Last fall’s defeat of an income tax hike for Ross Schools has raised the stakes for May’s tax issue vote, school officials said.
If the district’s proposed 0.5 percent earned income tax is rejected again by voters, the Butler County school system would face deep budget cuts in busing, teaching personnel, security officers and sharp jumps in athletic fees up to $600 per player, school officials said.
Issue One on the Tuesday ballot will be a pivotal point for one of the region’s most consistent, high academic performers, according to annual report cards done by the Ohio Department of Education, said Ross Superintendent Scott Gates.
According to the most recent state report card, Ross schools were among the half of all Butler County schools to receive a “B” for the 2017-2018 school year. No Butler County schools earned an “A.”
A largely bedroom, rural community with relatively smaller business tax revenue, Ross is one of the few districts in the region to use earned income tax to fund its school system.
The proposed 0.5 percent earned income tax hike would be on top of an existing 0.75 percent income tax that has helped fund Ross Schools for years. The new tax would generate $2 million annually for the district.
“I have observed the commitment and investment this community puts into the Ross Schools and the funds from Issue One will allow us to continue to provide the quality education our community expects for our children,” Gates said.
“The Ross school district continues its trajectory in a positive and successful direction. Funds from Issue One will allow us to continue in that trajectory,” he said.
To date there is no public opposition to the tax levy issue but that was also the case in November when voters defeated the same 0.5 earned income tax increase by a 53 to 47 percent margin.
School officials warn a defeat of the tax hike would lead to elimination of all high school busing and reductions in transportation services for all other grades. Also impacted would be parochial school students who are provided public school buses.
Moreover, they said participation fees for athletics and other extra-curricular activities could increase by as much as 300 percent.
“Our current athletic participation fee of $150, per student, per sport, could balloon to as much as $600 per student, per sport. The same would be true for other extracurriculars such as band and show choir,” said Gates.
“I’m excited for May 7 as I believe the results for Issue One will paint a powerful picture of the relationship between Ross Schools and the entire Ross community,” said Gates.
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