BG school levy soundly defeated
Written by MARIE THOMAS BAIRD Sentinel Education Editor
Tuesday, 07 May 2013 21:59
Bowling Green School District’s request for more operating money was soundly defeated Tuesday.
|Levy supporter Laura Wicks hugs Ann McVey, Superintendent of Bowling Green Schools in Grounds for Thought in Bowling Green, Ohio on May 7, 2013. (Photo: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
The final tally on the 6.75-mill property tax request was 4,118 opposed (65 percent) and 2,174 in favor (35 percent).
Upon full collection in 2014-15, the property tax would have brought $3.945 million into the district’s coffers.
The board decided to try a property tax after an 0.75-percent income tax request failed in November.
Sam Melendez, who worked on the Citizens in Support of Our Schools committee in support of the levy, said Tuesday night he was surprised by the margin of defeat and thought the committee did a good job getting the message out that the schools needed the money to operate.
“We personally reached out to a lot of people,’’ Melendez continued, explaining that volunteers went door to door, made phone calls and put together mailings to tell voters why the district needed the funding.
About 45 supporters met at Grounds for Thought downtown Tuesday night to await the results.
“We were feeling pretty good about things” until results starting coming in, he said.
He added that he wished districts didn’t have to fund schools this way, where “we always have to be begging for money.”
The district has cut at least $2.5 million from its budget since the 2009-10 school year. This year its operating budget is $31.1 million.
And more cuts are on the way, according to Superintendent Ann McVey.
“We’ll be making tough decisions” about staff and programs, she stated Tuesday.
“I’m most disappointed for the students and the teachers,” she continued.
But “we’ll regroup and figure out what we’re going to do.”
The defeat is a blow to the district that is trying to hold off an estimated $4.7 million budget deficit at the end of the 2014-15 school year.
The underlying issue, and why the district needs more monies, is how schools are funded, McVey explained. Because Bowling Green is considered a “wealthy” district by the state based on the value of property in the district, rather than getting the approximate $5,000 per student in basic state aid, Bowling Green gets 25 percent of that.
“That is the fundamental problem and challenge of school districts,” she stated. “If we got full state funding, we’d be fine.”
With a funding system like that, “there’s no where else to go except voters to keep the excellent schools we’re accustomed to.”
Neither McVey or school board President Ellen Scholl would say whether the district would try another levy in November.
“Voters have said very clearly what they think,” stated Scholl.
“It’s going to be a very grave situation and totally eye opening to the community,” with how the district responds to the levy defeat.
“We need to seriously make cuts,” she stated.
“I don’t think the defeat is any happy occasion,” said Robert Maurer, who led the Citizens for Financial Responsibility campaign against the levy.
“I don’t think there’s any pride in the defeat of the levy,” he continued.
Maurer, a businessman and landlord in town, placed “Vote No” signs on all his rental properties and sent a mailer to all district residents questioning the district’s spending.
“We really didn’t get much information on how the funds would be used,” he said, explaining why he opposed the levy.
“It isn’t something we relish but I think the public has to be informed and better advised to the need of the funds,” he stated this morning.
“The people I talked to just didn’t understand why $4 million is necessary.”
Scholl took a moment to thank everyone who supported the district at the polls, and respected those who voted “no.”
McVey said the district will make “reductions that will have the least impact on students as possible.”
“I think that we will be looking at as many reductions as we can possibly make as soon as we can make them,” McVey stated.
Savings from cutting extracurriculars, always a threat when a school district is looking at a deficit situation, “is not even a drop in the bucket,” she continued.
“We really can’t cut any more teachers,” McVey said, then indicated that the district likely will look at classified personnel.
She couldn’t recall the last time the district had layoffs.
Through attrition and the closing of buildings in the last five years, the district has eliminated 15 percent of its teachers, 20 percent of its administrators, and 12 percent of its support personnel, McVey said.
No matter what cuts are made, “We’ll continue to provide the best education that we can,” she stated.
“We’ll just have to figure out what to do next,” said Scholl.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 May 2013 09:15