UPDATE (11:30 p.m.)
Voters approved Kettering City Schools’ permanent 5.99-mill additional tax levy by a solid 55-45 ratio, according to unofficial results from the Montgomery and Greene County boards of election.
Superintendent Scott Inskeep was still hard at work at 11:15 p.m., attaching thank you stickers to levy signs near Indian Riffle school. He said levy passage means the district will launch all-day everyday kindergarten in fall 2019 and will expand career tech programs at Fairmont High School in fall 2020.
“For the kids, this means continued excellence and improvement in very strategic areas,” Inskeep said. “For our community, we want to tell them that we will be good stewards of this vote and make that money work for kids, to improve student achievement and create safe environments.”
This vote comes on the heels of a 2016 school levy where Kettering voters approved significant facilities money for the district for years to come.
Voters are deciding today on a new, permanent 5.99-mill Kettering City Schools tax levy request that was placed before voters a year earlier than the district had first planned.
School officials said the levy is needed because of increased costs in several areas, plus a desire to expand career-tech education, increase security, and add all-day kindergarten for the first time.
The levy would pay for day-to-day operating expenses. It would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $209 annually and would raise $7.5 million per year for a district with a $94 million annual budget.
In a 2016 mailer touting Kettering schools’ “fiscally conservative approach,” district officials said if voters approved that year’s permanent, 3.4-mill facilities levy, it would “keep the Kettering City Schools off the ballot for new money until at least 2019.” Treasurer Dan Schall said the district is back on the ballot a year earlier because of increasing costs in special education, health and mental health, as well as the proposed program expansions.
“Those costs, along with the normal cost of doing business, are driving our numbers up faster than what we would have hoped,” Schall said. “So this (levy) request now helps us address those needs quicker, better and more cost effectively than if we waited.”
The current levy is larger than the 4.9-mill operating levies Kettering voters approved in 2007, 2010 and 2013. The 2016 levy was for non-personnel issues such as computers, athletic fields, roofs and a multimillion-dollar high school auditorium. This ballot issue would fund personnel, which is the largest expense for almost all school districts.
Superintendent Scott Inskeep said Kettering has been able to hire better teachers than some districts, in part because of solid pay. Kettering has remained stable on state test performance, ranking 12th of 44 local districts each of the past three years, and earning a “B” in student growth each year.
“I believe our community will give us the district they want us to have, and they’ll do the very best they can. It’s tough. I wish we weren’t out having to do this, but because we’re reliant on property tax, that’s the nature of the business.”
Inskeep said if voters reject the levy, the district would make some cuts in personnel and programming next summer, and would seek a levy in 2019.
“It’s not a threat, it’s just inevitable that (cuts) are what will happen,” he said.