Mad River school district seeks tax hike, outlines possible job cuts

RIVERSIDE — Voters in the Mad River Local School District will decide in May whether they want to pay more in property taxes for the schools, or whether they want the district to proceed with budget cuts — including 12 jobs ― that have been outlined if the tax levy fails.

The district’s board of education on Monday night unanimously approved placing a 5.9-mill property tax levy increase on the May 2 ballot, the first additional tax issue in the Riverside school district since March 2012.

Meanwhile, seven classified positions and five certified ones are at stake should the levy be rejected, Mad River records show. All would be full-time positions and about three certified jobs “would probably be teachers,” Mad River Treasurer Jerry Ellender said in an email.

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Job reductions may be made through not backfilling retirements, but “the exact positions won’t be determined until we find out what retirements we will have this year,” Ellender said.

The specific number of jobs at stake with a failed levy may also be dependent on future state funding changes, said district Communications Director Jenny Alexander.

The Mad River Education Association was aware the positions would be addressed by the board Monday night, but “no specifics were discussed” with the union, Ellender said.

Attempts to reach teachers union leadership on Tuesday were unsuccessful.

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Levy passage would increase costs for the owner of a home valued at $100,000 by $207.50 annually to fund school district operations, according to the proposed ballot language.

Ellender has projected “significant” increasing deficits in future years, starting in 2023-24. The additional tax levy would raise about $1.5 million a year if approved, Ellender has said.

The cuts proposed in case the levy fails are estimated at about $1.48 million, more than $925,000 of which would involve job salaries and benefits, according to Mad River documents.

They would also include a two-year hold of some equipment purchases, including student computers and a bus.

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Mad River has about $10.4 million in federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Funds budgeted for this and next school year, but none in future forecasts, Ellender said.

With voter approval of the tax increase, “I wouldn’t say that there wouldn’t be any cuts. But there will have to be more cuts if we don’t pass a levy,” he said earlier.

The district is projecting about $2.3 million in deficits for the 2023-24 school year with that number rising annually to about $7 million by 2026-27, Ellender said.

The deadline to file for tax issues for the May election is Feb. 1.

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