School board race fact checker - part 1

Written by ONE Olentangy on .

A reader recently provided ONE Olentangy with an email sent by Powell resident Melanie Leneghan, which she distributed on behalf of school board candidates Katy Barricklow and Brian Helwig. The email contains so many factual errors that ONE Olentangy has decided to not only fact check this email, but also continue to fact check all four school board candidates’ support pieces between now and the Nov. 5 election.

ONE Olentangy starts with the support piece for Helwig and Barricklow. Below in italics on the left is the original email statement by Leneghan and to the right are the facts obtained by ONE Olentangy.


           Email Statement     


"Now, Feasel and King want to build a 16th elementary school without enrollment projections to warrant a new building." Neither Julie Feasel nor Dave King want to build a 16th elementary school. "Elementary 16 isn't even on the drawing board at this time," said Feasel. The current board hasn't authorized the sale of the bonds for the school that was approved during the last levy. According to Olentangy treasurer Brian Kern, Olentangy has made a general practice of not selling bonds until a project has been scheduled to begin.
"Feasel and King had no problem placing a $25 million bond on the last levy (supposedly to pay for this unnecessary sixteenth school that has not yet been built) even though a new elementary school should cost more like $15 million." According to the district's website postings from April and May of 2011, the $24.4 million in bonds approved by voters would be used for the 16th elementary school, if needed, and for permanent improvements. Olentangy's treasurer Brian Kern explained, "$15.245 million of the $24.4 bond package is slated for elementary No. 16, if the need arises. The balance is being used for various capital improvement projects, including updating technology."
"Feasel and King have been sitting on this $25 million and the taxpayer has paid interest on this $25 million debt for three years now." According to Olentangy's treasurer Brian Kern, interest is not incurred unless and until bonds are sold. "From the date the 2011 levy was passed until August of 2013, only $2.1 million of the $24.4 million in bonds have been sold. Last month, we sold an additional $7.055 million in bonds, which will be used for capital improvements. The Development Committee reviewed the proposed improvements prior to this being done," Kern added.
"NOW they are warning us of another upcoming levy in 2015. They have got to be kidding, but they're not." Both Feasel and King have told ONE Olentangy that they are committed to keeping the district off the ballot and stretching the levy as long as possible. The board publicly reviews the treasurer's five-year forecast, which is also reviewed by Olentangy residents who volunteer their time on the district's Finance & Audit Committee.
"They cannot beat the union's sweethearts without financial help. The "Olentangy For Kids" political action committee which is funded by the teacher's union (the money comes right out of their paychecks and goes directly to the pac) will be financing their friends, Feasel (her husband is in the teachers union) and King."                                            

According to Board of Elections filings going back to 2007, Olentangy For Kids (OFK) has not been funded by a teachers' union, but mostly by a combination of business and individual donations. While individual teachers may have contributed to OFK, the only way to determine that would be to cross-reference the Olentangy staff roster with OFK contributions.

According to Mark Iannotta, OFK treasurer, Olentangy For Kids has never made a contribution to any candidate campaign and will not do so in this or in future campaigns. "The contributions we receive are for the express purpose of educating the Olentangy community about the impact of bond and levy issues on the ballot. OFK will only use the contributions for their intended purpose and not to support individual candidates for any elected position."

Finally, ONE Olentangy inquired about the employment status of Julie Feasel's husband. According to district records, John Feasel is employed by Olentangy Schools as an Intervention Aide. His employment classification is ineligible for membership in any Olentangy union - teacher or otherwise.


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