "state control".  Well, how did that happen in the four short months since the November levy was promoted to the public?  The actual definition of "deficit spending" is "spending money which you have to borrow".  The school is NOT borrowing any money.  They are overspending from the budget that they were given.  The ODE and State Auditor use "cash balance deficit" to determine Fiscal Distress.  At the end of this fiscal year, June 2023, the projection is for $13,033,000 cash on hand.


Even with current uncontrolled spending, it is not until 2026 that LCSD would have a cash balance deficit of the Operating Account.   Additionally, the Auditor was quite clear that "the State never takes over control" of a district. Our elected BOE has ultimate control and the responsibility to work toward fiscal integrity.  Always.


If you have further questions about the stages of what is termed fiscal distress, Google YouTube, Financial Oversight Presentation, Dave Thompson.  This should take you to a video presentation by the Auditor's representative, which is about an hour in duration. In this presentation he provides slide #22 which states:  --Supervision under Emergency is Not state takeover.  --Ohio is a State of local control.  --The BOE is responsible for identifying how to acquire additional revenue and expense reductions to reach fiscal solvency.  --The local BOE will determine all staff and program changes. 

These points are true always. 

The State guides, provides assistance, and may even lend money, although it seldom comes to that in any district in Ohio. They do NOT take control.


We constantly hear that this levy is "For the Kids", and "what about the kids"? 


What about the teachers and administrators. who continue to be exceptionally well compensated?  Who stands to gain the most if this levy passes?  Follow the money, they always say.  Our administrators, and there are many, have average pay of around $100,000 per year, with benefits adding about 50% to their salary. 

Loveland teachers continue to be well paid and are now in the 90th percentile in the state; and so are paid higher than all but 10% of teachers across Ohio.  Added to that is the additional compensation of fringe benefits, which amounts to about 25% of their pay.


The same teachers who very generously agreed to a Base Pay freeze (but still received additional salary hikes in their step contract), are having the Teachers Union renegotiate their contract in the spring.

Having the teachers agree to a two year base pay freeze in 2021 resulted in savings of over $2 million dollars, yet they are still in the 90th percentile, with highest pay topping out at over $100,000. 

The unions will work on their behalf, but who works for the community?


Expenditures for Operating Fund in Fiscal Year 2022 are finalized at, $51,087,000, and are "projected" to reach expenditures of $62,660,000 by the end of FY2027.  While at the same time, enrollment at LCSD has dropped, and will continue this trend, from an enrollment in 2017 of 4,436 to an enrollment projection of 3,633 in FY2027.  Much more expenditures, to serve fewer students. 


Finally, we are constantly reminded about the obligation of the people of Loveland to support our schools and nurture our children.  When have we not?  We currently support 18 continuous/permanent property tax levies just for the Operating budget alone.  We also pay property taxes on a school Permanent Improvement fund, a building bond, and Great Oaks.  In addition, every good cause that can be conceptualized is funded by our county taxes. 

Loveland ranks in the TOP 10% of all Ohio districts for the highest millage rate.  Homeowners (not business) carry 91% of the tax burden of supporting our schools, via property taxes.  Almost 60% of your property tax directly supports the schools.


The Citizens for Loveland City Schools PAC has a powerful message, For The Kids.  There are many who will Vote in favor of this levy, based on that alone.  However any one voter excises this most precious of rights, they should also have the ability to make as well informed a decision as possible.  Without scare tactics and threats, without emotional tag lines, and with all possible sources of information being made available. 


As a small group of concerned citizens, we are making every dollar we receive go triple the distance.  If you agree with our concerns, we could use your help to fund the remainder of this campaign, as we would like to accomplish a targeted direct mailing. 


We have donate buttons on our website for credit cards, Paypal and Zelle at www.lovelandvoice.org.   The address of our PAC treasurer is there as well, if a donation by mail is preferable.


If you should have any questions, our email is LOVELANDVOICE@gmail.com; we look forward to hearing from you. 


Thank you so much for taking the time to consider our request.

