BG school levy plan outlined PDF Print E-mail
Written by MARIE THOMAS BAIRD Sentinel Education Editor   
Friday, 03 May 2013 10:11
BG_Schools_rotator
The Bowling Green Board of Education is asking voters to support a new property tax at the polls Tuesday.
The district is asking for a 6.75-mill continuing property tax.
The tax would collect $1,972,922 in school year 2013-14, but would hit its full collection of $3,945,984 the following year. That amount is estimated to be collected each year at least through school year 2016-17, when expenses are again expected to top revenues. The deficit estimated in at the end of that year is $2,109,798.
If it doesn't pass, the district is looking at a $66,489 deficit at the end of the 2013-14 school year and $4.7 million at the end of 2014-15, according to the five-year fiscal forecast district Treasurer Rhonda Melchi submitted in October.
The district is operating on a $31.1 million budget this year, spending $2.8 million over revenue.
The board decided to try a property tax after an 0.75-percent income tax request failed in November.
Melchi has said the owner of a home appraised at $150,000 would pay $25.84 a month, or $310.08 a year for the new tax.
Individual tax amounts on homes can be calculated by visiting the Wood County Auditor's Office Web site at www.co.wood.oh.us/auditor/.
The district continues to try to save money as outside funding continues to drop.
According to Superintendent Ann McVey, in the 2003-04 school year there were 235 teachers, 75 support staff and 10 administrators.
At the end of this school year, there will be 197 teachers, 67.5 support staff and seven administrators.
That's while enrollment in the district has stayed nearly constant in that same span. In 2003-04 there were 3,202 students enrolled in the district; this year there are 3,125, according to reports compiled and submitted to the state.
The district also has closed and sold the bus garage, South Main and Milton elementaries, Central Administration and the junior high; and sold land on Mitchell Road. It will close Ridge Elementary at the end of this school year and put it up for sale.
The savings from the closure and sale of property is hard to quantify, Melchi said.
Those savings are countered by state reduction in funds.
"We keep cutting but the state keeps cutting what they give us," she added.
State funding is down $1.1 million this year to $9.7 million, compared to what was received in the 2008-09 school year, she explained.
"And it's going down a little each year" from reductions in property tax reimbursement, foundation payments, and personal property tax payments.
The district has cut at least $2.5 million from its budget since the 2009-10 school year, she said.
The district has frozen the base salary for all employees this year and last year, has reduced extended time and supplemental contracts, reduced supply budgets, eliminated staff appreciation measures and eliminated the HVAC positions.
The savings from having 19 teachers and staff who will retire at the end of this year has not been figured, since many of those positions will be filled at a lower salary.
Despite the freezing of base salaries - what teachers and staff are hired in at - they still have received step increases based on years of experience and education.
All wages and salaries paid in 2009-10 was $17.6 million with 25 pays; in 2010-11 was $18.3 million for 26 pays; in 2011-12 is was $18.3 million for 27 pays. This year the district has budgeted $17.5 million with 26 pays.
The number of pays within a fiscal year is based upon how the calendar falls, Melchi explained.
The district and teacher's union will start negotiations on a new contract this spring.
Sam Melendez, who is working on the Citizens in Support of Our Schools committee in support of the levy, said his group has been going door to door for three months to educate voters about the levy.
"We're getting real good response," he said. "People like the schools here in town."
BG Citizens for Truth, an offshoot of Citizens in Support of Our School, has started a Facebook page showing support.
Adrian Smith, a retired Bowling Green Schools teacher, administers the site and said he started it to offset some negative comments about the levy.
"This has just taken on a very ugly state of affairs," he stated.
The site has almost 400 likes and has reached more than 22,000 people around the world, he said.
"We need to spread the word, the good things the administration has done, and combat some of these ridiculous remarks."
His biggest concern, he said, "is the negativity in pulling down Bowling Green as a broken system."
With funding cuts from outside sources, "If we're going to have good public schools, we're going to have to do it on our own."
There will "absolutely" be cuts in programming if the levy fails, Melchi stated.
The Facebook page addresses each of the concerns expressed in a mailing sent by businessman and landlord Robert Maurer, who is leading the Citizens for Financial Responsibility anti-levy campaign.
Smith said he has challenged Maurer to a public debate, but was turned down.
"I wish he would. I think it would be helpful. But at this point he has refused," Smith stated.
BG Citizens for Truth will hold a rally at the former site of the junior high on East Wooster Street Monday at 7:30 p.m.
Melendez said he received a copy of Maurer's letter.
"I thought it was pretty inaccurate, pretty sloppy (and) confusing. It just distorted a bunch of facts. It struck me as kind of silly."
Melendez also was given a copy of a letter mailed by local developer and landlord Rick Metz warning his tenants if the levy passes, rent will increase by $30 per month starting in June or at the time of lease renewal.
"If you or your spouse wish to express your displeasure with this situation you will have the opportunity to vote against the levy in May," the letter stated.
As for this levy request, "It's a constant need. We have to make up what the state has taken away," Melendez said.
"They've been tightening their belts, they've been cutting for years. It's time we step up and take care of our own backyard," he said.
 

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