Facing a $4 million deficit, Vandalia-Butler school board will put a 6.99-mill operating levy on the November ballot and pursue outsourcing the district’s busing services.
The proposed levy would be for six years.
“We have failed three times. That doesn’t mean the need for the money has gone away,” said Budd Zupp, board president, after the Tuesday vote. “In fact the 6.99-mill levy that we’re asking for now, would not generate as much money as it would have three tries ago. So, we’re getting less money.
“We’re asking for less, even though it doesn’t look like that to the voters. There is still a need for the money.”
The district has failed to pass a 6.99-mill operating levy three times.
The new levy comes four months after the board voted to cut 47 positions, including those of 33 teachers. At the time, the district was facing a $7 million deficit, according to Bethany Reiff, district spokeswoman.
The district has been able to bring back some of the jobs because of the recently approved agreement between the district and the Vandalia-Butler Education Association. The agreement calls for pay freezes for all employees for the third straight year.
Mike Broyles, who has children who are students of the district, said he will not be voting for the levy.
“Within four years or five years, they are going to be coming back for more money and you just can’t continue to ask for more money,” he said. “People in the community haven’t had raises. They can’t increase their income.”
Zafar Rizvi, who also has children in the district, said he will vote for the levy.
“It seems to me that we are cutting too much…This is about our kids,” he said. “It’s not about spending some money here. If we cannot provide the best education for our kids, we cannot succeed.”
The board also voted to allow Superintendent Bradley Neavin to enter into contract negotiations with First Student, Inc. in Cincinnati to provide transportation services for the district’s students.
Last month, district officials said they would look into whether to outsource busing as a way to save the district up to $1.4 million next year.
If the district and First Student agree , the board would have to take another vote, Reiff said.
Paula Yablonski, president of the Vandalia-Butler Education Association, said she is disappointed with the board’s decision to look into outsourcing the busing services.
“There are quite a few of our drivers who are not comfortable working for a private company and unfortunately, will probably be leaving our district,” she said.
Neavin said that if the district enters an agreement with First Student, the district would pursue “priority for hiring local drivers.”
“Our drivers will get priority, but I am not exactly sure what priority means yet,” Yablonski said.