The Big Walnut School district will have a levy on this November’s ballot for voters to approve or decline the building of two new schools. In the past, I have always said that I would support levies as it supports our district’s kids and in turn our future. I also should have a positive effect on my property value.
First a little background, my wife and I moved to the district 19 years ago with our four children. All four graduated from Big Walnut (2006, ’09, 12 & ’14) and all participated in various school activities including athletic teams. In the early 2000’s I was in charge of the local youth baseball program and then from 2005 -2012 was the booster president for the HS baseball program. During these years I worked with many other volunteers raising funds for the baseball teams which in turn benefited the student-athletes. The majority of what was purchased was done through fundraising by volunteers. This is true for basically all of the sports programs in the district as my wife and I also participated in other sports programs fundraising as well.
I also attended most of the High Schools overall booster meeting as the baseball representative. During those meetings we were provided with spending the Athletic Director had planned and basically of his budget. Nothing really was out of line with his budget or spending.
When our youngest son graduated in 2012 I concluded my time as baseball booster president, though continued to help in an advisory manner. When our daughter graduated in 2014 that ended our kids participation in high school sports. I then was a volunteer coach for the freshman baseball teams in 2015 & ’16 and assisted the new baseball boosters in an advisory capacity. It was in 2015 that several changes occurred. The district had a new Superintendent and High School athletic director and in 2016 a new High School principal.
What I witnessed in 2015 and ’16 in spending by the current Athletic Director has made me question my previous support for levies as a taxpayer. The Athletic Director should be supervised by the principal and in turn by the Superintendent and held accountable. In my opinion, I do not believe this to be the case, to the point, during the past two years I really question the past and future prudence of the current administration to be responsible with my tax dollars.
I know of four instances where this occurred, the most questionable was the purchase of a quarter of a million scoreboard for the football stadium. Funds were not raised ahead of time for the purchase and at the time of writing this, still not funded by booster fund raising. The AD has allegedly pledged to pay the district back over time with attempted fundraising, though that fundraising and sources were not in place at the time of purchase and were not at the end of the 2016 school year. In addition to all this at the June school board meeting the Athletic Director’s contract was granted a three year extension.
In summary, I will not be voting in favor of any levy going forward while the current administration is in place (Athletic Director, High School principal, District Superintendent and her administrative assistant). I do not have the confidence in the persons currently holding those positions to prudently utilize my hard earned tax dollars and will not until either the persons in those positions change or hopefully their actions change.