Monday, January 23, 2006

John Curry finds terrific article on Dennis

Great Article on Dennis Leone!

This is somewhat "old" news, but I found a new wrinkle in the story of reform and Dennis. As one who has scrounged for something I haven't read about Dennis (there's lots to read) I came across another "positive" that Dennis had initiated in his pre-retirement years that I knew nothing about. Seems as though this trooper authored some legislation that led Bowling Green Schools and some others to receive some additional monies (millions) for their operations. Click on the link below to see the credit given Dennis by the Bowling Green State University's retirees newsletter that was published in the fall of 2005.

I find it interesting that the newsletter also mentioned the District Administrator's Magazine title of "Robin Hood" and the "catcher of thieves." Another discovery made while reading this newsletter was that our Lawrence Kansas native wrote articles for the BG News and the Sentinel Tribune as a student at BGSU. What I didn't find was any ancestoral link to another famous Lawrencian - William Clarke Quantrill! Quantrill was also a former Ohio educator for a short period of time. There has to be a connection! I'll keep searching!!

Link: (Also printed below)

John, a Proud CORE member

BGSU Bowling Green State University
Retirees Association Newsletter
September 2005
Dennis Leone to take seat on STRS board
BG grad credited with initiating reform of retirement system
A 1972 BGSU graduate and former Bowling Green resident, Dr. Dennis Leone, is called “Robin Hood” and a “catcher of thieves” in a profile in a national publication for school administrators. Leone is credited with getting the ball rolling in February 2003 on reforms to Ohio’s State Teachers Retirement System.
On Thursday, Sept. 15, Dr. Leone, who retired last year as Chillicothe superintendent of schools, will be sworn in for a four-year term as a member of the STRS board. He received 21,461 votes, the highest number among the five candidates for two seats. Also elected was Jeff Chapman, a retired elementary teacher from Cleveland Heights, who received 19,504 votes.
Last year, the Society of Professional Journalists (Central Ohio Chapter) presented its First Amendment Award to Dr. Leone for exposing the excessive spending practices of the STRS and causing constructive change and legislative reforms. The Government Finance Officers Association will present to him its 2005 Ethics in Government Award Sept. 14.

Based on Dr. Leone’s research, the Cleveland Plain Dealer broke the scandal story in 2003, reporting on STRS:
• Paying millions in bonuses to STRS staff members while assets plunged
• Spending lavishly on art for the new STRS building
• Permitting employees to cash in unused vacation time
• Increasing significantly staff travel expenses
• Subsidizing a day care center for employees' children
The state’s pension-fund systems have since been overhauled by the legislature.
After earning dual degrees, in journalism and education, at BGSU, Dr. Leone worked as communications director at Chambers of Commerce in Mansfield and Alexandria, Va., earning a master’s degree in public relations at American University in 1976. Four years later, he received a doctorate in educational administration at the University of Arkansas. Dr. Leone returned to Alexandria to begin his public education career in 1974. “I decided my love was teaching and school administration,” he said.
Back in Ohio
Returning to Ohio in 1980 as assistant superintendent of the Preble-Shawnee School District, Dr. Leone, at age 31, was appointed superintendent there. Later he was appointed superintendent of the Liberty Center School District, serving three years before moving on to the Oxford Talawanda district for 13 years. He was the Chillicothe district’s superintendent for seven years, retiring at age 55.
Dr. Leone is married to the former Nikki Trusler, the daughter of Prof. Emeritus Ivan Trusler, who directed BGSU’s Choral Activities between 1966 and 1985. They have three adult children, daughters Shannon and Lindsay, and son Chris.
Dr. Leone is the son of Dr. Charles Leone, who was dean of BGSU’s Graduate School from 1968 to 1975 (Dr. Charles Leone died in 1992). At BGSU, Dr. Dennis Leone received a Jesse J. Currier Journalism Scholarship his senior year and wrote for The BG News and the Sentinel-Tribune as a student.
After signing the pension-reform bill on June 16, 2004, Gov. Robert Taft gave the pen to Dennis Leone.
Compiled by Jim Gordon from Web sites of DA District Administrator, ORTA, Cincinnati AAUP chapter, and e-mail and phone interviews.

Former STRS head charged
THE executive director of the STRS, Herb Dyer, resigned in August 2003 after more than 100 state legislators signed a statement calling for him to step down. Dyer apologized at the time for saying that retirees needed to eat out less if they couldn’t afford the fund’s higher health insurance costs. On Aug. 3, Dyer was charged with improperly accepting golf rounds, theater tickets and other gifts while directing STRS. He is to appear in Franklin County Municipal Court Sept. 8. Dyer, 66, was the principal speaker at the inaugural Convocation of the BGSU Retirees Association in 1995.

Legislation worth more than $3.34 million to BG schools
DENNIS LEONE, described as an aggressive administrator, left a large footprint worth more than $3.34 million on Bowling Green schools. “The folks at Bowling Green City Schools know me because I authored the legislation in 1993 that annually produces additional state revenue to the districts in Bowling Green, Athens, Kent, and Oxford because of their excessively high amounts of state-owned, tax-exempt real estate,” he said in July. At the time, Dr. Leone was superintendent of the Talawanda district at Oxford, home of Miami University.
The additional amounts were $143,365 in 1994, $428,169 in 1995, $727,069 in 1996, $736,294 in 1997, $652,656 in 1998, and $653,191 in 1999. Beginning in 2000, this “impact aid” was combined “with our basic aid through property value adjustments,” said Rhonda Melchi, Bowling Green district treasurer. “Therefore we could no longer determine how much we received.”
William Hall, who was Bowling Green superintendent in 1994, recalled that Dr. Leone’s impact-aid legislation came at a time when it was desperately needed. “The district was $3 million in debt and no idea how it got there,” Dr. Hall said. The additional state funding “was a real shot in the arm [along with passage of] an emergency operating levy.” Dr. Hall, noted for rescuing financially strapped school districts, now is superintendent of the Blue Mountain School District, Orwigsburg, Pa., about 70 miles northwest of Philadelphia.

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