Rumor Has It…
Heard a Rumor? Want Information? Ask Us!
We all know how quickly rumors can spread and grow – have you heard something about the Cardinal Local School District that you’d like more information about? Ask us, we’re happy to provide a response to clear up any misconceptions that may be out there. Keeping an open, honest dialog between the schools and the community is our top priority and a necessity to ensure the continued success of the Cardinal Local School District. Questions received will be posted here (we reserve the right to edit questions for clarity, grammar, and language) along with the District response. Names of those submitting questions will not be collected/shared. Please note, we are not permitted to share any information regarding specific students or staff members. We look forward to hearing from you and growing our Huskie Pride!
- QUESTION: It has been heard that the Mayor of Middlefield has said that the Cardinal School District will 100% be merging with Berkshire/Ledgemont schools in 3 years. Is this true? (Submitted 11/1/18)
ANSWER: The push from local leaders to once again join the conversation on consolidation caught many of us by surprise. Not only did the board vote to opt-out of the discussion in 2015, but our voters overwhelmingly supported two levies for the district in 2017. BOE members attended a recent economic development committee meeting and recently submitted this statement to the media and a letter to the village and the mayor in response. The Board says, “the Cardinal Board is not opposed to acknowledging that the future is unknown and that holding a “never consolidation” viewpoint isn’t realistic, however, we have done our investigation into consolidation and our view remains unchanged, consolidation is not right for our district at this time.” Our board fully supports the district and hopes future conversations with the Village will involve ways we can all work together to enhance the foundation that’s already in place here. Strong schools yield strong communities, by working together, we all succeed. You can view the Board’s full statement to the media here.
- QUESTION: Why does Cardinal allow bullying to go on and do nothing about it? (Submitted 9/29/18)
ANSWER: Cardinal maintains a zero tolerance policy on bullying. Bullying is behavior that happens repeatedly over an extended period of time. Rest assured, when notified of incidents, whether it’s bullying, harassment, or intimidation, administrators do their best to address them quickly and appropriately. In the past staff have talked to students and parents about concerns and issues, addressed classes as a whole, and called in law enforcement if necessary.
District staff can not address bullying concerns if they are not informed of them. There are several, anonymous ways to report bullying within the district including talking to any adult that you trust, sending an email to a staff member about your concerns, calling the school principal, or utilizing the Let’s Talk communication feature on our website to send in concerns. You can also call the Safer Schools Ohio hotline at 844-SAFEROH (844-723-3764), the Middlefield Police Department at 440-632-5224, or the Geauga County Sheriff’s Department at 440-286-1234. We strongly encourage everyone – students, staff, and community members – to say something if they see something.
In addition, the District was recently recognized by the state as just one of three in Geauga and Lake Counties to win an award for its district-wide implementation of Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS). This positive behavior rubric we have rolled out across the district is aimed at promoting positive behaviors and reducing bullying, harassment, and intimidation behavior events. The district has seen a 50-60% decrease in behavior referrals across all buildings since its implementation in 2014.
- QUESTION: “Why do we start the school year earlier and earlier and increase early release Wednesdays – it’s inconvenient.” (Submitted 8/12/18)
ANSWER: Many factors go into planning the district calendar for any school year. Students are required to have a certain number of instructional hours a year, teachers are required to have 184 work days every year, we account for holidays/breaks, fair days, early release days, and align our days so the first semester ends at the end of the year in order to get the proper instruction in for our block scheduling at CHS. In addition to all of those things, we must abide by the teacher contract, which states the teacher work year will end no later than May 31. Here are the district start days from the past eight school years, including this one:
2018-19: August 14 2014-15: August 18
2017-18: August 15 2013-14: August 21
2016-17: August 17 2012-13: August 22
2015-16: August 25 2011-12: August 23
We do our best to communicate all early release dates well in advance of the start of the school year so families can arrange for care for their child(ren) on these days. We have also considered changing early release days to another day of the week (i.e. Monday or Friday), but due to certain educational requirements, in addition to the teacher contract, we have not been able to do so. We appreciate your continued patience and understanding in this matter.
