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Westlake School Board Election 2011: Robert Bodi

As part of our election coverage, Westlake Patch will provide profiles of each of the candidates for school board.

Editor's Note: As part of Westlake Patch's , we will provide profiles of each of the candidates running for office. These profiles will offer biographical and issue-oriented details about each of the candidates to help you, the voters, make more-informed decisions at the ballot box. Stay tuned for more coverage of the election.

Name: Robert F. Bodi

Date of Birth: March 8, 1964

Occupation: Intellectual property attorney as partner at Pearne & Gordon LLP in Cleveland

Education: Electrical Engineering, Applied Mathematics, Law

Family: Wife Holly; son Andrew (8 years old, in third grade at Hilliard); and daughter Annabelle (6 years old, in first grade at Hilliard)

Years residing in Westlake: 1.5 years

Office Sought: Westlake Board of Education

Previous Public Offices Held: None

Registered: Republican

Email: cterfb@bodi.com

Campaign Web Page: votebodi.com

Candidate Statement: In these troubled economic times, Westlake needs a School Board that will embody strict fiscal discipline overseeing the taxpayer’s money, while ensuring educational excellence. Throwing money at the school district will not result in excellence, but inefficiency. With Westlake schools deteriorating for lack of maintenance, teachers’ salaries averaging over $70,000 per year and rapidly rising with annual raises of over 7.5 percent with the ever increasing costs of fringe benefits, and a serious financial deficit looming, the current dysfunctional School Board has failed to provide leadership and proper stewardship of the taxpayers’ money. 

I pledge to impose strict fiscal discipline on the district, to enforce Board decorum, and provide necessary leadership so that the Westlake School System partners with the community, including local businesses leaders and financial experts, to find economical and cost efficient means of ever greater academic improvement. Furthermore, I will ensure that all the citizens of Westlake, including all taxpayers of Westlake, are adequately represented and their voices heard. I will not cave in to special interests that are driving the current Board, but instead represent the entire community.

Typical school board candidates and the unions talk about putting the children first, but their actions show that this is not the case. Teacher layoffs and cutting bus service while paying salaries far in excess of professional market rates and allowing buildings to deteriorate shows where their loyalties lie. I believe that putting children first means spending money wisely and effectively: “Excellence within Budget” is my pledge.

