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Bellbrook schools to seek levy in November after 2 rejections

Bellbrook High School
Bellbrook High School

Voters in the Bellbrook-Sugarcreek school district likely will decide on a property tax levy again in November, as the school board took the first of two required votes in favor of the levy last week.

Residents overwhelmingly rejected a levy in May 2019, then voted down another levy request this spring by a much smaller margin.

RELATED: Performance audit examines school finances

The levy the school board aims to put on the November ballot is a 5.7-mill permanent property tax — the same type that voters rejected this spring by a 52.4 to 47.6 ratio.

It would cost the owner of a $100,000 home an extra $199.50 per year.

The school board will meet again, in online fashion, at 7 p.m. Thursday, and the link to watch the meeting will be available on the school website at www.sugarcreek.k12.oh.us. Superintendent Doug Cozad said the second vote required to put the levy on the ballot will be part of Thursday's meeting agenda.

The past two levy campaigns have been combative affairs. Resident John Stafford has led a group opposing the levies, saying taxes are too high, the school district spends too much and teacher salaries should be cut.

RELATED: 2019 levy campaign was bitter, error-laden

Cozad and levy supporters point to two findings of a recent state performance audit. That audit said district salaries are not out of line with Bellbrook’s peer schools, and that the tax burden on Bellbrook-Sugarcreek residents is lower than the state average or the “peer district” average.

Bellbrook schools have gone through multiple rounds of budget cutting as levies have been rejected, and all staff are on a pay freeze for the 2020-21 school year.

The most recent cuts this summer included significant busing reductions, canceling some art, STEM and keyboarding classes, laying off seven employees, increasing pay-to-play fees to $300 per sport and cutting the stipends for 85 assistant coaches and club advisers.

RELATED: Forum gives overload of Bellbrook levy information