Northmont and Mad River were among the schools asking for large tax increases on Tuesday. Two other districts in the same position, Vandalia-Butler and Huber Heights, also had voters turn down levies.
School districts are currently approaching the end of COVID-19 federal funds, which have to be spent or committed via contract by September 2024. Several schools said they would have needed to put a levy on the ballot earlier if it weren’t for the federal dollars.
Rising costs, both for staff and for general items like electricity and supplies, have also impacted schools’ bottom line.
Northmont school district residents voted down a 7.82-mill property tax levy in the May 2 election — an issue that would have raised $5.8 million annually for the school district if passed and would have cost homeowners about $274 per $100,000 in property value.
Unofficial results showed 42% of Northmont voters voted yes on the issue and 58% voted no.
Spokeswoman Jenny Wood said the Northmont school board will meet Monday and May 15 to discuss cuts and possibly putting another levy on the ballot.
Northmont is expected to cut building budgets by an additional 3%, according to a presentation by superintendent Tony Thomas at a March 13 school board meeting. Cuts would also include 29 staff positions, including teachers and administrators, and school-sponsored field trips. Fees for sports and extracurriculars and apps on school devices would double.
The board would also consider closing Englewood Elementary earlier than anticipated, after the school board delayed the decision earlier this year due to community pushback.
Northmont schools operated $1.6 million in the red for 2021-22, pushing their cash balance down to $28 million, or roughly 45% of a year’s expenses, according to their most recent financial forecast, in November. That balance was still above average in Ohio. But Northmont was projecting a significant spending increase in 2022-23 — $7.3 million more than they projected to take in.
Mad River levy
Mad River schools residents voted down a 5.9-mill operating levy that would have raised $1.5 million per year.
About 55% of voters in the district voted no.
Chad Wyen, superintendent for Mad River, said the district plans to put the same levy, with the same millage, on the November ballot. He said the levy would maintain existing programs.
Wyen said the district plans to cut five classified staff (secretaries, bus drivers, custodians, aides) and five certified staff (teachers, counselors, etc.). Total cuts are about $1.48 million, of which $925,095 would be made up by staff cuts.
Even without the levy failing, Mad River was planning for cuts, Mad River said. Wyen said $250,507 in cuts have been made already for next school year, and more will be made based on the cost savings plan the Board of Education approved earlier this year.
“If they levy does not pass in November, then additional reductions will be made, which will have an adverse impact on the educational experience we can provide our students,” Wyen said.
The last time Mad River passed a levy was March 2012.
Reporter Nick Blizzard contributed to this story.