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Westlake Resident-Joe Smith October 29, 2011 at 09:32 PM
Tom... There are no negative intentions regarding Mr. Bodi's children in the question. I am simply bring up facts that he has posted on his website. Many would agree that if you desire to be on the BOE you should also have the desire to have your children within the schools. After all, the BOE is working for the children correct? What better motivator is there to ensure the best for your children? Those who send their children to schools outside the district but provide service on the BOE would then have a different motive. This practice is questionable. Perhaps they are not speaking for all taxpayers, only those who send their children to private schools. I don't see it as a parenting choice either. We should make the best choices for our children, and the BOE should make the best choices for all the children in the community. Overall, we hear more about the taxpayer than children in Mr. Bodi's dialogue. Justing bringing to light some facts that voters need to realize.
Robert Bodi October 29, 2011 at 11:54 PM
Duane, enough already. I certainly know the difference between operating levies and bond issues. I have more financial analysis at my website at VoteBodi.com than any other candidate, so don't accuse me of not knowing what I am talking about. I do, and the financial situation is dire.
Robert Bodi October 29, 2011 at 11:57 PM
Joe, this is your problem. It is NOT a simple yes or no answer. Putting a levy on the ballot without voter support is a waste of time and money (ballot issues cost the district money). But of course, you don't care about realistically attacking the problem. You just want to attack the messenger of bad news: the district is in trouble, financially.
Robert Bodi October 29, 2011 at 11:59 PM
Kasich is talking about average salaries in the state. Clearly, he cannot address specifically what teachers are making in every district. Westlake salaries are about $14,000 more than the state average. Westlake is going broke, and must get costs under control. Merely focusing on benefits will not solve the problem, as salaries are a much bigger percentage of the budget.
Robert Bodi October 30, 2011 at 12:02 AM
Duane, $84M divided by 4,000 students is $21,000 per student. And that doesn't count phase 2. That is a lot to pay to reduce a $2600 expense, is it not?
Robert Bodi October 30, 2011 at 12:06 AM
Joe, in private industry we have no problem identifying good performing employees and poor performing employees. In any school, every student, parent, teacher, and principle knows who is good and who is not. We all knew when we went to school who were the good teachers and who were not. It is not rocket science to determine who deserves to be rewarded, and who deserves to be replaced. no need for miracles, just some common sense and the ability to actually implement performance pay. That's all we need. And the ideal that just because Westlake is rated excellent that all its teachers are excellent is foolish, Joe. There is much room for improvement.
Robert Bodi October 30, 2011 at 12:10 AM
I'll tell you how, Sam. When Westlake salaries are driven up to the top 3% in the entire state, when salaries will eat up 100% of revenues just next year, when the Board has failed to even poll the community to see if they would support a new tax increase, when the Board must lay off 17 teachers and cut high school busing, when even the teachers agree that maybe it is time to consider concessions,that is when we can honestly say that the Board has failed to provide sufficient fiscal discipline. The fact that they stretched out this levy so long is a testament to the fact that they asked for far more than they needed in 2006 (after running a scare campaign subsequent to the failure of the levy in 2005). They had such large cash balances that, rather than properly maintain the schools, they decided to support their union backers with large raises (averaging about 7% a year for 4 years).
Sam Quint October 30, 2011 at 01:06 PM
Those are EXACTLY the cuts that EVERY district makes first to save money and keep in class services for the children at the same level. You and I both know busing isn't about HS kids who can drive to school not being able to ride the bus it's about the private school kids that Westlake is required to bus for free that is the real issue here. Don't you agree that in tough financial times that this is a perk that should go because it has ZERO impact in the classroom? I agree that personel costs are the largest part of ANY school districts budget. The workforce also has multiple college degrees. Your stated $10,000 hatchet job on the teachers raises roughly $3,000,000. Where is the rest going to come from without a levy? You cant expect to balance the budget on the backs of the teachers because the numbers just don't add up. Pay to play sports, school fees, buildings closing right at 4:00. I'm I correct that you would support these since they do not impact the in classroom experience for the children? Saying that the 2006 levy was for raises for the teachers instead of maintaining the buildings is just a lie. You didn't live in Westlake back then so you missed seeing that money going towards the MASSIVE technology upgrade that happened in every building during that time. That is where that money went NOT the teachers contract that didn't start until 2009....the same contract that increased their healthcare costs
Robert Bodi October 31, 2011 at 02:47 AM
