School officials in Springboro are gearing up to hire a new superintendent, as well as a campaign to win over voters on a proposed tax issue that would bring new money to the district.
The board agreed during a special work session on Nov. 20 to begin searching for a “permanent superintendent” and wrap up the work of committees studying the district’s financial and facilities needs.
The committees were part of a strategic planning process headed by former Superintendent Dan Schroer and a consultant hired at his recommendation.
The facilities planning committee has tentatively identified $32.6 million in needs at district schools, as well as for technology, the bus system and security precautions, according to a spreadsheet obtained by this newspaper.
The financial planning committee has studied the district’s latest five-year forecast, which projects a growing cash crunch.
The committee is expected to recommend going to voters for an additional tax in the upcoming presidential election or the May or November elections in 2021.
“Those are probably our three best options,” Treasurer Terrah Floyd said during the work session at the high school library.
On Aug. 30, Schroer resigned as part of a separation agreement with the board, which accused him of misconduct involving mileage reimbursements, sick days and use of work days.
Carrie Hester, previously assistant superintendent for operations, was named as Schroer’s interim replacement. The strategic planning process paused following Schroer’s departure.
“I think it’s important to keep pushing ahead,” Board Member Dan Gudz said. ““I think we resuscitate it. We don’t want to throw it away.”
The work session began with discussion of replacing Schroer next year after a search process to begin in January.
In addition, the facilities committee is expected to continue visiting school buildings to hone the projected financial needs. The total projected need has been reduced from $50 million to $32.6 million, according to discussion at the work session.
“That’s the true need,” Hester said during the work session. “This is not upgrading.”
A visit to Clearcreek Elementary ended with the need there set at $2 million. Other tentative needs include $7.5 million at the high school and $6.8 million for districtwide technology, according to the district spreadsheet.
In some cases, officials said, the district might want to replace, rather than repair, aging facilities.
The board also discussed the need to better serve students’ mental-health needs in anticipation of adding costs from this to the amount sought through an additional tax.
In December and January, Floyd said the finance committee would review different levies, bond or income tax issues that could be proposed to voters.
“It’s going to encompass everything that delivers our core education,” Floyd said.
Board President Jamie Belanger said the sooner the committees complete their work, the sooner the board can “engage the community in a conversation about the level of investment in the schools.”
Eight of Ohio’s 607 school districts spend less per student than Springboro schools, according to the District Profile Reports released annually by the Ohio Department of Education.
Three parents attended the work session.
Board Member Lisa Babb called for “conversations” with voters in the district, continuing beyond the levy efforts.
“Letting the community know they have a voice,” Babb said. “We need to hear more new voices.”
The deadline has already passed for putting a tax issue on spring election ballots.
To be included on ballots for the Nov. 3 presidential election, the board would have to pass required resolutions by July 24.
Board Member Charles Anderson said he was leery of putting the issue on the same ballot as the presidential election.
“I would say May of ‘21 we have to be on the ballot,” Anderson said.
To get on the May 4, 2021, ballot, Floyd said the district would have to pass the required resolutions by Jan. 22, 2021.
The board also needed to consider that contract negotiations would likely begin in February 2021 and three board seats would be up in the November 2021 election, Floyd said.
According to Floyd, since 1951, district voters have approved 28 of 38 tax issues, mostly by renewing “a string of emergency levies.”
Voters have not approved permanent improvement issues in recent decades, while the last continuing levy passed in 1988, Floyd said.
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