If Beavercreek’s school board approves Superintendent Paul Otten’s recommendations Thursday, almost three dozen teacher and staff positions would be eliminated this fall, many elective classes would go away, pay-to-participate fees would rise, and the length of the school day would change.
Otten presented the recommendations last month after Beavercreek voters rejected a 6.2-mill tax levy in November. The district has put a 6.15-mill levy on the ballot for May 7, but any cuts approved this week would stay in place for 2019-20 even if the levy passes. That’s because student scheduling decisions for 2019-20 are made long before mid-May, and a May levy passage would not generate new revenue until 2020.
The school board meeting is at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at 3040 Kemp Road.
“The recommendations stemmed directly from our stated goals,” district spokesman Ryan Gilding said, referring to Beavercreek’s four-point reduction plan to minimize impact on learning, prioritize safety, ensure fiscal responsibility and provide diverse course offerings. “Community feedback has been varied. Some community members have voiced disappointment, while others are thankful for our efforts to avoid future deficits.”
In Otten’s presentation last month, he cited Beavercreek’s five-year financial forecast, which projects the district going below its preferred $12 million reserve in early 2020, then running out of money in early 2021. The schools’ annual budget is around $90 million.
These proposed cuts would save an estimated $2.7 million per year, which would push the financial trouble back by a matter of months, according to the district. Passing the levy would raise more than $11 million per year, keeping the district financially solid for multiple years.
Levies have been a contentious issue in Beavercreek, which is one of a handful of Ohio cities without an income tax. The community has many ardent school supporters, but school levies have been rejected there more often than in many other affluent communities.
“You have to be very cognizant of the way each side feels,” school board President Jo Ann Rigano said. “I think the most important thing is educating the community so they understand what we’re asking them to support. … But it’s tough; I’m not going to say it isn’t.”
Otten’s plan would raise pay-to-participate fees for sports and other activities from $150 per high school activity to $250, with the family maximum rising from $450 to $750. The district would also eliminate 12-15 bus routes by changing school start and end times. District officials estimated that student bus ride times would be 30-35 minutes.
The proposed staff cuts reach across all departments. Administration would lose one assistant principal, a curriculum supervisor and a buildings/transportation supervisor. Support staff would lose nine busing employees, three teacher’s assistants and three others. School academic areas would lose 15.5 teachers and the district’s library specialist.
Those 15.5 teacher cuts would come at the older grade levels. At the middle schools, Otten proposed cutting 6.5 teaching positions across art, foreign languages, health and physical education. In grades 9-12, the proposed cuts include core academic subjects — social studies, English, math and science, as well as art, health and phys ed.
Longtime Beavercreek resident Mary Ann Reese, a retired librarian, bristled at the proposed library cut.
“More than ever, it’s critical that we teach students good information literacy skills,” Reese said, pointing to misinformation on television and elsewhere. “The problem today is not finding information, as it was when I started. The problem is distinguishing what is good, valid information and what is not. That skill needs to be taught.”
Otten told residents last month that if the May levy is rejected, the district will make even more cuts for this fall. That would include eliminating the family maximum for pay-to-play fees, eliminating high school busing, only busing K-8 students who live at least two miles from school, and cutting certain technology and academic programs.