Sonny Fulks
Sonny Fulks
Managing Editor

Sonny Fulks is a graduate of Ohio State University and pitched four varsity seasons for the Buckeye baseball team from 1971 through 1974.  He furthered his baseball experience as a minor league league umpire for seven years, working in the Florida State League (A), the Southern League (AA), and the American Association (AAA).  He has written for numerous websites and outdoor publications, and for the past ten years has served as a regular columnist and photo editor for Gettysburg Magazine, published by the University of Nebraska Press.  Widely knowledgeable on that period of American History, Fulks is a frequent speaker on the Civil War at local roundtables throughout the Midwest. He and wife Mindy have two grown children and live in Covington, Ohio.


In the wake of failed school levies Tuesday, all sides are talking…with some pointing to the issues separating “administration” and those asked “to do the work”.

They breathed a sigh of relief Wednesday morning at Northmont and Bethel schools.  Their levies passed Tuesday in special elections where operating monies were the issue put before the voters.

At Tipp City, Xenia and Vandalia Butler…a different story.  Xenia’s levy failed miserably.  Tipp’s went down by a 2-1 margin.  And Butler’s suffered for the fact that many voters in the district claimed that they had been lied to when school administration embarked on a recent “renovation” of facilities.  And in truth, if you drive by the high school it looks like something more than a renovation.  It looks…like a new school.

Likewise, across the state other districts were asking for money on Tuesday…money on which to operate.  Yard signs cited “unity” among those in the community, administration, teachers and taxpayers. 

But there’s a disconnect when you talk with two of the three parties face to face.  With massive cuts already having come to programs like music, physical education and to overall staffing, those left to defend what’s left point to one remaining and glaring disparity.

“The schools are just too top-heavy,”  said a Miami County voter on Tuesday.  “We’re graduating fewer kids each year and we have administration coming out our ears…superindendents, assistant superintendents, principals, assistant principals and every office filled at the board office.  We have too many chiefs and not enough Indians.”

At a local eatery Tuesday teachers from one district cited another sore point between what one called “those who call the shots” and “those who do the work”.

“Our administration still gets their full insurance paid while we’re being asked to pay more of ours each year,”  one claimed.  “We haven’t had a raise in three years, our test scores have been nothing less than stable, and in most cases improved, and yet every year it costs you more to teach.  We even have to buy our own classroom supplies.  They tell us there’s no money for reimbursement.”

Another pointed to another disparity between what he called the “upper 2% of district personnel” and the “working class”.

“We have little or no arts anymore and the athletic director makes $80,000 a year.  People in the community are becoming increasingly aware.  It reminds you of what they’re saying in the political campaign, and it makes it pretty tough to ask them to vote for more money…more taxes.”

Ironically, Bethel, just 10 miles east of Tipp City and its failed levy, set the stage last year for Tuesday’s election success  by eliminating some of its administrative weight, including the full-time position of an athletic director.  Bob Hamlin, who works as a full-time math teacher and coaches boys soccer in the district, assumed the athletic administrative duties.

Around the state it’s a growing demand among voters.  Address the top, the upper 2%, to borrow from Barack Obama…not in the classrooms, where Xenia board president Wm. Spahr admitted following Tuesday’s vote that music and elementary physical education would be the next victims of district austerity.  ““Voters tonight did not support the levy, and we will automatically cut all elementary music, all but one elementary counselor, all elementary phys. ed. for this school year,” said Spahr to the Dayton Daily News.

Which begs the questions, doesn’t it?  Are they listening? 

Are the Neros fiddling while Rome burns?

The upper 2%?