By BOB GAETJENS, Record-Courier Reporter. Posted with permission.
Out of four discussed school levy millages, two appear to be out of the running in Streetsboro where a 7.5-mill operating levy failed in November and the School Board is considering what size tax increase to seek in May.
The Streetsboro Board of Education, with four of five members in attendance on Wednesday, delayed a vote until its Jan. 10 meeting deciding the millage of a levy it intends to place on the ballot in May. The regular meeting on Jan. 10 follows a 6:30 p.m. organizational meeting, which Superintendent Michael Daulbaugh said should take about 15 minutes.
Daulbaugh asked the board to set the millage and pass a resolution of necessity, the first of two legislative steps in placing a levy on the ballot, at the meeting, which took place at Henry Defer Intermediate School.
“We need to decide on a millage,” he said. “We are prepared to have you make a decision tonight.” The deadline for placing an issue on the May ballot is Feb. 6.
He said if no levy is passed in May, the district would need to cut between $2.6 million and $3 million from the budget, in addition to the $192,000 in cuts already planned for this school year.
After the four members were unable to settle on a millage, school board Member Denise Baba suggested waiting until Jan. 10 to set the millage in hopes the board has more information about what could be cut and also has the input of school board member John Kelly, who was not able to attend Wednesday’s meeting.
Daulbaugh and Treasurer C.J. Scarcipino outlined for board members the basic information about four different size levies, including how much money would need to be cut from the budget in each scenario.
School board president Brian Violi suggested throwing out the lowest and highest levy options, 7.5 and 10 mills, respectively, as possibilities.
“I certainly couldn’t support going that low,” he said of the 7.5 mills. “I don’t think we can ask for 10, either.”
The large levy is just too big a risk to take on, he added.
“If we lose in May, this district is going to be completely different than you see it now,” he said. “That is a crapshoot. That is a chance I’m not willing to take.”
School board Member Andrew Gibson said he wanted to try to pass the largest, a 10-mill levy that would have meant no cuts other than $192,000 between now and the end of the school year that would not affect classroom learning. Under such a scenario, he said, the district would need to work hard to improve in several areas but would be able to say no further cuts would be necessary.
Gibson said he would agree to seek a 9-mill levy but doesn’t want to go lower.
“It’s risky going for it all,” he acknowledged. “But it’s also risky saying, ‘Please vote for this,’ and then having someone not get what they want to do.”
A 10-mill levy would raise about $4.9 million annually and cost $350 per $100,000 of assessed property value, according to Daulbaugh.
School board Member Kevin Grimm said people had told him a 10-mill levy would be more than they could afford.
“I would be comfortable with 8.5 mills,” he said. “I’ve heard people say directly to me 8.5 is as high as they could go. I don’t want our supporters to turn around and say, ‘I support our schools, but I can’t support the levy.’”
Passing an 8.5-mill operating levy would raise $4.1 million annually and require the district to cut $900,000 from the budget annually for five years, according to Daulbaugh. It would cost property owners $297.50 per $100,000 in assessed property value.
Passage of a 9-mill levy would raise $4.4 million annually and require $330,000 in annual budget cuts for five years, according to Daulbaugh. It would cost $330 per $100,000 of assessed property value.
A 7.5-mill levy would generate $3.6 million a year and cost $262.50 per $100,000 of assessed property value. Daulbaugh also shared the necessary cuts for a 7.5-mill levy, which was the size voters rejected in November. If that size levy is passed in May, he said the district would still need to cut $192,000 between now and June 30, which the district will enact, but also also have to cut $1.3 million from the budget every year for five years. The reason for that is the district lost half a year of collections by voters rejecting the issue in November.
The district is cutting about $192,000 between Jan. 4 and June 30 this school year, as well, according to Daulbaugh. Those cuts include:
- ‒ Discontinuing field trips and extracurricular trips other than for sporting events. Daulbaugh said that should save about $9,000.
- ‒ Leaving open the transportation supervisor position, a mechanic position and tutor position, realizing a savings of about $108,000.
- ‒ Eliminating all professional development during the school day that’s not grant funded. This would create a savings of $53,610 for the training of certified staff and about $2,235 for classified staff.
- ‒ Establishing a quota on paper usage, which currently is budgeted at about $200,000 a year. The quota system should realize a savings of about $20,000, according to Daulbaugh.