BELLBROOK — The Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Local School District could be facing more cuts after voters turned down a general operating levy for the third time.
According to unofficial results from the Greene County Board of Elections, 5,540 residents in the district voted no, while 4,912 voted yes for Issue 21. While there are some absentee and provisional ballots yet to be counted in Greene County, district officials did not feel there were enough to make a difference.
“This outcome is both disappointing and disheartening not only for our families and students but for the entire community,” Superintendent Dr. Doug Cozad said in a release. “When a levy fails, the needs do not go away with that failure rather, they worsen. Due to this levy failure, the district will not collect the approximately $3.3 million next year if it would have passed. We appreciate the work done by so many to help inform voters, especially in these circumstances.”
Had the 5.7-mill levy passed, it would have provided additional funding and financial stability for the district’s operating budget. The school district has already made $4.8 million in reductions since 2018. The district has also seen more than $1 million in budget cuts from the state, about 11 percent of the district’s funding that impacted both last school year and this school year. With this levy failure and the reduced funding from the state, all of the $4.8 reductions will stay in place and the future of “our high-caliber programs and well-rounded student experiences will be in serious jeopardy,” according to Cozad.
According to the release, reducing costs and making reductions will play an increasingly bigger role in decision-making. These cuts and reductions will move the district closer and closer to state minimums regarding electives, programs, class sizes, and busing, Cozad said.
The district has and will continue to operate a lean budget, be financially prudent, and keep expenses to a minimum while looking for ways to seek efficiencies.
“The fiscal reality, however, is that we simply cannot continue to make reductions without seriously impacting the quality of our students’ educational experience and unfortunately, that is where we are right now,” said David Carpenter, board president
Bellbrook’s last operating levy was passed in 2015. The district had placed an operating levy in both May 2019 and March 2020.