Levy defeat means cuts for school district
Voter rejection of a 4-mill levy last week means the Marysville Board of Education will have some tough decisions to make when it meets Nov. 15.
District officials will be looking for ways to trim $2 million from the budget for the next school year.
Final unofficial totals posted by the Union County Board of Elections showed voters rejected the levy by a tally of 7,864 (58 percent) to 5,634 (42 percent.)
"It is going to cut into the way we do business and opportunities we offer kids and services we offer families," Superintendent Diane Mankins said.
Mankins, school staffers, and board members gathered at Creekview Intermediate School Nov. 6 in hopes of watching the numbers swing their way. Instead, the crowd faced disappointment, which started early in the night.
"When the absentees came in initially, we were down about 1,200 votes," Mankins said. "We remained hopeful waiting for Mill Valley (precinct) to come in. But we knew we had a lot of ground to cover."
After the final precinct was counted, the numbers ended with the levy defeated by 2,230 votes.
The board will have to decide if it wants to try the levy again in the spring, she said.
"I would think we would entertain that. But even if it would pass, we still have to cut because we have to start next school year with a balanced budget," Mankins said.
"The governance team laid out a framework for where we would have to eliminate positions if the levy failed, and now we need to begin to analyze and crystallize that plan," school board President Jeff Mabee said.
In September, board members voted unanimously to accept Mankins' recommendations for potential budget cuts in preparation if the levy failed.
The initial proposal included 35 staff positions, which would cut costs for salaries, health care and mandated retirement benefits.
One central office administrator would be eliminated for a savings of $88,520; one secretarial post would be cut for a savings of $42,240; and a reduction in administrative contract days would save $75,000.
The district's classified staff is also included in the list. The jobs of 13 office aides, support services, secretaries, custodians and nurses would be cut, for a savings of $213,600.
Certified staff cuts include 20 teachers, mostly high school and middle school elective teaching positions, some K-12 guidance support, K-8 reorganization of unified arts and K-4 classroom teachers.
Had the levy passed, it would have generated an estimated $2.7 million annually and cost property owners an additional $122 a year per $100,000 of property valuations.
Mabee said the failed levy is a sign of the rough economic climate.
"I think it is a tough time to ask for new tax dollars," he said. "Our need does not go away, but I understand and respect when families have to make a choice with how they spend their limited dollars.
"I believe we still have a great deal of confidence from our community," he added.
The district's financial distress is due to a drop in revenue from the state, according to Treasurer Cindy Ritter. Ohio began to phase out the tangible personal property tax in 2008.
Ritter said the district lost $1.8 million in state funding in the past two years and will lose an additional $450,000 a year until the TPP is completely phased out.
The school board's Nov. 15 meeting will start at 7 p.m. at the Marysville Middle School Library, 833 N. Maple St.