Beavercreek City Schools operating levy on ballot

Busing reinstated, but not reduced pay-to-play fees, with passage.

Beavercreek City Schools has a 6.7-mill emergency operating levy on the Nov. 6 ballot, and it would raise about $10.9 million annually for the district.

District officials said they are requesting this levy to pay for the operations of its two new school buildings, to compensate for a nearly 30 percent loss in state funding between fiscal years 2011 and 2012, and to provide funds for the district’s ongoing operations.

For some families, however, the roughly $205 per $100,000 of appraised property value that the levy would cost each year may prove to be too much.

“All I know is, I’m paying all this money and my kid doesn’t have a bus,” said parent Julie Jackson, who estimated this levy would cost her family $584 annually. “We’re definitely not getting raises that are meeting up with all these increases — not just from the district but from the whole economy. I don’t feel that I can vote for this levy again.”

Others said they support the levy because the district is producing excellent academic results.

“I think they’re already making cuts that are affecting the education of our children, and it concerns me,” said parent Tiffany Page, who said she moved to Beavercreek for the schools. “Education is the key to everything, and I feel our schools are doing everything they can to touch the classroom last.”

LEVIES, CUTS

Since May 2003, Beavercreek has had 14 levies on the ballot — five renewals that passed; three attempts at a bond issue, which passed in November 2008; and six attempts at new-money levies, including the one on November’s ballot.

In the last 18 months and amid three failed levy attempts, the district has made multiple cuts to personnel, programs and services — including eliminating more than 60 positions, cutting multiple academic electives and halving its elementary art, music and physical education classes.

Also, in January, the district eliminated busing for high-schoolers and reduced it for middle-school students.

Beavercreek Superintendent Bill McGlothlin said, if this levy passes, the first things to be reinstated would be busing and intervention reading and math tutors to elementary and middle-school students. The following year, the district would reinstate gifted services, and art, music and PE at the elementary level.

“It would be less than $20 per month for each of our children to receive art, music, gym — all of those things,” said Page, the mother of three Beavercreek students. “For every family, it’s different; but that’s enough for us.”

McGlothlin said scaling back pay-to-participate fees, which were tripled for 2012-13, may be discussed in the future.

He added that he doesn’t know what further cuts would be made if the levy fails, “but it would be about grinding out more operational dollars.”

Jackson, who has one student in the district, said these fee hikes and busing cuts have had a huge impact on local families struggling to make ends meet. She said that the district should try to meet families halfway.

“Why not do a 3-mill levy? I can do $20 per month, but $50?” she said. “That’s the crux of the matter for everybody. Most people I talk to are in my situation or way worse — and I can’t imagine people on fixed incomes.”

SALARIES, SPENDING

According to the Ohio Department of Education, the average salary for a Beavercreek City Schools classroom teacher increased from $53,076 to $64,303 in the last five fiscal years, and the average administrator pay in the district was up from $81,868 to $91,189 in that same time frame.

For fiscal year 2012, the district eliminated roughly 10 percent of its teaching staff, 12 percent of its administrative staff and 8 percent of its support staff. It also cut salaries districtwide by 2 percent and increased the amount employees pay in benefits.

In 2010-11, Beavercreek paid 90 percent of employees’ benefits and employees paid 10 percent. In 2012-13, that split was 85/15.

“We want the best teachers that we can possibly get, and retain those teachers,” McGlothlin said. “We had 21 retirements last year, and replaced eight. We’re looking at reduction through attrition, and scrutinizing every hire.”

He added that Beavercreek, like Oakwood and Centerville, is an area that tends to generate a higher salary. For 2011, Beavercreek paid teachers slightly more than Centerville ($63,532), on average, but less than Oakwood ($69,119). It paid its administrators much more than Centerville ($77,614), on average, but less than Oakwood ($97,832).

According to the latest U.S. Census Bureau statistics, the average Beavercreek household income was $89,430 for 2010.

ACADEMIC SUCCESS

Beavercreek City Schools has earned at least an “Excellent” rating on the Ohio Report Card for the last 12 years. In data released today,the district was rated “Excellent” for the 2011-12 school year. This is a step down from the “Excellent with Distinction” the district earned for 2010-11.

“We’re not satisfied (with that rating),” McGlothlin said. “But we can’t maintain current programming if it exceeds the funds we have coming in.”

McGlothlin said he understands the economic plight of local residents, but said 6.7 mills are needed to maintain the district and to keep the community strong.

He also noted there will be additional costs in implementing the state-mandated Common Core State Standards, third-grade reading guarantee and teacher evaluations in the next few years.

The district spent $75.9 million in 2011, according to its five-year forecast filed with the ODE, and expected to pay $72.6 million in 2012 and $70.3 million in 2013. Its total revenue was listed at roughly $5 million below each of those figures for those three years.

“It’s like spending out of your savings account,” he said of deficit spending. “It’s not sustainable.”

Jackson agreed the district is academically sound, and is supported by the community.

“Ninety percent of the time, if you talk to people, it’s not that they don’t want to pay for (this levy), but it’s that we can’t comfortably afford it,” she said.

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