Tiger Tales

Click the down arrow for greater detail

Common Cents

Folks – a lie goes around the world before truth ever puts her shoes on.  

A perfect example is the recent mailing from Loveland Supports Loveland in which the belief that the state will take over and control the school if this levy fails is repeated despite numerous references to State fiscal distress law and the Auditor’s presentation to our School Board emphatically showing that this will not occur! By law the state CANNOT take over your school.

The mailer claims that you will pay only $14.33 per month which is based on the lowest housing value.  The actual figure for an average Loveland home of $300,000 is $43 per month but that does not include any increases that can occur with inside millage.   Remember that any monthly payment is in addition to what you are already paying.  School taxes do not exist in a vacuum.   In three years’ time the same homeowner will have paid $1,545 more just in time to probably face another levy ask (if not earlier).  How many of you never pay attention to your property taxes because they are escrowed into your mortgage payment?  Go look on your county auditor’s website and see what you are paying year-to-year.  You may be surprised.

The Loveland Supports Loveland mailer goes on to say that Voting Yes will provide a huge investment for the city of Loveland.  How? 

1) The levy will promote local property values.

It is time to dispel this myth.  Escalating property taxes diminish property values.  While it is true that families with school age children might look for a good school district to live in, the problem for Loveland is that the schools around us are equally good, if not better and have lower property taxes, including Sycamore. We are taxing ourselves out of our community.

2) The levy promises to train a future workforce.

Really?  No, Really?  What are they being trained to be – future Social and Emotional Learning Specialists?  This is what college and trade schools are supposed to do, not K-12.  If this levy is really to train a future workforce then the $4.9 million dollars should be specifically tied to performance measures showing how it is to be spent to do just that.

3) The levy promises to help us stay competitive with other Ohio schools. 

Folks – is this the purpose of K-12 education these days – keeping up with the Joneses?  This is perverse reasoning.  If Sycamore hires another administrator then Loveland has to hire one as well regardless of performance, enrollment and what is best for our community?  This is how we got into the spending problem we now have.  Base pay was jacked up in 2004-2007 to keep up with Sycamore’s pay.  Not only did we catch up with Sycamore but we surpassed them!  The objective shouldn’t be comparing ourselves with everyone else – this is an inappropriate standard.  The objective should be quality standards of education – graduating students who can read, write, do math and understand the history, government and law of this nation.  How specifically does this levy plan to do that?

4) The levy promises to “shore up Loveland’s future”. 

Does this nebulous promise mean passage of the levy will boot out those families and residents who can’t afford burdensome property taxes and make Loveland a wealthier and more gentrified district? How do you shore up a community by adding more taxes to already high taxes?  

5) Lastly this levy purports to help us “maintain local control”. 

This is a misnomer as we already have local control.  Our local School Board does everything the school wants and the local unions control decisions!  (Remember – it’s a lie that the State takes over). 

Vague promises are just a euphemism for jacking up salaries and benefits.  That is what this levy offers you.  Not just in Loveland, but across Ohio citizens are getting tired of having local government entities and organizations use property taxes as legal plunder for their own benefit.  Voting yes perpetuates this problem.  It is time to fix a broken funding system and force schools to control their spending habits, rather than offer you “feel good vagueness tied to unmeasurable promises.”

Have some common cents and vote NO!


Wow! Skeletons are popping up all over Loveland.  Has Halloween come early?  No treat here, just a trick to get you to believe the school will absolutely fail if you don’t vote for this levy.  With over 55 million dollars coming in every year, Loveland Schools are gasping their last breath if this levy fails.

Folks, this is the best example yet of desperate panic-driven messaging that avoids the truth of Loveland’s lack of financial transparency and inability to control spending.  Have you noticed that this ever-recycling mortal crisis that looms every time a levy is on the ballot never actually comes to pass?  It seems to be a very uncertain thing.  But then, we all know, the only things in life that are certain are death and taxes – and permanent property taxes will be the death of all of us yet!  No bones about it, that’s not humerus!

Assertion:  A pro-levy post asserts that Loveland will turn into a Little Miami

Why Loveland School District is not Like Little Miami

Little Miami School District hit the perfect storm with the student enrollment almost doubling at the same time losing $6,000,000 in revenue due to a change in the state formula.  Pay to play fees were raised to cover the expenses of after school activities at little Miami but we did not find a single major high school after school program that was cancelled. Use of the school building for non-school activities was cancelled but all school activities still had access to the building as needed.

