The Board of Education approved placing a $10.4 million emergency levy for operating costs on the November ballot on Monday night. It is the fourth time in two years the district has tried to pass an emergency levy for operations.
The 6.3 mill levy would cost the owner of a home with an appraised value of $100,000 an additional $220.50 for each of the levy’s five years. The levy will raise $10.4 million each year.
“I’m confident as ever that we will pass this levy,” board member Mick Lundy said. The levy is about half-a-million dollars less than the emergency operating levy defeated last November.
During the past 10 years, voters have not approved an operating levy for operations . According to the district’s five-year forecast, it would start the 2015 fiscal year with around $5.6 million in the bank, not enough to open the schools for 2015/16 school year, according to Stephen Maag, the district’s treasurer.
The district has sought new funding since May 2011. Voters did approve an $84 million bond issue in 2008 to build a middle school and elementary school, and renovate the remaining eight school buildings but that money only can be used for construction costs.
During the past two years, the board has cut the district budget by $13 million through staff and program cuts, and other measures. Included in those cuts is a 12.5 percent reduction in salaries and wages by cutting teaching staff 10 percent, administration by 12 percent and support staff by 8 percent.
District voters have defeated four consecutive operating levies since May 2011. The most recent was last November — a 6.7 mill emergency operating levy that failed 50.3 percent to 49.6 percent.
The board originally proposed a 6.7-mill emergency levy, but withdrew it to see what changes the state General Assembly might make in the funding of public education. The new biennial budget gives the district a 1.38 percent increase ($137,757) in the 2014 fiscal year, and 2.45 percent ($238,196) more in fiscal year 2015.
“We were not the recipients of significant funds,” Maag said.
He pointed out that nearby similar districts got greater increases. Fairborn, for instance, will receive a 6.25 percent increase ($1 million) in FY2014 and 8 percent ($1.5 million) FY2015. Xenia gets a 6.25 percent increase ($1.1 million) and 6.9 percent ($1.3 million); Huber Heights 6.25 percent ($1.6 million) and 10.5 percent ($2.8 million).
“All of those districts have passed operating levies in the past 10 years,” Maag said.
Lundy said the board’s advocacy committee spoke with the area’s state representative and senator before the passage of the budget to see if district could get more state aid.
“We did our best. The decision was those other districts needed it (the aid) more than us,” he said. “We need to move forward and pass this levy.”