Voters should expect another levy on the November ballot and more elementary students will have to walk to school following Tuesday’s Huber Heights schools levy defeat. But district officials said Tuesday evening that they do not plan to make additional cuts as a result of the defeat.
For the fourth time in a row, Huber Heights voters rejected the school district’s request for new operating funds. The 5.95-mill continuous operating levy failed 60 to 40 percent, according to unofficial results from the Montgomery County Board of Elections.
The levy would have generated $4 million annually and allowed the district to restore $1.6 million in instructional programs across all grade levels. It would have cost the owner of a $100,000 home an additional $15.18 a month.
“We will roll up our sleeves and do what we can to provide the best education possible,” Superintendent Sue Gunnell said. “But at this point, we also anticipate the impact on student achievement to be more and more pronounced because there are less services and programs being provided because there are less funds. We can only stave off that for so long.”
The walk zone radius for elementary students will now increase from one mile to 1.5 miles this school year, but Gunnell said no other reductions are planned. In June, the school board completed the implementation of $6.4 million in cuts that were approved in January.
“It’s difficult to determine what more we can do,” Gunnell said. “But we will regroup, evaluate and study the results of the election.”
Kelly Bledsoe, school board president, wouldn’t speculate on any potential cuts.
“My personal view is that we still have to provide the best education we can with the resources we have,” he said. “The commitment is still there.”
The district plans to return to the ballot in November with another 5.95-mill levy. Deadline to file for the Nov. 5 ballot is today.
A November levy also would generate nearly $4 million, but cost an owner of a $100,000 home an additional $17.35 a month because of changes in the state budget. Voters will pay 12.5 percent more for new and replacement levies approved, beginning in November.
Voters last approved an operating levy in 2005. The district has cut about $14.6 million during the last three years, school officials have said.
“How many more times do we have to go through this before they realize there’s got to be another way?” resident Joe Isherwood said. “I’m all for schools, but as far as property taxes and homeowners taking the brunt of the levies down the road, I’m against.”
Leslie Young said she voted for the levy because of the impact the school system has had on her two children since they moved to Huber Heights two years ago. Young has a son who will be a fourth-grader and a daughter who will be a third-grader.
“When it comes right down to it, you can’t put a price tag on a child’s education,” Young said. “If it’s going to cost me a little more because I’m a homeowner, I’m willing to pay it. My kids are doing fantastic where they’re at and I will do anything it takes to support the schools.”
In late July, the school board voted to reduce pay-to-play fees from $750 to $428 per student per sport — with a $1,200 family cap — as well as re-implement a payment plan.
The school board approved in June two-year contracts with the Huber Heights Education Association (certified and classified staff) and the Dayton Public Service Union that will save the district more than $1.8 million.
Huber Heights also is projected to receive an additional $1.6 million during the upcoming school year and an additional $2.85 million in fiscal year 2015 from the state.
Huber Heights has an enrollment of about 6,300 students.