Perrysburg school board weighs levy options


PERRYSBURG — Facing enrollment growth of more than double the expected rate, the board of education is
considering levy options for November.
Perrysburg Schools Superintendent Tom Hosler presented 2019 levy options to the board during the monthly
working group meeting Tuesday.
“The 2019-2020 budget bottom line, the district must reduce the budget by $5.5 million or pass a levy,”
Hosler said.
Facing a $2.7 million deficit by the end of June 2020, the board may vote on a new operating levy next
month. It would be on the Nov. 6 ballot.
For the owner of a $200,000 home, 9.875-mills — billed as the traditional levy — would be an increase of
$691 annually, or $58 per month and generating $9.4 million per year.
The monthly increase to that same $200,000 home with 6.5 mills — an incremental levy — would be $38 in
2020 for $6.2 million, but increasing every year to 11.76 mills or $69 per month by 2024 and $11.2
million in the final year.
“The 11.76 mills is based on the valuation of the community not increasing,” Hosler said.
He said $5.5 million is the minimal amount needed for the current student population, assuming no future
growth. Given a 2.5 percent growth rate and the financial differences between the various levy options,
the district would need between $9.2 million and $11.2 million.
“It’s a rolling number. We’re trying to aim ahead,” Hosler said.
Board members briefly discussed an income tax, but decided against it. Because of the way the tax
collection dates line up with the school year it would take 18 months to begin collection, in quarterly
payments. The resulting deficit spending situation is not allowed by the state.
“If we were to do an income tax, we would have to make significant reductions until the collections
caught up with our school year. So it creates this weird dynamic,” Hosler said.
Calculations showed that it would be approximately two and half years before cuts might be able to be
“That’s a pretty tough ask,” Hosler said. “We have a 0.5 percent income tax in Perrysburg right now. So
it has worked for us in the past, but for us, with a fast growing district, it’s not the right vehicle.”

He outlined how under current conditions, with no new revenue, on Jan. 1, 2020, the school district will
not have enough funds to pay for its current operations and is projected to end the 2019-20 school year
with deficit spending.
Ending June 2020, the school district’s revenues will be $56.8 million. With expenditures at $62.3
million, the ending balance will be negative $5.5 million. The rainy day fund of $2.8 million does then
factor into the equation, but still leaves an ending cash balance of negative $2.7 million.
“It might look to everyone else like we just started talking about it, but we’ve really been working on
this for over a year and a half,” said school board member Sue Larimer. “We are coming with solid
numbers, solid information and solid ideas from which to deal, on a problem we have no control
over…We’re not shooting from the hip.”
Perrysburg has continued to have increasing school enrollment. According to the board, historical growth
averages have been at 1.9 percent, but last year it hit 4.9 percent, which had been projected to
increase at a rate of 2.5 percent per year.
“We know we can’t turn students away and say we’re full. We have to make it work,” Hosler said.
At that rate, the school district’s growth outpaces the level of local and state funding.
From February 2018 to February 2019 the district added 246 students. Over the three years from February
2016 to February 2019 it added a total of 459 students. For perspective, Hosler compared that number of
students to the size of Frank Elementary, which has 489 students.
Hosler put numbers to the financial impact of that growth. It costs $10,545 to educate one pupil. With
459 students gained over last three years, the cumulative cost of that education is $4.8 million. State
revenue growth for the district over that period was $1.3 million. That leaves $3.6 million in costs,
not covered by the state, to educate additional students for the last three years.
Board members were reminded that schools do not get additional money, due to inflation, because of Ohio
state House Bill 920, passed in the 1970s.
Some of the practical considerations behind those new students are: the need for more employees, buses,
classroom supplies and furniture. Classroom trailers are also anticipated at Perrysburg High School next
The dollar amount needed for the levy will depend on expectations for future growth, as well as the type
of levy chosen.
In addition to the types of levy options, the pros and cons of both two year and five year levy lengths
of were also debated.
Hosler reminded board members of the program cuts and 52 positions lost in 2010, when $3.1 million
shortfall, he explained as being in the middle of a levy cycle. That money had to be removed from the
budget for it to balance.
“We’re not threatening. This is an option. As the board you can just say we’re going to make these
changes,” Hosler said. “We know that growth will continue in the short term, even if the levy fails.
Houses are being built. People are under contract. That’s going to continue to happen. During that time
families are going to continue to move in, during the short term, and we’re going to need funds to
Hosler put a face on the concept of doing nothing, which he equated to the same as losing the levy. With
the assumption that growth continues, adjustments would include job loses, split shift student
schedules, reductions in transportation and reductions in extra-curriculars.
“Perrysburg has not been a community that is a do-nothing community,” Hosler said, while introducing the
first option for the district. He also noted that home values would plummet and that “the things that
make Perrysburg, Perrysburg, would begin to erode.”
Hosler expressed hopes for the levy to include the amount needed to handle growth, while continuing to
improve safety, security and maintaining the current level of academic quality.
“Growth is a symptom of our own success,” said board president Jarman Davis.
The school board members will be considering all of the various options as they move into the March 18
board meeting, hoping for feedback from the public.
School Board Schedule
• March 18 Board Meeting: Feedback on the levy type options.
• April 2 Board Work Session: Explore options for the amount needed to handle growth, safety, security
and maintaining academic excellence.
• April 22 Board Meeting: Vote to place issue on ballot.

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