The State of Ohio never ever “takes over a school”.  The Little Miami BOE was always in charge of the school academics and everything concerning the school.  Again, the state DID NOT TAKE OVER Little Miami School District, an advisory board was created that worked with the BOE to bring costs into line.

Loveland is already at a state guaranteed level.  Our enrollment is down from 4,832 students in the year 2008/2009 to a projection in the 5 year forecast of 3,300. For LCSD, the only reason for a forecast reflecting spending greater than income is that they have added millions in the last forecast into professional services and material and supplies and year over year large staff increases. We are in the 91st percentile in the state for teacher salaries after 2 years of “no raises”. That means step raises and education raises only. 

Doesn’t this make you question the school’s insistence that they need more? In 2020 they stated that they reduced staff by 47 positions. Based on the last headcount report we are down another 10 over 3 years to 493 but costs have climbed. Where is the money going if no raises were given?

Meanwhile in that same period from new construction and TIF income we have increased income slightly.

Assertion:  A pro-levy post asserts that the current Loveland School levy of 4.9 mills is 29% smaller than the March 2020 levy of 6.95 mills.


Taken at face value, the assertion implies that the financial impact on the taxpayer of the proposed 2022 levy would be 29% less than the proposed 2020 levy.


Not so.


While it is correct that the difference in millage rates is 29.5%, mills do not equal dollars, which is the important difference.


The 6.95 mill levy in March 2020 was certified to generate $6,164,257, while the 4.9 mill levy for November 2022 is certified to generate $4,788,078. The difference is $1,376,179. Accordingly, in monetary terms, the November 2022 levy is only 22.3% smaller than the March 2020 levy ($1,376,179/$6,164,257=22.3%).


Moreover, a mill at one point in time does not necessarily equal a mill at another point in time. In 2020 one mill translated to $886,943 in tax revenue ($6,164,257/6.95) whereas in 2022 a mill translates to  $977,158.776 in tax revenue ($4,788,078/4.9); so when considered on a per mill basis, the cost of the 2022 levy is actually 10.2% higher than that of the 2020 levy.

Assertion:  A pro-levy post has asserted that inflation has risen 27%, over the last 8 years during which time the District received 0% in inflationary raises. Seniors on Social Security received Cost of Living Adjustments of 15.6% over the past eight years.


No source is given for the 27% figure but inflation doesn’t rise, the rate of inflation fluctuates. According to the U.S. inflation calculator, cumulative inflation from 2014-2021 was 15.2%. Inflation has risen by an average rate of 1.9% per year over the past eight years.


The property tax structure is not intended or designed to provide inflationary increases to the District. On the contrary, property tax bills are calculated to keep tax revenues constantly equal to the value of each levy when it is approved, to protect taxpayers from “automatic” incremental increases to their tax burden that they have not specifically approved. It is totally understandable that the District is asking for a 13% increase in tax revenue due to inflationary costs; however, that does not justify why the District should be enabled to insulate itself, at the taxpayers’ expense, from the inflationary effects that everyone else has to deal with.


The usual response for a common household in inflationary times is to spend less. To expect the common household to spend less while also paying higher taxes so that the school does not need to spend less shows little respect for the community, especially when, although the District has received zero inflationary raises over the past eight years, our teachers continue to be near the 90th percentile for pay in our state.


Furthermore, while seniors on Social Security have received cost of living adjustments totaling 15.6% since 2014, Medicare premiums also have increased each year. Medicare premiums are adjusted periodically for inflation. Premiums are also means-tested, so they're somewhat dependent upon income. These rises in the cost of Medicare partially offset the COLA increases in Social Security. For example, in 2021 (paid in 2022) those who receive Social Security will see a 5.9% COLA increase, but the following increases will occur simultaneously in Medicare premiums:

·        Part A premiums (30-39 quarters): increased 5.8%

·        Part A premiums (<30 quarters): increased 5.9%

·        Medicare Part B premiums: increased 14.9%

·        Medicare Part B deductibles: increased 12.8%

Assertion:  A pro-levy post has asserted that replacing retiring staff by hiring staff at the 3-year experience level or less “has saved the district over $600,000 in payroll this year. Assuming a 10-20% teaching workforce within 5 years of retirement, this could save the district upwards of an additional $2-3 million over the next five years and continue lowering the district’s payroll expenses into the future.”