So tell me Sam, do the parents of the children in private schools not pay taxes, too? And you want to take away from them the little that they get for their money? Really? And you are correct, the busing is among the first services to be cut. And then teacher layoffs. And then more service cuts and more layoffs. All because the district has chosen to pay salaries higher than 97% of the state. Do you think that is a valid tradeoff? And what happens when the taxpayer decides that enough is enough, and refuses to pass any levies until costs are under control? This is already happening in Brecksville, along other districts. And it will happen here in Westlake, too, if we don't get costs under control.
Robert Bodi October 31, 2011 at 02:56 AM
Joe, the reason that you hear more about the taxpayer than children from me, is because the taxpayer is ultimately in control of the money in the district. If the school board does not prove to the taxpayer that it is spending the taxpayer money responsibly, then the taxpayer will withhold future money, and the schools will suffer. And you forget that the parents who send their children to private schools, the couples who have chosen not to have children, retitrees whose children have grown and moved out, and unmarried households are all taxpayers too. Do they not deserve a voice as well? They all contribute their taxes to the district, and they ALL deserve to be heard. I am out speaking for them. None of them want to harm Westlake schools, and all support educational excellence. But they think that it should be done in a fiscally sound manner, and I happen to agree with them. So am I for the children? Of course I am. But I am smart enough to know that it is the children who will suffer if the district mismanages its finances and the taxpayer decides that enough is enough. We must stop that from happening, and the only way to do that is to get the financial situation under control. That will help the children more than anything. From what I hear you saying, Tom, is that the only people who should have a voice are those with children in the district. That I cannot agree with. The entire community gets a voice, and that is how it should be.
Tom Horwitz October 31, 2011 at 04:57 AM
Bob - I think your last paragraph was meant to be directed to Mr. Smith, not me. My point was that political candidates should not have to justify their parental choices. Where a candidate sends his or her kids to school has absolutely no bearing on my voting decisions.
Sam Quint October 31, 2011 at 04:28 PM
Your proposed $10,000 paycut would only raise about $3,000,000. So where are the other savings going to come from? Asking, make that demanding, that teachers take an average 14% paycut doesn't solve the problem. The math doesn't add up. There has to be more Even with a paycut or pay freeze more teacher layoffs would have to happen without a levy. There is no way getting around it. Yes private school parents do pay taxes they could also choose to send their kids to the Westlake schools and get free transportation k-8. If times are tough and we are in fiscal crisis then they should be tough times for everybody......shared sacrifice.....right? Are you really that new to Westlake that you think the average Westlake citizen compares Westlake to Brecksville and Strongsville? It's all about how we compare to River and Bay and to a lesser degree Avon and Avon Lake. Avon Lake passed 2 levies in 2009
David Albert November 02, 2011 at 11:34 PM
Joe, Mr. Mays does not have any children in the district anymore. Additionally one of his children graduated from a district outside of Westlake. I believe it was Lake Ridge Academy. Does this mean he is no longer a viable member of the board of education for Westlake? Personally, I feel there are numerous reasons that he should not be on the board; however, where his children have attended school is not one in my mind. Oh, and Mrs. Winter had her child in Montessori school for the first year of her tenure on the board. I would assume that this would disqualify her in your mind as well.
Duane Gibson November 03, 2011 at 01:46 AM
Welcome back Dave, off probation? Interesting attempt to deflect attention from the original question Joe asked. Certainly having children in the district has some merit, but are you really going to disparge Mays for graduating both children out of Westlake? You may want to check on the Lake Ridge story. Are you really starting sentences with "I believe" again? How about a little truth in advertising and start them with "I know ghis is probably not true, but.......". Joe hit it right on the head. Bodi has spoke almost exclusively on finances and the few times he has mentioned students hehas shown a complete ignorance of the issues, especially special education, the difference in operating levies or bond issues, and the teacher's contract outside of just a couple paragraphs. I stated before, Bodi is simply unqualified.
David Albert November 03, 2011 at 11:20 AM
Duane, once again read the entire post (I have mentioned that before). Mr. Mays did have one child graduate outside of Westlake. I believe it was Lake Ridge Academy. This means that one graduated outside of Westlake. I am not positive on the district. I am positive it was not Westlake. For someone who researches as much as you, try reading the entire post. I also stated that this should NOT disqualify him as a board member. My point was very simple. Similar to Mr. Horwitz, where an individual decides to send their children to school is a personal choice and should remain off limits. Didn't you attack me for mentioning children in a previous post? My only mention was that one would not allow their children to behave poorly. Joe's attack was far more aggressive. Try to be consistent in your outrage and a little less hypocritical. It shows your true intentions and motives, misguided as they are.