- QUESTION: CHS has received metal detectors. What will these be used for and why do they have them? (Submitted 9/21/18)
ANSWER: At the direction of the Board of Education, the district purchased three (3) portable metal detector units and hand-held wands – one will be placed in each school building (JES, CMS, and CHS.) The district has collaborated with the Middlefield Police Department on how to best utilize the devices. Together we have developed a plan for implementation and use. It is our hope that the devices will serve as a deterrent to anyone who may consider bringing a weapon onto school property. We will NOT disclose complete details on a schedule of usage of the detectors. What we can share is that the Middlefield Police Department will provide officers to conduct the use of the detectors and that we will be checking visitors and students in each building throughout the course of the year. The purchase is part of the District’s ongoing efforts to enhance the safety and security of students and staff.
- QUESTION: Why is there no discussion of installing air conditioning at Jordak or CHS? We passed two levies and now have a bond in place – wouldn’t those cover the cost of adding cooling systems to the schools? (Submitted: 9/3/18)
ANSWER: The levy dollars are used strictly for the day-to-day costs of operating the district at its current levels. While bond money can be used for construction/renovation of buildings, major repairs and land purchases, there are no dollars currently earmarked in this bond for the installation of a cooling system in JES or CHS. Discussions about this issue are ongoing and a plan is being developed to determine how or if we can address this issue moving forward.
- QUESTION: Most of the buses seen in the lot already have the 2018/2019 Ohio State Highway Patrol school bus inspection sticker. However, there are a few buses that either don’t have a sticker or have the old sticker. Will those buses be retired, or will the Ohio State Highway Patrol give another visit to the lot to inspect those buses? (Submitted: 7/18/18)
ANSWER: The State Highway Patrol has completed one round of inspections to our fleet, hence the updated stickers, and will be back to inspect the remaining buses prior to the start of the 2018-19 school year. The District was scheduled for two inspection days this year to give OSHP inspectors enough time to properly review our fleet. The inspections are quite lengthy and it is not possible to get through all of our buses in one inspection day.
- QUESTION: “I’ve seen a Student First bus parked among others at Jordak. Will this company be partnered with Cardinal? If so, will they be taking over our existing positions or helping out? (submitted: 7/16/18)
ANSWER: Cardinal Local Schools has partnered with the Geauga YMCA for summer camp programming. The First Student bus that has been seen in front of Jordak is there to transport those students for their planned field trips.
- QUESTION: Will Middlefield Police officers continue to be present within the district daily for the remainder of the year?
ANSWER: Since the tragic events in Parkland, Florida on February 14, District Administrators have been speaking and working closely with the Middlefield Police Department to review and enhance safety practices. As their time allows, officers do plan to have an increased presence on our campuses for the remainder of the school year. We are currently in discussions on how to have a daily presence on site that is cost effective for the schools and the police. We will continue to work closely with them to ensure everyone’s continued safety moving forward. You can review our safety policies here.
- QUESTION: Why is the district spending $20,000 in taxpayer money to do a strategic plan?
ANSWER: Last year the Superintendent commissioned a Task Force on School Operations as a stepping stone to develop a District Strategic Plan in this school year. The 11/5/17 Geauga County Maple Leaf headline read “Cardinal Board Considers $20,000 Strategic Plan.” This gives the impression that the district is using taxpayer revenue to pay for the facilitator. While the cost to facilitate the plan is $20,000, Dr. Hunt has negotiated a split payment – half being due in 2017 and the other half July 1, 2018. This year, the district will use Title IV grant dollars and a donation to cover the cost. Once the budget process begins in the spring of ’18, money will be allocated to pay for the July 2018 balance of the plan.
- RUMOR: The CHS roofing project is costing the district $1.2 million.
FACT: The bid for this work to be completed is $121,500.00. Two years ago the district borrowed $300,000.00 from Middlefield Bank to begin work on a section of the CHS roof that was in disrepair. Approximately $175,000.00 was expended in the initial repair. The remainder of the loan dollars are being used to complete work on the CHS roof near the cafeteria. Together, those totals amount to $296,500.00.
- QUESTION: “Why start school in the summer heat?”
ANSWER: When developing the school calendar we have to account for a variety of items – for instance, we must have 178 student days, 184 teacher days, plus holidays, winter break, spring break, and balancing the number of days we need to be in session each semester. Many other area districts start around the same time as Cardinal. In addition, when reviewing average temperatures in the month of August and September, they’re only about a five degree difference. If we developed a calendar that takes temperature into account, it is essentially just as hot the first couple of weeks of September as it is in August.