Does the assertion of $600,000 in payroll savings this year refer to teachers who have already retired and been replaced by lower-compensated teachers? Or if the retirements referred to are still prospective, what accounts for the $600,000 in savings this year? If this hiring process is expected to reduce payroll costs by $2-3 million over the next five years, and staff costs account for 86% of the budget, why is there a permanent levy being considered at this time?  If indeed, the expense curve is going down with the retiring of veteran staff why wouldn’t the district consider a temporary renewal levy to tide the district over as these savings are taking place?  Why is the district admitting to savings of millions of dollars on the one hand but on the other hand is asking for $5 million permanently with another potential ask in three years.  Something doesn’t add up.

Assertion:  A pro-levy post asserts that two factors that helped make it possible to reduce the size of the levy for 2022 were staff reductions of 47 (or 50), and the use of ESSER funds for operating expenses.


Whether the staff has been reduced by 47 or 50 positions (both numbers have been publicized), the claimed staff reduction is less than meets the eye. According to staffing data provided by the District, this reduction in force included 20 resignations and five retirements, employee-initiated actions for which the District should not take credit, and seven employees who were transfers (it is not clear how these transfers reduced the total number of staff). Only 18 employees were clearly identified as RIFs (reduction in force). Moreover, of the 50 positions ostensibly “cut” 26 were designated as “not to be refilled”, indicating that they had already been identified as unnecessary. (How long had they been unnecessary before the decision was made not to refill them?) Counting actions not initiated by the school, counting transfers, and eliminating positions already identified as unnecessary gives and inflated and misleading impression of the school’s efforts to reduce its staff meaningfully.  Furthermore, how many of these “cuts” have been added back into the 5-year forecast for high school bussing, full-time equivalents for classroom and support and administration staff? 


The District received over $5 million in ESSER funds.  These funds should have prolonged our need for a levy.  According to one Board member, the infusion of ESSER money should have made it unnecessary to propose a new levy until 2024.  Were ESSER funds spent wisely?  District records show that $1.239 million of the ESSER money remains unspent as of August 24, 2022.  Do we know what savings the school incurred from not having in-person learning for months?

Assertion:  The assertion has been made that Loveland is well below the local average in salary levels for Bachelor and Master’s degrees and above average in its top education salary level (Master’s Degree + 30 semester hours).


The assertion refers to the most recent Madeira Planning Commission Salary Study done every 5 years which compares Madeira to 29 other districts across three out of six education levels and four different years of experience. (A link to the study is included below). There are multiple problems with using the Madeira study as a comparative tool for Loveland.  The Madeira Planning Commission designed the study to focus on Madeira and to make sure Madeira remains in the top 3rd of 30 select districts.  Madeira’s median income in 2020 per the U.S. Census was $134,565 compared to Loveland’s $69,978.  Loveland’s poverty rate was also 8.3% compared to Madeira’s 1.9%.  Our districts are not similar except in our generous compensation models.


The Madeira study is not without its flaws.  Most schools start their pay schedule at Step 0 reflecting zero experience.  Loveland’s pay schedule used to begin with Year 0 but the most recently negotiated contract begins with Year/Step 1.  Starting at Step 1 when other school contracts begin counting at Step 0 throws off the salary count by one year unless you take that into consideration.  As a result it is highly probable that the rankings in the Madeira study would be off by 1 year for step years 5 and 10 for Loveland for each of the education levels considered.  If the correct values had been used, Loveland would have ranked higher than shown in the Madeira Study’s Appendix chart – hardly well below average.


While Loveland’s starting salary is competitive we definitely rank high for the top salary levels.  The comparisons in the Madeira study only showed three out of the six education levels and 12 out of 155 possible salary comparisons on the pay schedule.  The problem is that many schools such as Wyoming, Indian Hill, Madeira and Sycamore have higher education requirements than Loveland to reach the top salary level (doctorate, Master + 45 or Master +36). This makes it difficult to compare apples to apples.  Loveland’s highest education level is a Master’s + 30 semester hours and thus, when compared against schools with the equivalent top education level, Loveland actually ranks 3rd highest out of 30 local schools behind Mason and Lakota and not 7th as indicated in Madeira’s study. Finally, the Madeira study contains districts that Loveland has not previously compared itself to, including Lockland, Norwood, Finneytown, Reading, etc. 


The point that Loveland faculty is disproportionately represented in the maximum salary category has been discussed in a recent article entitled “A Deep Dive into Teacher Pay”.  We can appreciate the many teachers who have obtained Master’s degrees and additional training, and who have dedicated so many years of service to Loveland’s schools.  But again, the question at issue is not the merits or worth of the teachers individually; the question at issue is the sustainability of a pay schedule in a changing economic climate. While the pay schedule was revised to add more steps, it also added three additional raises with those steps.  The almost 30% increase in pay between a Bachelor and a Master’s + 30 hours still remains in effect.


