Westlake Schools: Challenged by “Educate Westlake”

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In the wake of the failed operating levy on the November ballot, Westlake Schools are looking at plans to cut more than $2 million from its budget.

An anonymous campaign operating under the name “Educate Westlake” has frustrated Westlake School Board members and administrators with both email and snail mail campaigns urging voters to oppose school tax increases.

Educate Westlake launched an email blast week, congratulating the community on the levy defeat and openly criticizing Board and Administration, even mocking the Board.

Here is the email message:


Dear Westlake Resident,

We last wrote to you a day before the November 5 election when you resoundingly defeated Westlake school board’s demand for $7.4 MILLION in additional taxes every year.  As you know, this $7.4 MILLION would have been in addition to the $50 MILLION that we already provide each year.

Since the election we’ve spoken to many of you.  For those voting no, the overwhelming reason you gave is that the Westlake administration and school board either failed or refused to explain why they needed an additional $7.4 MILLION every year and where it would be spent.

You said you are disappointed in the lack of facts, data, and transparency from our school board and administration.  You believed that they resorted to threats, emotion pleas, and political slogans in pursuit of an undisclosed agenda.

Going forward, we plan to reach out to you at least monthly, mainly by recapping our school board meetings. We attended the November school board meeting and want to highlight a couple of events.



Robert Stoll, a citizen who spoke during public comment, suggested apermanent improvement (PI) levy to ensure the district maintains our buildings properly.  Mr. Stoll explained the benefits of a PI levy to all stakeholders.  Mr. Stoll’s statements stood out from all others made during this 3 hour meeting in their creativity, positive nature and inclusivity.


We learned that Mr. Stoll is a business and economics professor at Ashland University.  Before that he spent many years working in the private sector, which helps him understand how most Westlake residents view our public schools.


In response to Dan Keenan’s recommended cuts after failure of the levy,board member Tony Falcone said “I’ll support it because I trust you [Keenan] and Mark [Pepera].”

No independent thinking.  No consideration of what his constituents want. Just a politician hiding behind the bureaucrats who report to him.

We recommend that Tony Falcone be replaced with a rubber stamp with his signature on it.  The new stamp will cost about $15.  Anytime an issue arises that requires Tony’s signature, Dan and Mark can stamp it for him since he trusts whatever they want to do.

The district will save thousands of dollars every year because it will no longer have to pay Tony to attend board meetings.  The district will also free up money that is currently budgeted to Tony’s development and educationas a board member.

Westlake Board members have asked Educate Westlake to drop its anonymity, step forward and engage in traditional dialogue. BOE members dispute both Educate Westlake’s tactics and information. But Educate Westlake, now holding a voter advantage in the wake of the November election, has not responded. After seeing the November operating levy go down to defeat, Westlake Schools face an unprecedented challenge in maintaining school quality. The question is: Will the Westlake community accept anonymous campaigns as it charts the future of public school funding in the city? Are traditional political dialogues a thing of the past? As the Westlake BOE charts its coming funding strategies, it will be difficult to strategize around an anonymous entity like Educate Westlake as long as the politics of negativity are accepted by the community.

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