Doubled pay-to-play fees, more staff cuts part of 2nd Huber schools proposal

Meeting Feb. 2 gives public a chance to offer input; board set to vote Feb. 9; three-piece financial proposal includes May tax levy



HUBER HEIGHTS — Two weeks after introducing a smaller cost-savings proposition, Superintendent Jason Enix on Thursday presented the Huber Heights school board with a $2.4 million budget cut proposal for the 2023-24 school year, which would include additional changes to staffing and operations, as well as the district’s athletic program.

During the Jan. 12 board meeting, Enix proposed an initial $1.7 million cost-savings package as part of a larger effort to improve the district’s financial status, which administrators say is at risk, based on upcoming years’ projected deficits. The plan also includes a large tax levy on the May 2023 ballot.

The additional $2.4 million in cuts presented to the board on Thursday would only come into play if that 8.12-mill levy is rejected, Enix said.

“Think of the $1.7 million (proposal) as tightening the belt, whereas the $2.4 million would be cost savings due to a failed levy,” Enix said after Thursday’s work session.

A special meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 2, at 6 p.m., at 5954 Longford Road, where the school board hopes to hear input from the public. The next regular board meeting will be held Thursday, Feb. 9, at 6 p.m., during which board members will vote to approve or deny both proposed budget cut packages.

The $2.4 million cut proposal that Enix presented involved multiple categories, including ESSER grant funding impacts, staffing, operations, and athletics.

To save a projected $75,000, Enix’s presentation recommended doubling pay-to-play fees for extracurricular activities. This year, the fee to participate in athletics, marching band, Warriorettes, or cheerleading at Wayne High school is $150 per sport/activity, with an annual cap of $250 per individual student and $450 per family. Under the proposed plan, this would rise to $300 per sport/activity, with an individual cap at $600 and a family cap at $900.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

The fee for club participation at Wayne would increase from $25 per club to $50. Under both current and proposed plans, the fee cap does not apply to club participation.

Proposed personnel reductions would include eliminating four administration positions: the dean of students at Wayne High School, saving an estimated $80,000 annually; the assistant principal role at Weisenborn, saving an estimated $122,000; and two assistant principal roles at the elementary level, saving an estimated $300,000 combined.

Due to a resignation last year, the Weisenborn assistant principal role is currently vacant, Enix said. To compensate the loss of two assistant principal positions, the remaining three elementary assistant principals would fill in the gaps at affected schools. One of the two positions is already vacant due to a recent resignation, Enix said.

The plan also includes eliminating two certified and two classified positions, potentially saving $350,000. Generally “certified” school staff can include teachers, counselors and nurses, while “classified” includes bus drivers, clerical workers and custodial staff.

“We’re a fairly large organization that does have staff coming and going on a yearly basis, so we would expect ... to be able to account for some of these cost savings through attrition so that it would not result in individuals losing their positions,” Enix said.

Changes to operational costs as part of the $2.4 million savings proposal would include reallocating permanent improvement funds — money used toward capital improvement projects that last five years or more — for budgeted bus purchases. This would provide $130,000 in savings for the general fund. Cuts to SOAR program transportation and a decrease in the textbook/resource replacement budget would also be included, estimated to save around $20,000 and $150,000 respectively.

The proposal includes a recommendation to reallocate funds from the district’s federal ESSER grant funding for a potential $1.2 million in general fund relief over the next five years, according to Enix.

The district was allocated $16.9 million in ESSER money in 2021, $7 million of which went toward the career technology expansion project at Wayne. Districts are obligated to use ESSER II funds by September 2023, and ESSER III funds by September 2024.

“I want to reemphasize that the grueling nature of trying to find $2.4 million that we don’t have to find ... is as difficult as your can imagine,” Enix said Thursday. “This is a best effort to not have anymore of a detrimental impact on the operations of district, on our staff, students and families, while also meeting the needs of shaving the costs of the district.”

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