Northmont schools moves to close elementary, cut staff after levy failure

Northmont City Schools board of education unanimously voted Monday to close Englewood Elementary after this school year and cut nine teaching positions, a week after voters turned down an operating levy request by the district.

Northmont superintendent Tony Thomas said the district has received 17 resignations after the district announced cuts. Three people are planning to retire.

Up to 30 full-time positions could be cut, Thomas said.

The district is facing a $14 million deficit in just a few years, noted school board president Linda Blum. Schools can face state takeover if they do not meet specific financial requirements, including a specific amount of cash on hand.

“I think I speak for my colleagues - it pains us to even be here, having to do this,” Blum said.

Blum said she was hopeful before the 7.82-mill property tax levy in the May 2 election failed that Englewood Elementary could stay open another year, as families and staff wanted it to.

Unofficial results from the Montgomery County Board of Elections showed 42% of Northmont voters voted yes on the issue and 58% voted no.

The ballot issue would have raised $5.8 million annually for the school district if passed. The district cited deficit spending as the reason for needing the levy.

Northmont schools operated $1.6 million in the red for 2021-22, pushing its 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.

Closing Englewood Elementary and sending the students there to other schools could save the district a projected $1 million.

“With the levy defeat as it was, there’s no way that I personally, in good faith, can leave that projected million dollars on the table,” Blum said.

The Northmont district has eight schools, including four elementaries and one early learning center.

Around 50 people from the community attended Monday’s meeting, a crowd for school board meetings, which usually attract just a handful of people.

Josh Parry, a community member, said he and other members of the community were irritated and frustrated. He said he believed the closure could have been avoided and said his family had struggled with bullying at other schools, but Englewood Elementary had been safe.

“What do we do now?” Parry said. “It’s unacceptable.”

The next school board meeting is at 6 p.m. Monday at Northmoor Elementary.

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