Your employee-pay article contributed little to the public's understanding of the financial problem the Toledo school district faces ("Some in TPS make more than $100,000," March 29).
Spending is not the problem; it's the severe reduction in income the district receives from Columbus and from local property taxes that has undermined the system's financial stability.
By any fair standard, Toledo's salaries and wages are low compared locally or statewide. The truth is that Toledo taxpayers have been getting a bargain for a long time. A few people do earn a lot of money, but in doing so, actually save money.
Take, for instance, the poor print-shop guy with the overtime. Many thousands of dollars are saved each year because TPS stopped relying solely on school-site copiers with their extraordinary repair costs and went to an overnight printing service. I had something to do with that decision and was criticized by a school-board member at the time for "hurting local suppliers."
I was not sympathetic. Joe the printer saves us about $20,000 a year by working overtime. Remember, because TPS buys paper by the truckload, having its own print shop was a wise investment.
Sick leave is credited by Ohio law to every school employee in the state at the rate of one and one-quarter days per month. Teachers donate hundreds of days a year to less fortunate colleagues who, often because of catastrophic illness, have no sick days left. Severance based on unused sick leave was a way to keep our teaching staff stable because promising young teachers were leaving for suburban salaries and greater parental support.
Gov. Ted Strickland and the legislature are the real culprits in this budget dance. TPS lost $6 million a year when the governor adopted his ill-advised new distribution formula. As an example, he gave our "poverty assistance" money to charter schools. Goodbye, $2 million.
Couple this with the decline in property values and the county auditor's re-evaluation efforts, and we lose $6 million more, mostly in the first 10 mills of TPS property tax.
The task of saving the schools might be too great, given the support levels in Columbus and local coupling with the economy. If so, the collapse will come as a shock to many people outside Toledo who hold our schools in higher esteem than the people who need them the most.
Editor's Note: Dal Lawrence, former president of the Toledo Federation of Teachers, is married to Francine Lawrence, the current president of the teachers' union.
Francine Lawrence, president of the Toledo Federation of Teachers, says, "Teachers don't feel valued by the community." Let me run a little something by Ms. Lawrence. Quality teachers are second only to responsible parents. That is a given. New buildings do not make successful graduates. Unions do not make quality teachers.
Responsibility for the $30 million budget deficit that the Toledo Public Schools have incurred rests with the Toledo Board of Education and the teachers' union, not the teachers.
If Ms. Lawrence wants to know who's not valuable in her community, she should look in the mirror.
Congratulations to Lucas County on its months-long, carefully executed search for a dog warden.
If only the board of trustees at the University of Toledo had taken the time to explore its many options before it chose to ignore - for no particular reason - a long-standing tradition.
The board instead appointed - or is it anointed? - a president.
Eric G. Johnson
When a letter stated that the end of civility in politics was initiated by the left when George W. Bush took office, a question came to mind ("Blade gangs up on Republicans," April 12): Specifically, what would you call the eight years that Bill Clinton was in office when Ken Starr, Dick Armey, Jesse Helms, Tom Delay, Newt Gingrich, Dan Burton, Henry Hyde, and others were stooping to a new level of scurrilous and uncivil behavior in regard to President Clinton?
They set the low standard, and apparently the Tea Party and assorted Republican right-wing nuts are now determined to show that they can be equally rude, crude, and disgusting.
The Senate has the responsibility of protecting the Americans from reckless behavior by banks, mortgage companies, and credit-card companies.
These companies have been allowed to do as they please for too long.
After putting our country in financial danger, they show no willingness to change. Instead, they reward themselves for playing Russian roulette with the financial stability of our country.
The Senate must enact laws that make the companies accountable.
Maureen Dowd's recent columns have been nothing but attacks against the Catholic Church.
As a faithful Catholic, I am deeply offended by her columns, but there is no point in responding to her childish rants.
I have no problem with the intent of Maureen Dowd's April 14 op-ed column ("Too little too late from the Catholic Church").
The problem of pedophilia of some priests confronting the church must be addressed as quickly as possible.
But to denigrate the priesthood as "men in dresses" goes far over the line on a topic that, frankly, has nothing to do with the article itself.
I would suggest that Ms. Dowd, and anyone else who has made this comment over the years, refer to Exodus 28, where God details to Moses and Aaron exactly what He wants His priests to wear to distinguish themselves.
To make fun of this is to belittle all the denominations that still follow God's wishes.
Today we would call this a "cheap shot." Shame on Ms. Dowd.
Any act of child molestation is abhorrent, but Maureen Dowd uses this tragedy against the teachings and the traditions of the Catholic Church.
She makes it a point to identify herself as Catholic, but I'm not sure why, except as a way to add weight to her accusations.
There doesn't seem to be anything about the church she doesn't find wrong, and many of her statements regarding church doctrine show a total lack of familiarity with basic church teachings.
Her assault on the church does nothing to inform her readers or help to right any wrongs.
Choosing not to recycle is a homeowner's right.
People are out of work, and the decision is not foolish or selfish.
Some cannot pay $15 a month for garbage pickup.
H. F. Wolf