- RUMOR: “Money from the newly passed levy will be used to hire more administrators within the already-bloated District.” (submitted 5/11/17)
FACT: The District has actually reduced out the number of administrators in efforts to cut costs. With the exception of Kindergarten, the number of teachers per grade has also been reduced as a cost saving measure.
- RUMOR: “Money from the newly passed levy will be used to remodel administrators’ offices.” (submitted 5/11/17)
FACT: There are no remodeling projects happening in any part of the district. Money collected from the recently passed levy will be placed in the general fund budget to maintain district operations as they currently stand. There is no extra money. The District will not begin collecting that money until February 2018.
- RUMOR: “Now that the levy has passed, Cardinal Schools will give all of the money to the Huskie Nation Foundation to build a new athletic complex at the high school.” (Submitted 5/3/17)
FACT: The Huskie Nation Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, volunteer organization, which means legally, the District can NOT give them any money. All money generated from the levy will go directly to the district’s general fund budget to support daily operations at their current levels.
- RUMOR: “Starting with the 2017-18 school year each elementary grade (K-4) will only have two classes per grade.” (Submitted 5/2/17)
FACT: With the exception of Kindergarten, each grade level (K-4) will have three classes per grade. Kindergarten will still have four classes.
- RUMOR:“If online schools are tuition free (according to TV ads) why does it cost so much for public schools?” (Submitted 4/24/17)
FACT: The ads are slightly misleading. The cost for a child to attend their online school is tuition free for the student, but not for the public school or even the community the child lives in. READ MORE
- RUMOR: “Students are leaving the District in droves for voucher schools and other local districts.”
FACT: Here are the figures collected from our data of students who are enrolled out to other schools:
Private/Non-public or Home School students
FY 15: 78 | FY 16: 51 | FY 17: 25
Students open enrolled out
FY 15: 81 | FY 16: 92 | FY 17: 82
Students attending Online or Community School
FY 15: n/a | FY 16: 79 | FY 17: 57
* Cardinal had 103 students open enrolled in to us for the 2016-17 school year.
- RUMOR: “CIS is closing this year.” (Submitted: 4/7/17)
FACT: On March 22, 2017, the Cardinal Board of Education voted unanimously to move grades 3 and 4 from Cardinal Intermediate School to Jordak Elementary School for the 2017-18 school year. Grades K-2 will also remain at JES. The board also agreed to give permission to seek out tenants for the CIS building.
- QUESTION: “Where does the Cardinal Superintendent salary rank among other county school districts?” (Submitted: 4/3/17)
ANSWER: Here is the breakdown of Geauga County Superintendent salaries:
West Geauga: $135,000
All state employee salaries can be found online at the Treasurer of Ohio’s website.
- RUMOR: “Booster groups and other groups are trying to raise $100,000 to cover the cost of ALL sports next school year.” (Submitted: 3/25/17)
FACT: There are groups working to address fundraising for pay-to-participate fees for next year. However, $100,000 is the cost for FALL SPORTS ONLY.
- RUMOR: “Cardinal BOE members voted March 22 to approve $611,000 in cuts for the coming school year – this will fix Cardinal’s financial problems.” (Submitted 3/25/17)
FACT: These cuts only help keep the district in the “black” financially and do not take the place of money that would be generated from the passage of a levy. If the May 2 levy were to pass, the District would not collect on that money until 2018.
- RUMOR: “Cardinal will close in three years if the levy does not pass.” (Submitted 3/23/17)
FACT: It is not likely that Cardinal will close in three years but without local tax support (i.e. new levy monies) the district could be placed into Fiscal Caution, Fiscal Watch, or Fiscal Emergency by the Auditor of State’s Office. Those situations would force the district to make significant cuts in order to operate which would drastically reduce programs (i.e. art, music, tech, etc.) and compromise the quality of education the district currently offers.
