The Greenon Local Board of Education will be asking local voters to approve additional funding for the district. On the May 6th ballot, voters are asked to approve a 4.96 mill five year levy that will generate $1,265,000 in new money. The board proposes that the funds are to be used for operations according to an open letter sent to all residents in early 2014 by the district.
A more recent mailing alerted voters to the fact that the district will also be asking them to approve renewals of two existing levies with the first request to appear on the November 2014 ballot.
The Citizens for a Quality Education, the Political Action Committee formed in support of the levy stated reasons why the district is seeking new money at this time. The Enon Eagle contacted the district and researched State websites to learn more.
The mailer indicates that the district will reduce the FFA program, eliminate the Family and Consumer Science (FCS) courses and eliminate the STEM courses for seventh and eighth graders next school year if additional funding is not approved on May 6th. The PAC also indicates that the district will receive the designation of “Fiscal Emergency” by 2016.
Executive Assistant Megan Anthony explained that the FFA and the FCS programs are “weighted” in the state funding system as career-technical education. She noted that although the community believes that these programs generate “revenue through extra state funding” this is not correct. Anthony explained that because of the career designation, the district does receive some funding for the courses, but it does not cover the entire cost of providing these opportunities.
Recently, community speculation on the reduction of one of the FFA instructors indicated that Vo-Ag instructor Ryan McCoart had already accepted an employment offer and would be leaving the district. Ms. Anthony acknowledged that Mr. McCoart had tenured his resignation on April 14th and the board accepted his resignation at their April meeting. This leaves the district with one current instructor at the high school for the next school year. Should the levy not be approved, the course enrollment could be limited.
Anthony confirmed that 187 students participated in Vo-Ag classes this year. Future Farmers of America (FFA) is a program that technically is not a class, but an opportunity for not only the high school students, but also first year graduates as well. Thirteen 2013 grads elected to participate this year in addition to the Vo-Ag students currently enrolled at the high school.
The district offers more than one FCS course. With one instructor, the numbers were not as clear as the Vo-Ag course. Anthony stated that some students take more than one course offered and could have been counted twice in the figure provided.
The district, citing declining enrollment, elected to cut costs by implementing a plan this year to reduce the number of buildings housing students from four to three for the 2014 – 2015 school year. As the plan was developed, the board finalized the closing of Hustead Elementary. Published reports have indicated that the district will realize savings in the area of close to $700, 00. The district will reportedly be able to reduce staffing by 15 positions to include 4 teaching staff. It has been stated that this would be accomplished mostly by attrition. The district reportedly will reduce administration by one position (a retirement), one secretarial slot, and one human resource position.
The Eagle asked Anthony for information on the costs associated with keeping the Hustead building as a storage facility as reported recently. In her reply, Anthony indicated in early April that no estimate has been determined. She stated that the district has knowledge that the “cost to operate Hustead fully is about $65,000”. This amount “has not been included in our estimates for savings for next year” she said as the district does anticipate some costs in partially operating the building.
The Citizens for Quality Education mailer indicated that the district must approve new funding to avoid a “Fiscal Emergency” in 2016. Information available from the Ohio Department of Education states that each district must submit a five year forecast that is reviewed, and determinations are made as to whether a district has the potential to incur a deficit in the first three years of that forecast. If a deficit in two years or three years of the plan is found, a letter is sent to the district requesting that they submit a proposal to eliminate the deficit outlining specific actions. ODE can declare Fiscal Caution if the five-year forecast shows that conditions exist that could result in Fiscal Watch or Fiscal Emergency. The district is given the opportunity to develop and implement proposals to avoid deficits without being placed in Fiscal Caution. A district would need to submit a plan to the Auditor of State that deals with the shortfalls and once accepted the State would then monitor the plan. At this time the only area school district on the Fiscal Caution list is Fairborn City. Only eight districts statewide appear on the Fiscal Emergency list.
In 2013 the Eagle worked with a representative of the Clark County Auditor’s office to assist property owners in calculating the approximate cost of proposed levies. Homeowners can visit the Auditor’s web page at www.clarkcountyauditor.org to find the information needed to complete the calculation as outlined.
Select the “property search” button. On the left menu select “search” and then click on the “owner” or “address” tab and enter your information.
In the “valuation” section of the page, you will see “Taxable Value”. To calculate your estimated cost, follow the steps below.
Taxable Value multiplied by levy millage. Then divide this number by 1,000 to find your tax.
Example: 35,000 X 4.96=173,600.00
173,600.00 divided by 1,000 =$173.60 additional tax per year
Two other Clark County districts are asking for voter approval of funding on the May ballot this year. Clark-Shawnee is asking voters to approve additional funds for their district. The school board has placed a 6.95 mill levy on the May 6th ballot in hopes of adding 2,257,998 to their budget lines. According to a posting on their web site, Superintendent Gregg Morris states that the district is committed to financial stewardship and efficiency. Like neighboring districts, Clark-Shawnee has made a number of reductions over the past three years. Voters have denied new monies in the past couple of elections and the school board is hoping for better results this time around.
Tecumseh Local has seen their share of attempts to approve new funds for the financially strapped district end with voters turning them away more than ten times in recent years. The district will be asking voters to continue to support the schools by approving two renewals that will bring in around 2.1 million dollars according to Superintendent Brad Martin. The district has made a number of cuts to programs to date. Working with the State of Ohio, the district has received additional state funds that are “restricted” and will be used to provide all day Kindergarten next year. The district has been able to avoid Fiscal Caution by working on a plan to continue with available funding. Passage of the renewals is critical for the district moving forward.