David Albert November 03, 2011 at 12:09 PM
Duane, if you ask Mr. Mays he will readily admit that his oldest did not graduate from Westlake. Perhaps you are the one that should begin with "I am completely clueless on this topic, but.... let me comment anyhow".
David Albert November 03, 2011 at 12:31 PM
Mr. Mays's youngest did graduate from Westlake. So, one graduated outside of the district and one graduated within the district. Not both out or in. I cannot STRESS this enough. WHERE HIS OR ANYONE ELSE'S CHILDREN ATTEND SCHOOL IS A PARENTAL CHOICE THAT COMES WITH MULTIPLE FACTORS. This should NOT disqualify anyone from serving as a board member.
Natalie November 03, 2011 at 03:51 PM
I have asked this question to Mr. Mays directly, but never received an answer - Is it true that his wife was in the WTA (or WTU - I have seen it referred to both ways - don't want someone to attack like "levy" vs. "bond issue")when the last contract was approved? Wouldn't that equal a conflict of interest? Duane - don't be mean. Joe Smith - I am asking Tom Mays, not you.
Duane Gibson November 04, 2011 at 03:41 AM
David, David, David.........I never attacked you in any post. Pointing out your inconsistencies and your attempts to attach adult behavior to children's behavior was ridiculous at best. You are correct in that Mays had a child graduate outside the district. I'm still trying to connect the dots on why that is important, outside of grasping at straws. To be clear, this is much different than Sullivan who OBVIOUSLY had motives outside of Westlake PUBLIC schools. It also bears noting that when you choose to send your child to a non public school, there is cost to the public school district,which is okay based on your taxes paid. I think the word you're looking for is sarcastic, not hypocritical. I have based my comments on facts that are easily obtainable. I do not hide my feelings in this election. There is a group of candidates that are hell bent on destroying this district to satisfy their political beliefs. I am equally as committed to preserving the major reason I moved to Westlake. Thus I voted already for Mays - Winter - Falcone.
David Albert November 04, 2011 at 01:49 PM
Duane Duane Duane. Do you know how to read? Let me explain: put letters together and they formulate words, words together formulate sentences, sentences together formulate thoughts and opinions. When did I state that you attacked me? Answer: I didn't. “Attaching adult behavior to children, ridiculous?” Try that in reverse now, as that is what actually what occurred. An adult was acting like a child. I called her out. You don't like it because it is both accurate, embarrassing (both for her and the community), and you support her. Individuals hell bend on destroying the schools? Really??? Two of the three have their children in these schools. I know, one of them is mine. All three individuals in question all have higher degrees (master or above). Do you really think that they don't value education? If yes, why? Because they also believe in fiscal responsibility and do not adhere to your political viewpoint, how open-minded of you. FYI, criticizing Mr. Bodi for where he MAY send his kids to school someday, but defending Mr. Mays for engaging in the same practice is hypocritical, not sarcastic. Explaining this to you is enjoyable, that is sarcastic. Now that was your English lesson for the day. Go home, buy a dictionary, hug your kids or wife, and try not to be so hateful.
Westlake Resident-Joe Smith November 05, 2011 at 05:12 AM
Mr. Bodi, Once again you are dancing. How do you plan to define this merit pay system? Please give an example of how a teacher will be paid on merit. Feel free to use any subject area and grade level. After all, if elected you very well may have to develop this model. Kasich has not. What is your plan?
Duane Gibson November 07, 2011 at 02:06 AM
I hate myself for this, but I just have to respond to you David. Read your own comments above where YOU state that I attacked you for mentioning children in a previous post. Escort yourself over to your wife's site where you did indeed attach adult behavior to children. We've been through this before, and your insistence of an apology from Mrs. Rocco is nothing more than fodder for your own agendas (again refer back to your wife's candidate page). I believe you may have read this entire blog and somehow attached all thoughts to me. You have me confused on what point you're actually trying to make. That aside, I do reaffirm my belief that they are indeed hell bent on destroying the schools. As I stated before, the growing list of items that Bodi just doesn't know about or understand is scary. Everyone knows that fiscal ADJUSTMENTS are needed. But make no mistake, this is not the candidate we want to be making those choices. You don't prune a cherry tree with a chainsaw. Two last questions that probably won't get answered is this.........Mr. Bodi, what is your stance on current state funding for Westlake? and What is your stance on charter schools?
Westlake Resident-Joe Smith November 07, 2011 at 04:07 AM
Charter schools draw students and money from high-ranking suburban districts. Mr. Bodi... What is your stance on charter schools? Despite what you might believe, it is not an urban school distict problem. Westlake loses. District: Westlake State ranking: Excellent District enrollment: 3,891 All charter students: 62 Online charter students: 37 Base funding sent to charters: $323,127 "about $25 million in basic state aid -- plus millions more for special education and other services -- will flow to charter schools from districts that are ranked Excellent or Excellent with Distinction" Read More... http://blog.cleveland.com/metro/2011/11/charter_schools_draw_students.html
