Huber schools could restore $1.6M in instructional programs

The programs would be restored next school year if additional revenue is collected.

Superintendent Sue Gunnell will lead a discussion at tonight’s school board meeting about restoring the programs. School officials also will listen to feedback from parents, community members and teachers about what to restore across the entire district.

Huber Heights wants to put back “programs that help prepare students academically and also provide opportunities for a well-rounded education,” Gunnell said. “Choir, physical education — those are important to keep in mind, and safety and security.”

Because of financial pressures, the district implemented a four-tier reduction plan in 2011. The final tier of $6.4 million in cuts were approved in January. January’s cuts included the elimination of 108.5 positions and an increase in pay-to-participate fees.

The majority of the $1.6 million costs would be used to bring back teachers and support staff to lead instructional programs, such as those that help prepare students for online assessments, Gunnell said.

“We’d like to be able to say every program we’ve reduced in the last three years, but we know we can’t do that,” she said. “The focus is very much on instruction and supporting students across all levels.”

According to preliminary data released Feb. 6, Huber Heights could get an additional $3.8 million from the state for fiscal year 2014 and $1 million more for 2015. But final funding allocations will not be known until the Ohio Legislature weighs Gov. John Kasich’s plan and approves a state budget, likely in late June.

Earlier this month, the school board unanimously voted to pull a 9.95-mill levy off the May 7 ballot because of a potential increase in state funding.

The school board will vote Thursday on the first reading of a resolution to place a 5.95-mill operating levy on the Aug. 6 ballot. That resolution — a resolution of necessity — will be filed with the county auditor, Treasurer Ann Bernardo said. A second resolution to proceed will be presented at the April 22 board meeting and filed with the board of elections.

The deadline to file for the August ballot is May 8, Bernardo said.

A 5.95-mill levy in August would generate nearly $4 million annually and cost an owner of a $100,000 home an additional $15.18 a month.

“We want to make sure the focus is on bringing back stuff that is curriculum-related,” Bernardo said. “We’ve made some deep cuts to our programs, and it is affecting our kids and what they are allowed to take and can’t take. We want to be able to help our kids and make sure they have a good, well-rounded education.”

Huber Heights has not passed an operating levy since 2005. Voters have defeated three straight requests for new operating funds — the most recent an 8-mill levy in November.

By placing a levy on the August ballot, it gives the district another opportunity in November if it fails, Gunnell has said.

The district has an enrollment of 6,300 students and a budget of $64.7 million.