- RUMOR: “It will cost taxpayers more to support the May 2 levy than to merge with another district.” (Submitted 3/23/17)
FACT: The passage of House Bill 148 in December 2016 states the Ohio Schools Facilities Commission will provide 55% of the cost of building a new school and taxpayers would pay 45%, but only if a building levy (Bond Issue) is approved by voters in the consolidated district. A 1% Income Tax would be added. (Middlefield Village already pays a 1% Income Tax, this would increase it to 2%; all other areas would see the 1% Income Tax.) For example, a household income of $60,000 annually would equate to $600 in taxes. Also in addition to the building levy and 1% income tax increases, there would be a separate Operating Levy needed to run the consolidated district. Again, this levy would also have to be passed by a vote of the taxpayers. While the total cost of consolidation is difficult to project, the income tax alone is more than 3x the cost of the May 2 5.5 mill levy. | ADDITIONAL INFORMATION | Levy Cost Calculator
- RUMOR: “Tax dollars raised in Cardinal don’t go directly to Cardinal. They go to Columbus first, then get distributed as Columbus sees fit.” (Submitted 3/21/17)
FACT: Ohio public schools receive federal, state, and local funding. Federal funds are provided through incentive based programs managed at the federal level in Washington, D.C. and can vary depending upon a district’s needs. State funding comes from the Ohio Department of Education (in Columbus) through per-pupil foundation payments, which again, are dependent on district size and need.
Columbus (specifically the Governor’s budget) has cut education funding which is impacting our District negatively. Local tax dollars though come directly from taxes paid by property owners in the district. In fact, 43% of our District’s budget comes from local taxes. While the check for our local tax money may come from the County Auditor’s office, the money itself is all generated here within our District lines and is being collected appropriately.
Another challenge is the state’s decision to phase out the Tangible Personal Property Tax (TPPT) to the District. Years ago, Cardinal received 4 million from TPPT, which helped sustain the district without passing new levies. This tax, paid by businesses located in our district, is now being collected by the state and a reimbursement amount is paid to the district. That reimbursement is being reduced every year and will eventually be phased out completely. This year the district received 1.6 million. Next year it will receive 1.2 million and all payments will be completely phased out in fiscal year 2021. How does the district make up for the loss of revenue? The answer from the state government is to pass a levy to support your local schools.
- RUMOR: “The district doesn’t really need the money. They fell on hard times in the past and have always found a way to make it. What is the difference now?” (Submitted 3/20/17)
FACT: The difference now is that the District will not have enough money to operate without the passage of the May 2 levy. The district is making cuts, but that will not make up for the millions of dollars lost from the state (see the reference above to the TPPT phase out) and the fact that the district has not passed a new levy since 1992.
- RUMOR: “Teachers cost the district money because we pay too much.”
FACT: Cardinal teachers have actually saved the district approximately 2.4 million dollars since 2010, when the base salary rate was frozen.
- RUMOR: “Teachers get base salary raises every year.”
FACT: The base teacher salary has not changed in 7 years – it remains at $33,291.00. The base salary is the second lowest in Geauga County. The teacher salary kept pace with the inflationary rate until 2011. If we kept pace with inflation, we would currently have a base teacher salary of $37,904.00.
TEACHER BASE RATES BY DISTRICT (2016):
Newbury: $32,624 Chardon: $37,175
Cardinal: $33,291 West Geauga: $39,239
Berkshire: $34,895 Kenston: $39,607
- RUMOR: “Teachers don’t work but still get paid all summer.”
FACT: Cardinal teachers work 184 days total based on their contract. ALL employees in the district have a set salary and receive 26 pays per year no matter how long their contract is. This means ALL employees are paid throughout the summer. For most employees, the pay over the summer is for time they already worked during the school year.
- RUMOR: “What value is my home being assessed on for levy taxes?
FACT: Your levy tax payment is based on the tax assessment of your home, not the market value of your home. Your tax value is 35% of your home value (the price in which you would sell it for in the market), for example, if you have a $100,000 home, you’re taxed on $35,000. Calculate your cost with our Tax Levy Calculator.
- RUMOR: “The Superintendent got a huge bonus, but the school district is broke.”
FACT: Superintendent Dr. Scott Hunt has not received any bonus from any entity. When he negotiated a new contract with the Board of Education in 2016, he did not ask for a pay raise; he continues to make the same amount as he did when he first joined the district in 2014, which is $105,000 annually. (All state employee salaries, which includes staff here at Cardinal, are posted online on the Treasurer of Ohio website.) Dr. Hunt’s new contract does include an annual incentive for his initiative and efforts to seek out, apply for, and secure new State and/or Federal Grant Funds. The annual incentive payment will be calculated and paid based upon actual dollars awarded. Incentive payments range from $3,000-$10,000 and can be calculated into the grant, therefore no money would come from the District’s budget. To date, Cardinal has not been awarded nor have we received any grants.