Posted: 1:32 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013

Kettering schools to seek tax levy in May

By Terry Morris


The Kettering City School District will seek an additional 5.9-mill property tax levy on the May 7 ballot.

The board of education for the 7,400-student district voted 5-0 Tuesday to ask voters to approve the five-year measure, which treasurer Steve Clark said would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $180 in additional taxes per year.

Sam Braun, finance manager for the Montgomery County Auditor, said based on the district’s $1.27-billion total property valuation, the levy would produce $7.1 million a year.

Superintendent James Schoenlein said Kettering schools have maintained and even improved quality despite cutting $10 million from the budget over six years, reducing the work force by 10 percent and negotiating a three-year pay freeze with employees that continues through 2014.

The district’s five-year forecast, filed with the state board of education for fiscal year 2013, shows Kettering Schools’ total spending remained virtually flat from 2010 through 2012. An almost $3 million increase is projected by 2014.

“We are not currently projecting cuts, but we’ll have to go back to cutting millions more without this. A 5.9-mill levy is the rock bottom we can ask for without putting the district at risk,” he said.

If voters reject the measure in May, “we’ll take one more shot at it in November.”

Rated “Excellent with Distinction” by the state in 2012, the district has also been honored as a top 10 “Student-Learning Growth” district and is on the College Board’s Advanced Placement Honor Roll.

“We couldn’t have a better story to tell our community. We’ll have to see that it will that carry the day,” Schoenlein said.

Clark said the schools’ general fund budget is about $82 million. “Our carryover fund is currently about $9 million. We’ve managed to live within our means by coming in under budget the last few years.”

Kettering voters, and some who live in Moraine who are served by the district, approved a 6.9-mill school levy in 2004 and a 4.9-mill measure in 2007. They rejected a 6.9-mill levy in May 2010 by 650 votes, but approved 4.9 additional mills in November 2010 by 53 to 47 percent of the vote.

“We told the voters then we would have to come back to them in 2013. We were able to manage almost $6 million in state cuts and property tax losses in 2011 without having to come back to them early,” said Schoenlein, who is in his third year as superintendent.

School officials are worried the state will order more cuts in funding to local schools when Gov. John Kasich’s new school funding plan is unveiled today.


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