Beavercreek City Schools hold meetings to inform the public about levy
By: Natalie Jones
BEAVERCREEK--- The Beavercreek City School district is holding informative public meetings for residents regarding the emergency operating levy on the Nov. 6 ballot.
The 6.2 mill levy will cost homeowners of a $100,000 house, $217 a year or $18.09 a month. If approved, the levy will generate $11.4 million starting in 2019. If the levy does not pass, the district will have the option to run the levy again in the spring, according to Ryan Gilding, public relations specialist for Beavercreek City Schools.
“The district believes that public meetings give our residents an opportunity to have their questions answered quickly and learn about the need for the Nov. 6 levy,” said Gilding. “It is important to realize that the meetings are also about school funding, which in part, necessitates that we put this levy before our community,”
The public meetings are designed to answer the question of why the school district has determined additional funds are needed and provide additional levy information.
Residents have the opportunity to attend one more public meetings to learn about the levy at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 30 at Beavercreek High School.
At the Tuesday, Oct. 16 public meeting, Superintendent Paul Otten began by explaining what an emergency operating levy is.
“An operating levy allows a school district to spend those dollars on salaries, pay electric bills, to purchase paper, purchase equipment. It is unrestricted, we use it to run day-to-day operations in the school district,” said Otten.
The voters of the Beavercreek City School District approved operating levies in 2003 and 2013, a bond issue for upgrades at Coy and Trebein in 2007 and a permanent improvement levy in 1989.
“Our permanent improvement levy approved in 1989 was a 1 mill permanent improvement levy, it generated just shy of $900,000 for the school,” said Otten.
In 1994 there was a court case DeRolph v. State of Ohio. The lawsuit was filed to challenge the schools funding formula as unconstitutional. According to Otten, the ruling has been challenged three additional times. Ohio school districts rely too heavily on the local tax base to fund the schools and a lack of financial growth created, Otten said.
“As of today, our funding system in the state of Ohio has been deemed unconstitutional and we still work under that broken model,” he added.
Because of the court case, the permanent improvement levy continues to generate the same dollar amount. The mileage is now 0.47 because the state has had to roll-back the mileage to keep the same dollar amount, according to Otten.
Other factors impacting the amount of state funding received by Beavercreek City Schools are the community wealth factor and “The Cap.”
The community wealth factor ranks school districts in the state of Ohio based on wealth. Beavercreek is ranked around the 92nd percentile in wealth. The higher wealth districts receive less state support, according to Otten.
Xenia Community Schools is ranked around the 52nd percentile, Oakwood City Schools around the 74th percentile, Sugarcreek Local Schools around the 89th percentile, and Centerville City Schools around the 91st percentile, according to the Ohio Department of Education, FY2017 District Profile Report.
The Ohio Department of Education defined similar districts with Beavercreek City Schools, including Centerville City Schools, Lakota City Schools, and Avon Lake City Schools.
“Now we see this is a very wealthy district, which because of that we have very low support from the state which then requires our taxpayers to pay more, the state says you’re a wealthy district your community can pay for it,” said Otten.
“The Cap” is the state’s funding formula for Beavercreek City Schools. “The Cap” means for every new student no additional funds are given.
“Every new house that is built…every new family that moves in with kids, we do not get any additional money from the state,” said Otten.
During the meeting, Pupil Services Director Bobbie Fiori explained the diversity of Beavercreek students. Students with disabilities and students with gifted identification have increased from the 2013-2014 school year to 2017-2018 school year. Students with disabilities had a net gain of 79 and students with gifted identification had a net gain of 826.
In addition, there are students who are homeless, students with Section 504 Accommodation Plans, military students, and students with limited english proficiency. Having such a diverse student platform increases the needs for the school district according to Fiori.
School districts also have mandates and program requirements by the state. The state does not fund home instruction and college credit plus. Some programs are underfunded like special education preschool programs and gifted services, Fiori said.
“The increase in unfunded state mandates, rising enrollment, and a state funding model that does not provide adequate support for new students has strained our resources,” said Gilding. “This levy will maintain the services and instruction we already provide.”
The district is looking at a two-prong approach to deal with the five-year forecast that is predicting future deficits. The two-prong approach deals with increasing revenues with a levy and decreasing expenditures through reductions, according to Penny Rucker, treasurer.
“We need to be able to look at things that we can do in the district to generate savings,” said Deron Schwieterman, director of human resources.
In the 2018-2019 school year, the district generated $1.1 million in savings through saving costs in staffing, curriculum, technology services, and business services, Schwieterman said.
“One of things that we now have to be thinking about and we are actively thinking about is how do we continue this practice of efficiency whether it is in staffing, curriculum, or other services that we provide into the following school year,” said Schwieterman, “We also have to have the consideration if we are not successful with the levy this Nov. what are some of those services going to look like.”
The district is looking into improving the efficiency of transportation, redistricting, start times, and the programs offered in the schools to generate savings in the 2019-2020 school year.
Raising $11.4 million a year will help maintain the current level of services the district provides and will help balance the forecast, according to Rucker.
Beavercreek residents Jim and Missy Sansabrino attended their first public meeting on Oct. 16 to learn what the district does with their money and why the district needs more money. The couple has one child left in the school district.
Missy is for the levy and Jim is against the levy.
“I think they are just building so many houses and so many kids are coming into the district, and they are just trying to handle it. I think they probably need more operating funds to handle the additional kids,” said Missy.
Jim is wary of supporting the levy due to previous bad accounting practices.
“I think people have a better idea of how they should spend their money as oppose to an elective official,” said Jim. “Most of these people coming to this don’t appear to have kids in school. I think it’s wrong to have them support this. I don’t want to force people that are on fixed incomes or whatever it is to spend more of that money on something they are not going to get a lot out of.”
Currently enrollment is 7,953 students. For the 2027-2028 school year the most likely enrollment is 8,583 according to Superintendent Paul Otten. Otten believes more students results in more resources.
Video from the first public meeting held Thursday, Sept. 13 at Main Elementary. The goal of each meeting is to discuss why the district is asking for more money and to explain the Nov. 6 levy.
Beavercreek City Schools has held public meetings to inform residents about the operational levy on the Nov. 6 ballot.
The meetings address the question of why the district continues to ask for more money. Reasons include lack of state funding, diversity of students, rising enrollment, and unfunded mandates and programs.
If the levy does not pass, the district will have the option to run the levy again in the spring.