An Open Letter to the Loveland Board of Education from Loveland VOICE:

VOICE is a grassroots organization representing ALL of Loveland.  As our name implies, we are not your enemy, we are citizens concerned for the welfare of all.  VOICE did not fail the recent Permanent Tax Levy: the citizens of Loveland failed the Levy 52%-48% for many reasons, some of which were compiled and listed in an article titled Why People Vote No.  VOICE’s purpose is to ask questions and inform citizens on the broader facts of an issue or narrative and to hold the district accountable to justifying expenditures of public money.  VOICE originated after the 2019 levy when it was apparent that the district was not being truthful about its needs or communicating well with the community.  We understand that the district had operated without public scrutiny for many years and that it can be uncomfortable to have the curtain pulled back and receive criticism.  Some in our community have even been offended by our efforts.  Public education, however, is a service to the community, paid for by taxpayers.  Therefore the school is a servant, not the master, and should be able to operate with humility and correction when necessary.


The School Board has not represented the community.  Rather, it has acted merely as an advocate for the school.  The Board should intelligently consider the entire Loveland community represented in three different counties and several socio-economic neighborhoods.  The Board’s decisions impact the whole community and should not be overwhelmingly influenced by “in-house” thinking.  The VOICE and numerous individual citizens suggest that, moving forward, the Board seriously consider alternatives to constantly choosing PERMANENT property taxes.  The burden on senior citizens, long-term residents and low-income families is destructive and pushes people deeper into poverty or out of the community.  Moreover, the rising property tax burden does not maintain property values more than it simply discourages all but higher income earners from purchasing homes in our community.  Pushing an older generation or middle class taxpayers out to make room for young families who will bring more money is not a healthy or unifying way to build a community. The current path is unsustainable, as has been repeated by businessmen and other ordinary citizens since 2020.  We do not want to constantly reside in a victim status created by H.B.920, and we need to take the time to consider the alternatives and change the status quo.

The VOICE has been mocked for its themes of trust and transparency, and yet getting simple answers for simple questions, like what is the true number of teachers and why a lower number was used for a live levy session, has been virtually impossible.  To understand real budget numbers, numerous questions must be asked, resulting in accusations that individuals are using up district time and resources.  When the contingency fee was explained at a board meeting, it created confusion about where the money came from and how the bucket was to be refilled.  The district clearly avoided directly addressing the issue several times when clarification was sought.  Citizens must be able to understand how and why their money is being spent in a clear, not obfuscated or cherry-picked, fashion.  Please don’t announce that you will have to cut 50 teachers if the levy fails and then, after the levy fails, announce that no decisions have been made about future funding requests or budget cuts.  We have good, honest people in our community.  Please don’t sell us a levy with fear.  Please give us the whole truth so we can be informed and make up our own minds.  It is our money, and they are our kids, not yours.  Please don’t resist transparency — proactive transparency builds trust.  You do not build trust by talking at people.  Has the greater community ever been invited to engage in a discussion where the conversation was not directed by the school?

Please consider curbing expenditures in a time of economic hardship.  There are many ways we can think of to trim the budget before cuts are even considered.  Before approving the next budget forecast in November please remove from the budget the amounts that were added in anticipation of passing a levy.  Strip the budget of money for potential new teachers or possible bus drivers, and put the contingency fee money back into the baseline cash balance.  Please justify your expenditures instead of vaguely claiming that you need money to “maintain educational programming”.  This purposely leaves it to the public to fill in the blank.  If you are putting a levy on the ballot, every dollar you are asking for should be accounted for publicly. Please don’t hold on to our money for us, promising not to spend it until you need to, when we might need that money right now for our families and our own basic living expenses.

We kept hearing the message that things were changing, but it seems that things continue to be done as they were in the past.  This community infighting was created by you, the Board. It pits neighbor against neighbor, friend against friend. It is unnecessary! We all want what is best for the community and what is best for the schools.  It took years to get us to this point of “bridge failure”, and it will take time to repair the damage.  You alone have been entrusted with the power and responsibility to solve this problem.  Make the decisions necessary to fix the budget and reduce the excessive spending that is so obvious to many of us.  Pushing this off until another permanent levy finally passes will not fix anything.  The fighting will still be there, and the community will pay the price.  Take responsibility.  The fix is NOT cutting services, it is proper budgeting and spending.  It is time to change how we do things because we cannot afford to keep repeating past mistakes.  Whether levies pass or fail, we must all return to living together in the same community. We would like to believe our Board has the will and courage to do hard things, to actively listen to dissenters, and to bring unity out of the division we have experienced in Loveland.


Loveland VOICE (Voter Oversight, Interest and Concern for Education)


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