New levy anticipated in Springboro schools

Voters rejected five consecutive tries for more money

Officials in the Springboro school district anticipate going to voters – who have rejected five consecutive levies for new money – for additional taxes over the next two years.

While awaiting final word on the state budget, Superintendent Todd Petrey said a levy for new money would probably be needed - in 2016 or 2017.

“Right now we’re not sure. We are waiting to see the state budget,” Petrey said Friday.

Springboro schools would get a state funding increase the next two years under all three proposed budget plans – a combined 8 percent increase over 2014-15 in Gov. John Kasich’s proposal, 11.5 percent in the House proposal and 13 percent in the Senate proposal.

But some school officials have argued that the short-term increases hide a longer-term erosion of funding, if the state legislature sticks with those formulas for multiple years.

The Senate is expected to vote on its version of the budget on Wednesday, leaving the House and Senate two weeks after that to work out a compromise by June 30.

Petrey, Treasurer Terrah Floyd and the board debated whether an additional levy might be needed as soon as May or November 2016 in a series of emails sent on the eve of the June 4 vote on raises for teachers and classified staff.

Over three years, the contracts, including 2 percent raises in the first two years and 3 percent in 2018, are projected to cost the district $80 to $100 million – about $3 million more than previous contracts for teachers and classified staff. With Board Member David Petroni absent, Board Member Jim Rigano cast the only vote against the teacher raises. Rigano joined the rest of the board in approving the classified raises.

Voters in the Springboro district have rejected the past five ballot issues for new operating money, but approved a renewal levy in 2013. However the board rolled back the millage, reducing annual revenues by $1.3 million a year.

Rigano, Petroni and Kelly Kohls comprised the board majority at the time. Rigano and Petroni are now in the minority on fiscal issues.

Petrey pointed to the rollback as one reason the district would be needing more operating money in coming years. But Rigano said the additional levy would be needed if the board continued “all the spending” done in the past two years, eroding a cash balance of as much as $11 million.

In July, Floyd is expected to present a new five-year forecast, including the raises, providing details on when a new levy will be needed to fund the operating budget.

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