(1-14-19) Jon Gudorf,  a Celina Middle School teacher and active Celina Education Association (CEA) member made the following statement to the Celina board of education regarding possible cuts for the 2019-2020 school year.

Below is the statement –

Today, administrators in Celina sent teachers the following message:

*The State of Ohio sent the district and Board of Education notification that we will be in deficit spending based on our 5-year forecast. ODE has asked for a budget reduction plan to address this concern.

*The Celina BOE has been and will be discussing the budget reduction plan. It is anticipated that the plan will include upwards of 1.5 million dollars in reductions.

*Dr. Ken (Schmiesing) will soon be putting out the “Intent Forms” for the 2019-2020 school year. Obviously, we will want you to be as honest as possible on these forms as this will be beneficial for planning purposes. That said, these are always subject to change so we won’t know official numbers until the BOE acts on any retirements or resignations.

*As we begin the second semester of school, please be thinking about anything that could potentially be reduced and pass those ideas along to me.

Representing the CEA, I responded with the statement below. This statement was read in its entirety during the “Reception of the Public.”

Celina board members,
I would like to take this opportunity to speak regarding our district’s finances. My name is Jon Gudorf, and I am a seventh-grade math teacher and a CEA member. Since the beginning of this school year, CEA bargaining unit employees have had to endure several mistakes involving our district’s finances. These errors include: a delayed longevity step, a delay in supplemental back pay, a skipped CEA union dues date, several teachers not receiving insurance contribution on January 10th, several new teachers not receiving a $300 deposit for pre-contracted work days, and what I believe is the biggest error, an inaccurate 5-year-forecast. Although all of these errors have impacted teachers negatively, this most egregious error, the current five-year forecast, could have a tremendous effect on teachers, students, and community members for years to come.

On October 25, 2018, our treasurer submitted a 5-year forecast to the Ohio Department of Education. This forecast was not approved by the Celina Board of Education until November 19, 2018. I understand that ODE requires the 5-year-forecast to be submitted before the end of October, and due to an extended negotiations period, the “normal” process of having the Board approve the forecast before submitting to ODE was altered. However, this current 5-year forecast does not include an accurate representation of the recently approved CEA and Celina Board of Education contract. In fact, the forecast submitted to ODE by Tom Sommer on October 25, represents all teachers taking the OAPSE three-year financial package (2.25%, 2%, and 2%) and all teachers taking the district’s HSA plan and receiving a contribution. Celina teachers did not accept this plan. What Celina teachers actually agreed to was a smaller raise, (1%, 2%, 2.6%), a reinstated step, and a longevity stipend. We believe the current teacher contract actually costs the Board LESS than the OAPSE contract that is represented in the 5-year forecast. Also, due to the adoption of a High Deductible Health Care Plan with an HSA, it is likely that more teachers declined the Board’s insurance plan than in past years. If this were the case, the Board is saving extra money on insurance—a savings which is not included in the current 5-year forecast. In total, we believe the Board will spend less over the next five years than what is indicated in the 5-year forecast sent to ODE on October 25, 2018.

All of this is important to mention in light of recent whispers of possible cuts or a reduction in teaching positions before the 2019-2020 school year. How can cuts even be discussed at this time when it is a fact that the current 5-year forecast is inaccurate? Celina teachers and the community deserve an explanation as to why a flawed financial forecast is being used to possibly diminish a strong body of experienced and eager teachers. I ask that you provide an accurate estimate for the 2021 ending cash balance because the $491,231 deficit currently listed on the ODE website is simply wrong.

With our current contract, CEA acknowledges that The Board of Education took a very positive and significant step in repairing past damages done by former boards. CEA looks forward to continuing to build a stronger and more functional relationship with both this Board and the community, and we hope that this Board will continue to be known for its willingness to be open and hear from its teachers and community members. We simply ask that you, the Board of Education, provide our community and teachers with accurate information when presenting and dealing with the district’s finances. As you consider the possibility of cuts to staff and programming which will, in our opinion weaken the current educational strength of our district, please take into consideration that this most recent 5-year forecast is inaccurate, and thus should not be the basis of any long-term planning.

Thank you,
Jon Gudorf