Fewer teachers, shorter days or new tax proposed in Beavercreek

Fewer teachers, shorter school days and higher pay-to-play fees are what can be expected if Beavercreek voters again reject a proposed tax to support public school operations.

It was a crowded Main Elementary auditorium Thursday night as Superintendent Paul Otten presented his recommendations for budget cuts to the school board, if voters reject a 5-year, 6.15-mill emergency levy that will be on the May 7 ballot.

These are “not easy decisions for our board of education, but to me these are the recommendations that we should look for,” Otten said.

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The proposed cuts would go into effect next school year. Otten proposed cutting 34 positions, including 16 faculty members. To make busing more efficient, Otten proposed shortening the middle and high school days by 15 minutes, while the elementary school day will be increased by 30 minutes.

Lastly, Otten proposed raising pay-to-play fees for sports and other activities from $150 to $200.

The proposed cuts would save the district approximately $2.695 million, including $2.2 million in personnel, Otten said.

“(This is a) very difficult conversation to have, not what any of us had been looking forward to,” he said.

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Voters in November rejected a 6.2-mill tax that would have generated about $11.4 million to cover operating expenses.

The school board has taken action to place a similar proposal on the May 7 ballot that would generate the same amount of annual revenue. Voters will also see a request to renew a 5-year, 1-mill permanent improvement levy, revenue from which can only be used to maintain and improve district facilities.

Part of the need for more operating revenue is increasing enrollment, according to Beavercreek Schools Treasurer and CFO Penny Rucker.

District officials said there are currently 113 more students enrolled in special education classes compared to this time last year.

Rucker said the district’s five-year financial forecast shows a deficit three years out.

“Once we start showing a deficit, we have to show a plan of action to the Ohio Department of Education,” Rucker said. “A lot of what we’re experiencing is costs related to unfunded mandates.”

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District spokesman Ryan Gilding said projections show the district will grow by 600 to 1,200 more students over the next 10 years.

“This community is really exploding with new housing starts in the township. And it’s only going to escalate,” Gilding said.

Brian Jarvis, former city council member and grandfather to a first-grader, said the board has some tough decisions to make.

“That’ll change our schedule and all parents’ schedules quite a bit,” Jarvis said. “The pay-to-play fee is expensive, probably will cost them more in play-to-play fees than it would have cost in property tax increases had they passed the tax last year. That’s the shame in all this.”

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