11 April 2008 by Published in: General News 3 comments

The following press release was issued by the Ohio Historical Society today:

OHIO HISTORICAL SOCIETY RESTRUCTURES FOR THE FUTURE
Plan Positions Organization for Strong Statewide Services

(Columbus, Ohio, April 11, 2008) – The Ohio Historical Society today announced a restructuring to strengthen the organization and position the private nonprofit for the delivery of strong statewide services.

Facing a $2 million budget deficit resulting from the softening Ohio economy, decreased state funding and increasing inflationary expenses, the OHS Board of Trustees has approved a balanced budget of $20.9 million to support the Society’s activities in the 2009 fiscal year. These include managing a network of 59 historic sites and museums and preserving historic resources for Ohio. The approved budget represents a 3-percent decrease from 2008. The Society also will expend $4.4 million in state capital funds for various projects around Ohio.

Beginning July 1, the Society will focus its investments in priority areas of educational/interpretive programs, collections and outreach. The Board’s goal is to increase its ability to provide services to the people of Ohio, according to Richard D. Ruppert, M.D., president of the OHS Board of Trustees.

“Telling Ohio’s history and preserving our collections for all Ohioans to enjoy and learn from are our main responsibilities,” Ruppert said. “We are confident this strategic approach to restructuring will position the Ohio Historical Society for the future and to be more effective and efficient at providing statewide services.”

OHS Executive Director William K. Laidlaw Jr. added, “Since 2004 the Society has been less reliant on state support by generating income through grants and other private sources. We will continue our efforts to diversify our revenue and involve Ohio citizens.”

Budget priorities include increasing Web access, maintaining access to the Archives/Library at the Ohio Historical Center, continuing improvements in state and local government archival services, retaining most curatorial functions, providing services to local historical societies and operating the Ohio Historic Preservation Office. The Society also will continue its emphasis on museum exhibitions, public events and educational programs, such as school tours at OHS sites, National History Day in Ohio and teacher training.

In addition, the reorganization will position seven OHS sites as regional centers to provide stronger statewide history services and promote economic development through partnerships with local stakeholders, such as historical societies and chambers of commerce. These historic sites include: Adena Mansion & Gardens in Chillicothe and Fort Ancient near Oregonia for southwest Ohio; Campus Martius in Marietta for southeast Ohio; Armstrong Air & Space Museum in Wapakoneta, Fort Meigs in Perrysburg and Piqua Historical Area in Piqua for northwest Ohio; and Zoar Village in Zoar for northeast Ohio. All will retain their current hours of operation.

Although schedules have been reduced at other OHS sites, most will be open during periods of highest attendance. School and group tours will remain available. Sites with changes in hours include the Ohio Historical Center in Columbus, Paul Lawrence Dunbar House in Dayton, Flint Ridge near Brownsville, Harding Home in Marion, National Road/Zane Grey Museum near Norwich, Serpent Mound near Peebles, Youngstown Historical Center in Youngstown, Fort Laurens near Bolivar, Ohio River Museum in Marietta, Schoenbrunn Village in New Philadelphia and Wahkeena Nature Preserve near Lancaster. For Serpent Mound and Flint Ridge park access will be emphasized with limited access to buildings.

To help defray increasing operating costs, the Society will implement a $1 fee increase for adult ($8), senior ($7) and child ($4) admissions as of April 25 at all locations. School tour fees will remain $3 per person. The last fee increase occurred in 2004.

The Society will work with other groups to operate four sites under management agreements. These include Cedar Bog Nature Preserve near Urbana, Museum of Ceramics in East Liverpool, Ohio Statehouse Education & Visitors Center in Columbus and Tallmadge Church in Tallmadge.

As a part of the restructuring 47 full and part-time positions will be eliminated, including 21 coming from unfilled job vacancies. Of the 26 employees affected by job elimination, 18 worked at the Ohio Historical Center in Columbus and the remainder worked at other OHS sites. In addition, 49 employees were notified of changes in their hours. The annualized savings of these position eliminations after restructuring is $1.8 million.

“The Society regrets that a number of dedicated, knowledgeable employees will lose their jobs as we restructure,” Laidlaw said. “We extend our most sincere thanks for their contributions. These are difficult decisions in a difficult economy. Our board is confident that the changes being made are necessary for the Society to help people connect with Ohio’s past in order to understand and create a better future.”

Over the last decade, the Ohio Historical Society has had to retrench its operations as state funding declined from a staffing level of more than 400 full-time equivalent staff members in the 2001 fiscal year to 270 full-time equivalents in the 2009 fiscal year.

Employees notified today of job losses will receive a severance package, full pay of eligible leave balances and outplacement counseling. They also are welcome to apply for the Society’s position vacancies. All employment categories, from professional and managerial to part-time and support positions, were affected among the total number of positions eliminated.

Other cost-cutting measures to be taken include deferred equipment purchases and staff travel restrictions.

Once more, the Ohio Historical Society ends up being the whipping boy for the legislature’s unwillingness to do anything constructive. Once more, state funding has been slashed from the OHS budget, leaving it to flounder on its own. At this point, there’s not much left to cut other than to shut the OHS down. I guess that comes next.

It’s tragic. Apparently, nobody gives a damn.

Scridb filter

Comments

  1. Brad Snyder
    Sun 13th Apr 2008 at 1:15 pm

    Eric,

    As a fellow Ohio resident, I have to agree that these cuts really are pathetic. What I also find deplorable is the slashing that is going on, and has gone on in the past, with respect to the state’s parks system. While I understand that the state is constitutionally required to have a balanced budget, it does seem that the Ohio Historical Society always seems to bear the brunt of any budget cuts. To put the budget cuts at the Ohio Historical Society into perspective, it is interesting to note that the State of Ohio has a “rainy day” fund of $1billion that the state leaders do not want to touch. Eric, I am guessing that you still are waiting on a response from Governor Strickland to your letter.

    Brad

  2. Sun 13th Apr 2008 at 1:23 pm

    Brad,

    Unfortunately, I am still waiting for a response from Governor Strickland, but given that it’s now been several months, I don’t see any chance of getting one at this point, or of this wretched state doing anything to commemorate the sesquicentennial of the Civil War. Again, it’s because nobody seems to give a damn.

    And that’s the greatest shame of all.

    Eric

  3. Valerie Protopapas
    Mon 14th Apr 2008 at 1:20 pm

    Gentlemen,

    Again, you are going after this the wrong way. Do you remember back in the 90s, schools held bake sales to benefit this or that charity or cause. Well, since the OHS obviously is educational in nature, why not go to the State’s Department of Education and Teachers’ Union as well as the various libraries and even local school districts and see if you can get them interested in “bake sales”, “car washes” and maybe even selling candy (like the kids do to raise money for band uniforms etc.) to benefit the OHS?

    The trouble with most folks today is that the target the government to step in and help – and that’s a waste of time. People working for the government are primarily interested in funding those causes and groups that the consider “vote getters” (there’s always an election just around the corner!). Ronald Reagan had it right when he said that the scariest words you’ll ever hear are “I’m from the government and I’m here to help!”

    If you want to help the OHS, then you have to go to the People, not the government.

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