Superintendent Doug Cozad said this fall that the district has made a variety of budget cuts the past few years, most recently teacher layoffs, elimination of some art and STEM classes, busing reductions and a complete pay freeze for 2020-21. He said if this new levy is rejected, it would be “a huge deal.”
“It really shifts all of our decision-making so that financial issues become the clear primary (factor) more so than what’s educationally best for our students,” Cozad said.
For the third time in two years, Sugarcreek Twp. resident John Stafford led vocal opposition to Bellbrook’s levy request. He argued that the only way the state will address unconstitutional school funding is if property owners say enough is enough and vote no on levies. He said the schools could pay teachers significantly less than they do.
“Bellbrook-Sugarcreek can’t afford to spend money that we don’t have,” Stafford said. “Superintendent Cozad and the school board like to use the surrounding districts and their bad financial decisions to justify our community making a bad decision. It’s like a race to the bottom; let’s see who can spend more.”
Cozad points to the state’s performance audit, which says the the tax burden on Bellbrook-Sugarcreek residents is lower than the state average and lower than peer school districts. He said calls for significant salary cuts are “disrespectful” to dedicated teachers.
“There’s nothing more that I would like than for this community to come back together and get past this, and get on to educational topics,” Cozad said. “We’re going to be fiscally responsible.”