Bellbrook voters deciding on school levy


By Scott Halasz - shalasz@shalasz@aimmediamidwest.com



BELLBROOK — Voters in the Bellbrook-Sugarcreek school district are being asked to pass an emergency operating levy during the May 4 special election.

If approved, the levy will raise $3.22 million annually (4.9 mills). The passage of the levy will help fund the district’s day-to-day operations, such as staffing, utilities, transportation, and supplies.

Since 2018 the board of education has implemented four phases of reductions totaling more than $4.8 million and a reduction of more than 11 percent of district staff.

The budget reductions came after a state performance audit, which recommended $11.5 million in cuts. The district’s five-year forecast in May 2019 projected a $1.5 million deficit in the 2020-21 school year, which along with the levy failure in May 2019, triggered the audit, according to district officials.

The district made more than $2.3 million in budget reductions between summer 2018 and Phase I and II reductions in 2019, including the reduction of 20 staff positions, half of which were teaching positions, in addition to a pay freeze for all employees in the 2020-21 school year.

If it passes, the district will reinstate the K-5 STEM program, 31 supplemental positions for clubs/activities/athletics, and two librarian positions within the district, according to district officials.

If the May levy does not pass, the district will reduce up to three K-12 staffing positions and will continue to look for other cost-saving measures including potential keeping open positions unfilled. A 5.7-mil operating levy failed in March forcing nearly $2.5 million in cuts the next two years including eliminating busing for the high school, K-5 STEM, and 85 supplemental contracts and/or athletic positions.

“It will be increasingly difficult to be able to fill open positions, making it challenging to keep class sizes down and/or continue all of the same course offerings for our students,” according to a statement in the district’s latest newsletter.

By Scott Halasz

shalasz@shalasz@aimmediamidwest.com

Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.

Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.