David Albert November 07, 2011 at 03:05 PM
Duane, this is both redundant and pathetic. Using profanity in a public building is sad and pathetic. Most decent parents would not permit their children to behave in this manner. It is even more pathetic that you feel this is "attaching" adult behavior to children. If you genuinely feel the opposite is true, I weep for the future of any child that you come into contact with on any level. Your quote "I do reaffirm my belief that they are indeed hell bent on destroying the schools" is yet another pathetic quote. They include three people with degrees of masters level or higher and have children in the district. One graduated multiple children from the district, another has a child in the district, and my wife has one child in the district, another will be in the district, and both she and I graduated from the district (which is more than can be said of you). Far as your ridiculous analogy of "pruning a cherry tree with a chainsaw" shows your complete lack of knowledge on our current situation. I watched several students riding their bicycles to school from Crocker Park today. That is only 2-3 miles for these kids. We cannot afford busing but have no issue with paying our staff in the top 3% of the state. Far as charter schools or any other private schooling is concerned, these parents pay taxes for the schools are you actually stating they should get nothing in return for their money?
David Albert November 07, 2011 at 03:08 PM
Joe, you failed to mentioned that state aid removal is CAPPED at what is provided to the district. So, if Westlake gets $500,000 from the state of Ohio then all that can be taken is $500,000 max. Our budget is nearly $50,000,000 which means that the $323,127 represents a robust 0.006% of our funding. Not exactly a huge amount and certainly not an amount that would devastate the district.
David Albert November 07, 2011 at 03:18 PM
Daune (continued), I have read much of what you have written and not one word has been positive or defensive of the three individuals that you seem to hate so very much. I am in no way a supporter of Tom Mays or Carol Winter; however, I have defended their position to send their children to whatever school they feel will best educate them. You on the other hand will praise one side for engaging in activities that you would condemn on the other side. You have either stated or implied that Mr. Bodi has an agenda and a political stance. Mr. Mays did not receive the GOP endorsement and immediately requested one from the Democrats. This request was not mentioned in a SunNews article. It was also not mentioned that "Video" Vern Long, the chairman of the Westlake Dem. club was also a former teacher. His nickname "Video" Vern was obtained by his over-reliance on videos in his classroom. "Video" Vern attempted to give Tom an endorsement and refuses to give one to Mrs. Gettings. Again I am not a supporter of Mrs. Gettings, but I do find her to be a very respectful and intelligent woman. If Westlake votes for her it would be nice that a moderate voice is appreciated in this city. It is pathetic that Vern did not support a real Democrat and instead attempts to promote the RINO, Tom Mays (republican in name only).
Robert Bodi November 07, 2011 at 03:49 PM
Sam, "only $3 million" savings? Since when does saving $3 million fall into the category of the trivial? This is exactly the reason such problems exist. A few million here, a few million there, and only then we are talking about real money? And regarding your argument that these are "EXACTLY the cuts that EVERY district makes first to save money" I agree, and I see it has to end. What they do is that they cut the services that will cause pain to the children and the parents, in order to force them to support and approve a new tax levy. Rather than trimming salaries to be more consistent with the market (doing that would irritate their supporters, the unions), they will cut services and threaten more cuts, to demand even more money, which they will then use to again reward their special interest supporters (e.g., the unions). I say that this cycle has got to stop, and I will work toward that goal, whether I get on the Board or not.
Robert Bodi November 07, 2011 at 03:53 PM
Duane, have you even read the teachers' contract? I have. From start to end, all 107 pages. And regarding the issues, from your posts, I think that you need to look into a mirror to see the person who really does not understand the issues. Of coures, it has never been about the issues to you. It has all been about protecting the status quo, of avoiding making the hard choices, and shooting the messenger. I think that the citizens of Westlake are a lot smarter than you give them credit for, Duane.
Robert Bodi November 07, 2011 at 03:56 PM
I believe in competition, Joe. Westlake schools can only be made stronger and better if the citizens have a choice to send their children somewhere else if their local schools fail them. But as your numbers point out, charter schools have had little impact on Westlake, so I consider this a non-issue.
Westlake Resident-Joe Smith November 08, 2011 at 12:40 AM
You feel that Westlake Schools losing $323,127 to fund charter schools has little impact on our schools and tax payers? You feel that MILLIONS more that flow from schools ranked Excellent or Excellent with Distinction has little impact? At what point do you feel the Westlake tax payers should be concerned that their tax dollars are funding charter schools and not their local district? What is the magic dollar amount lost by Westlake that would spark your concern? $500K, 1 Million, 10 Million?

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