The school board voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a two-year contract with the teachers union and place a tax levy on November ballots expected to save taxpayers $46 a year for every $100,000 of property value.
Rather than seek renewal of a five-year, 10.3 mill levy, the board voted to ask voters to approve a five-year, 8.78 mill levy. The levy would cost property owners about $269 a year for every $100,000 of property value — $46 less than renewal of the existing levy, expiring at the end of the year, according to the Warren County Auditor’s Office.
Board Vice President Jim Rigano said the smaller levy was decided upon by the board after gauging the costs of the teachers contract in an executive session.
The contract includes a resumption of step increases in pay and 2 percent increases in base salaries for teachers and other certified staff in each of the next two years.
The base increases will raise the rate to $35,959 in 2014-2015, raising this starting rate above other districts in Warren County. In exchange, the teachers agreed to pick up another 5 percent of health insurance premiums, leaving the split at 80 percent for the board and 20 percent for the employees.
The union also agreed to withdraw all three unfair labor practice lodged against the board, stemming from three months of contentious negotiations.
“Overall, our members are pleased with this settlement,” Scott Maney, president of the teachers union, said in a press release. “It has been very stressful for the teachers and we now look forward to preparing our classrooms in order to properly greet students in the upcoming school year.”
Board President Kelly Kohls said the board opted for a smaller levy after factoring in the costs of new contracts for teachers and other certified workers, as well as classified staff, into revenue projections through 2017.
“We saw no reason to ask the community for more revenue than we need,” Kohls said in a prepared statement.
Superintendent Todd Petrey was in favor of the full millage and $9.2 million tax collection in the levy expiring at the end of the year.
“From an educational standpoint, there is so much we could do for kids,” Petrey said before the meeting.
Kohls declined requests for public comment at the meeting before calling for a vote on putting the levy on the November ballot. There was no public discussion of the lower amount, opposed by parents in past meetings.
The district projects a $7.2 million surplus in 2017, as well as new revenues, including an additional $2 million over the next two years from the state budget, Kohls said.
The reduced levy is expected to raise just over $7.9 million a year in operating money, more than $1.3 million less than the existing levy.