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Dear friends and colleagues, 


> > Which is better: affordable education or affordable cigarettes? The Ohio General Assembly recently voted on this very question, and their answer is.... affordable cigarettes.
 > > OK, so that's a gross over-simplification of the problem, but the legislature has again refused to consider any tax increases to address the state's continuing budget shortfalls, and Gov. Bob Taft has threatened education - higher ed as well as K-12 - with an immediate funding reduction. 
> > You can act now and affect the future of affordable education in Ohio. Write to the Governor's office, to the Ohio Department of Education, and to your elected representatives in Columbus. Tell them that sacrificing education to preserve a no-tax ideology is irresponsible, ineffective and in the long term more expensive for Ohio. 
> > It is ironic that the Governor and the legislature are barking at each other about how much to cut education at the same time the Governor's Task Force on Education Excellence is recommending a budget INCREASE for among other things better pay for effective teachers. 
> > State Sen. Jim Jordan, who represents the 12th district that covers most of Edison's service area, praised the recent defeat of the Governor's "sin tax" on beer and cigarettes as being "a victory for Ohio's families." Write or email Sen. Jordan and tell him that if Ohio families are to be "victorious" they need affordable, effective education from pre-kindergarten through college, not cheap beer and cigarettes. A temporary increase in the state sales tax missed by ONE vote in the senate. 

Sen. Jim Jordan > Senate Building > Room #128, First Floor > Columbus, Ohio 43215 > 614/466-7584 > sd12@mailr.sen.state.oh.us
Keith Faber represents parts of Darke County, and is a member of the House Finance and Appropriations Primary and Secondary Education Subcommittee. Rep. Keith Faber > 77 South High Street > 13th Floor > Columbus,OH          43215-6111 > Telephone: (614) 466-6344 > Fax: (614)  644-9494 > Email Address: district77@ohr.state.oh.us 
Diane Fessler, who represents Piqua and Troy, is a member of the House Education Committee. It probably doesn't help that she is also a founding member of the Home Education Action Council of Ohio, a group that promotes home-schooling. Please write to Rep. Fessler and convince her that most of us still value public education. Rep. Diane Fessler > 77 South High Street > 13th Floor > Columbus,OH          43215-6111 > Telephone: (614) 466-8114 > Fax: (614)  644-9494 > Email Address: district79@ohr.state.oh.us 
Derrick Seaver represents Sidney and the northern part of our service area. Already in his second term, he is just 20 years old, and comments often that he is the only Ohio legislator that has taken the Ohio Proficiency Test. Rep. Derrick Seaver > 77 South High Street > 10th Floor > Columbus,OH          43215-6111 > Telephone: (614) 466-1507 > Fax: (614)  644-9494 > Email Address: district78@ohr.state.oh.us 

Reps. Seaver and Fessler are both on the House Education Committee and are in the position to effect real change. Rep. Faber sits on the Education Subcommittee of the Finance and Appropriations Committee. It's not difficult to see the key role these legislators will play in the upcoming battle for education funding. 
> > The Ohio Supreme Court had ruled prior to the budget battle that the method used to fund Ohio's schools is fundamentally flawed. With new pressures, rich districts will continue to thrive, while most districts will absorb with difficulty monetary restrictions beyond their control. A few districts will struggle to keep the heat on. The Piqua district is one of about 18 Ohio districts already in deficit spending. The Governor's proposed cuts THIS YEAR could drop another 20 districts into deficit budgets, and the worse news will come in the NEXT budget cycle.
> > > Senate Minority Leader Gregory DiDonato has today proposed merging smaller districts (serving fewer than 1000 students) to save money by eliminating "duplicate positions, such as curriculum coordinators, transportation coordinators and food coordinators." Well, guess what, Sen. DiDonato? Small districts don't have curriculum or transportation coordinators. In fact, small districts generally spend less money per pupil than large districts. 
> > The message to state officials is this: enough belt-tightening for Ohio's schools! The belt is beginning to choke off effective education. The state legislature and the governor's office must find a way to open the purse strings and fund primary, secondary and higher education in a sustainable, equitable and effective manner.

Governor Bob Taft > 30th Floor > 77 South High Street > Columbus, Ohio 43215-6117 > Phone 614-466-3555 or 614-644-HELP > Governor.Taft@das.state.oh.us
 

> > This letter was much longer than I had intended, but then it's a very complex issue. You may disagree with me on how to close the gap, but I think you can agree that the gap needs closing. Please, consider this critical issue carefully and make yourself heard.

 --Brad Reed 
                             --Vice President, Edison State Education Association
                             --President, Botkins Board of Education


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