ELECTION 2023: Vandalia-Butler asks for additional $2.8 million for operations

School district has been deficit spending; says they no longer anticipate running out of funds.

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

The Vandalia-Butler school district is asking voters for an additional $2.8 million per year, via 4 mills of property tax, to avoid an operating deficit. The levy would cost a property owner $140 annually per $100,000 in property values.

Vandalia-Butler sought a full 1% earned income tax ($500 annually on $50,000 of qualifying income) last spring, but voters declined to pass it. It would have generated about $6.4 million per year for the schools.

With that levy failing, the district imposed cuts: seven teaching positions absorbed and not replaced from retirements and resignations, 10 teaching assistant positions absorbed and not replaced from retirements and resignations, an administrative reduction from retirement, technology department brought in-house a year earlier than anticipated (was previously a contracted service) and a $100,000 reduction in supplemental contracts.

Mary Stephens, a spokeswoman for the Vandalia school district, said with the increase in state funding along with budget reductions implemented after the May 2023 income tax failure, the Board of Education reduced the request for funds.

According to the district’s five-year forecast submitted last spring, Vandalia has been deficit spending since at least the 2019-2020 school year. During this school year, the district anticipated spending roughly $1.5 million more than it brings in. The district anticipated running out of reserves in the 2026-2027 school year, per the May financial forecast.

Vandalia-Butler said Friday the district no longer expects to run out of cash reserves in 2026-2027 because of cuts made by the district for this school year and due to updated school funding formulas at the state level.

The district has said multiple times that Vandalia-Butler is the second lowest funded district in the area in 2021-2022 and the 36th lowest funded district per pupil in the state, according to the Ohio Department of Education’s District Profile Report. Only Beavercreek was lower.

A similar calculation by the Dayton Daily News, combining both state and federal funding per student, showed Vandalia-Butler seventh lowest out of about 45 school districts in the newspaper’s coverage area. That puts a higher tax burden on local property owners to fund the schools.

“VBCSD has had to use reserve funds to maintain operations as expenditures exceed revenues,” Stephens said. “The district is seeking a property tax to help with operating expenses and to sustain fiscally responsible cash reserves.”

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