Beavercreek district plans 30 layoffs, extensive cuts

Arts, tech, AP courses to take big hit in wake of third levy failure.

BEAVERCREEK — The Beavercreek City School District plans to eliminate more than 50 full- and part-time jobs and cut academic courses across the district following a third-straight levy defeat.

About 30 of the job cuts will come through layoffs and the rest through attrition, said Beavercreek Superintendent Nick Verhoff.

Verhoff said each grade level at all eight schools in the district of more than 7,500 students will be affected next school year by these changes, which primarily target art and music education, library services and physical education.

Some Advanced Placement classes will also be eliminated.

“This is the new reality we face as a school district,” Verhoff said. “The 9.9-mill levy (that failed in May 2011) was to keep everything we had. Residents didn’t want to pass that.”

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The third largest district in the Dayton area and the largest in Greene County, Beavercreek has been ranked “Excellent” or “Excellent with Distinction” for the past 11 years, and its most recent performance index is among the top in the area at 105.3.

These newest cuts are expected to save the district more than $2 million, which is on top of $13 million in budget cuts made in the previous 15 months.

The total expenditures for the district were $75.9 million for fiscal year 2011, according to last year’s five-year forecast. For fiscal year 2012, total expenditures are projected to be $73.8 million.

Verhoff said even after reductions in busing, positions and wages, the district is still operating in deficit spending. At the end of the 2010-11 school year, the district’s deficit was $5.7 million. The district’s cash reserve is expected to be at $17 million after this school year and is projected to shrink to $8.7 million after the 2012-13 year.

The deficit at the end of this year will be ascertained when the five-year forecast is released in May.

The savings expected from these latest reductions won’t prevent a new levy from being placed on the ballot.

“We can’t cut our way out of this,” said Verhoff, noting the school board is considering a levy in November. “It’s been nine years since our last voted tax increase for operational dollars.”

These cuts will save money but also may come at a cost. Some Beavercreek parents have said that, even though they understand that state budget cuts are behind local funding issues, it makes them question whether they should remain in the district.

“My wife and I have already discussed the possibility of moving out of Beavercreek if this new levy doesn’t pass, because the schools are just going so far downhill,” parent Michael Togliatti said. “We’ll take (our kids) to Centerville or somewhere where they can get a proper education.”

Anna Riley, a retired Beavercreek resident who was against the March levy, said she does not think cutting student programs or trying to pass a large levy is the route the district should take.

“The school tries to cut out bus service and all the things that will irritate the mothers and are most likely to get the levy to pass,” Riley said. “I think they should cut the levy (millage) in half and then cut the teachers’ pay.”

Beavercreek has had to make staff and academic cuts before.

Dennis Morrison, Fairborn City Schools’ curriculum director, was Beavercreek’s superintendent from 2002-09 when those cuts were made.

“Right before I came, I know that the board had borrowed some money and when I came in we had to make some reductions,” Morrison said. “Basically, we were fortunate enough to get an operational levy passed, pay off the money borrowed and get a little bit ahead.”

Morrison said that he knows Beavercreek to be a community that supports its schools, and he hopes residents can weather these economic times and be able to step up again for the students.

“The reality is, anytime you make a reduction, you are impacting young people,” he said. “You can cut for a while and everybody can work a little harder, but you cannot continue to do that and maintain the same quality of education.”

Next year, the elementary school students will have their art, music and physical education cut in half; the middle-schoolers will lose their industrial tech and work and family programs; and the high school will eliminate at least 13 elective courses, including three Advanced Placement classes. The district offered close to 60 electives this school year.

“We were trying to stay away from AP,” Verhoff said, “but we had to look at the numbers of students in these classes as well.”

Another change for next year is the elimination of five librarian positions, leaving one library media specialist, and the hiring of aides to staff each school library.

This is similar to a move made by Centerville City Schools last year, when it went from 13 to two certified librarians.

That district, which is comparable to Beavercreek in size and academic performance, has been cutting costs like the vast majority of school districts across Ohio due to state cuts. Centerville has been trimming via attrition and reductions in force, reducing contracted and purchasing services, and self-funding workers’ compensation and health care.

Superintendent Tom Henderson said his district’s library transition has gone well.

“We’ve had no issues, really, and the kids are going to the library just like they always did and checking out books, doing book reads,” he said.

Michelle Evans, the parent of two Beavercreek elementary students, said the impending cuts are difficult for her whole family.

“I feel sad about it, but my daughter feels more sad than I do,” Evans said. “She just feels hurt and doesn’t understand why (her favorite classes) are being taken away.”

Evans, who said she is considering private school for her kids, said she supports the district and has voted for all of the levies.

“It’s the cuts from the state that have really hit us hard — it’s not that the spending has really gotten out of line,” Evans said. “I don’t think they had any choice.”

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