The bottom line is that Loveland’s compensation model accelerates teachers’ movement into higher pay echelons.  Loveland’s Superintendent has even admitted verbally that our teachers were in the 90th percentile (state data currently shows 93rd) for pay and he would like to see that around the 75th.  Based on the problems with direct comparison of data and dissimilar step schedules and education levels in the Madeira Study, one cannot definitively conclude that Loveland is well below the local average for Bachelor and Master’s degree salary rankings.  The only thing that can be concluded, and agreed upon, is that Loveland ranks quite high for top salary levels.



All data and sources can be found here:

A Deep Dive Into The Teacher Pay Scale can be found under the News Articles Tab on this website


Madeira Planning Commission’s Salary Study:


Assertion: A recent pro-levy post has asserted that “Most every post on social media has something to do with how Loveland’s teachers are vastly overpaid”.


The phrase “vastly overpaid” misrepresents and distorts what has been said. What has been demonstrated is that Loveland’s teachers are very well paid in comparison with peer regional districts or statewide data. The question at issue is not what is the worth of the teachers, individually or collectively; the question at issue is whether Loveland’s compensation model is sustainable within the means of the community.

Assertion: A recent pro-levy post has asserted that “Since 2018 Loveland has been below average for COLA adjustments all but one year.”


Increases in base pay, which some people refer to as COLA (cost of living adjustment) raises or inflationary raises, are negotiated between the school district and the teachers’ representatives. They are not automatic and sometimes do not correlate closely to COLA increases calculated by the government, for example, for Social Security. Increases in base pay are negotiated prospectively for two or more years, whereas a COLA increase generally reflects actual inflation data for the immediately preceding year. It is important to understand this lag time between when inflation occurs and when it is reflected in a base pay adjustment. For example, Loveland’s current contract specifies that there is no base pay increase in years 2022 and 2023. This contract was negotiated before the current exceptional inflationary curve began, so inevitably there is a great disparity between the base pay increase and actual inflation in these years.


To find a meaningful correspondence between increases in base pay and Social Security COLA raises, therefore, the years 2022 and 2023 should be disregarded, because there has been no opportunity yet for the current inflationary cycle to be reflected in the teachers’ base pay. Keeping within the timeframe of the assertion, the data for 2018 through 2021 are as follows:


Year: 2018 2019 2020 2021

Loveland Base pay increase: 2.5% 2.0% 2.0% 2.0%

SS COLA increase: 2.0% 2.8% 1.6% 1.3%


These data show that the base pay increase in three of these four years exceeded the Social Security COLA increase. The average Social Security COLA increase for these years is 1.95%; the base pay increase in all four years exceeds this average.


Moreover, when one looks at a longer period, 1996-2021, the correspondence between base pay COLA increases and Social Security COLA increases indicated above for 2018-2021 are confirmed. Specifically, over these 25 years, we observe the following:

These data demonstrate that for over 25 years the teachers have received increases to their base pay that exceed Social Security COLA increases by an average of one-half percentage point each year (which adds up), refuting the idea that Loveland has been below average for COLA increases all but one year.


Another way to look at the data would be to take the base salary for each of those same 25 years (1996-2021) and compare it to the same base salary corrected for actual inflation (not Social Security COLA increases).  The data show that every year the increase in the base pay was an overpayment compared to what a real inflationary cost should have been except for 1997.  (see data links below and also contained on this website page)


While older teachers may be retiring there are still plenty of teachers coming up through the ranks.  Furthermore it has been mentioned by a pro-levy supporter that the district has saved the Community an estimated $1,440,000 by giving a 0% increase in the base pay for the past two years. This emphatically makes the point about the expense of yearly COLA increases.   (Please note, again, teachers all got raises in 2021-2022 and most teachers received raises this year). 


In theory we all would like to be protected from inflationary increases but it doesn’t work that way.  Inflation hurts everyone.  The compensation model for teachers treats them as a group that should be protected from inflation at the expense of others.  It should be kept in mind that an increase to base pay or COLA increase is only one element by which teachers’ salaries are increased. Two other elements are nearly annual “step” increases for years of teaching experience and “education” increases for graduate level training and degrees.  Is this compensation model realistic moving forward?


All data and sources can be found here:

COLA and Inflation Data Charts Relating to Teacher Base Pay

COLA increase charts and article.pdf