Tipp City schools lay off 12 educators, but still project deficit spending

Tipp City’s Board of Education unanimously approved the layoff of 11 teachers and a school counselor this week, citing financial constraints.

The school board has been discussing a reduction in force of unionized teachers for a few months. Initially, the board talked about eliminating 18 teaching positions.

The 11 teaching positions approved for cuts include a mix of subject areas and grade levels — two kindergarten, one third-grade, three English or English language arts, and one each of music, drama, science/math, biology and an intervention specialist.

“The district reviewed staffing and class sizes to find efficiencies and right-size the district,” said Tipp City Superintendent Aaron Moran. “The administration team carefully considered students’ needs and academic options before making recommendations.”

Last month, Tipp City’s school board eliminated its HR director job and four others — two administrative assistants, a custodian and an accounts payable specialist.

According to Tipp City’s five-year financial forecast submitted this spring, the district has been operating in the red for years (a combined deficit of about $2 million over the past three years). But that deficit ballooned to a currently projected $2.3 million for the 2023-24 school year alone, with multimillion-dollar deficits projected in future years as well. The district projects it will end this school year with about $10 million in the bank.

School district officials previously said that while the reductions in spending are needed, even with the cuts, Tipp City schools will remain at some level of deficit spending.

Operating costs vs. building costs

Tipp City voters passed an 8.68-mill, 30-year school construction bond levy in March that will generate about $87 million to build a new preschool through eighth grade building. Under Ohio law, taxes earmarked for a specific purpose such as that can’t be shifted to cover daily operating expenses.

That bond issue will cost a homeowner $304 per $100,000 in property value, and collection will begin in 2025.

“Deteriorating educational facilities needed to be addressed,” Moran said. “This was at least the third effort to try and pass a building bond levy. With the passing of a long-term facilities plan, the district will increase efficiencies, provide a 21st-century learning environment for students and staff, and improve safety and security.”

Moran said district officials talked about the condition of the buildings alongside the state of school finances while levy discussions were ongoing.

“Right-sizing the district to prioritize student opportunities and academic improvements is part of the plan to make Tipp City the best place for students,” Moran said. “We have work to do, and being financially sound will allow the district to meet the needs of students now and into the future.”

As part of the cuts to the district’s budget, Nevin Coppock Elementary is now closed, but not all teachers laid off are elementary school teachers. The district said that class sizes will not increase “substantially” next year and that Nevin Coppock Elementary teachers were reassigned to various schools.

School board member Richard Mains called on the state and federal government to better fund public schools.

“Unfortunately, many school districts are in the same position,” Mains said. “Unless our state legislators change the funding formula I believe we will all be hurting. I wish our federal government would help all of our state school districts throughout our country.”

This report contains information from contributing writer Nancy Bowman.

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