Bellbrook-Sugarcreek school officials discuss levy, budget cuts at public meeting

Local News

SUGARCREEK TOWNSHIP, Ohio (WDTN) – Bellbrook-Sugarcreek school officials say deeper cuts will be made if their proposed 5.7-mill operating levy fails in March.

The district chose to put a levy back on the ballot after a 7.5-mill replacement levy failed in May.

According to Doug Cozad, superintendent of Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Local Schools, the district has made more than $2.3 million in budget cuts since the summer of 2018. That includes the elimination of 20 staff positions, half of which were teachers.

Regardless of whether the proposed levy passes in March, further cuts will be necessary, Cozad said.

“We’re in $1.8 million in the red – not next fiscal year, the fiscal year after that,” he said.

A performance audit from the state auditor’s office shows that deficit could grow to $11 million by 2023 without the passage of new levies.

The district is asking voters to pass a 5.7-mill continuous operating levy March 17, which would fund the schools’ day-to-day operations.

The levy would generate roughly $3.3 million annually and would cost taxpayers about $200 per year per $100,000 in appraised property value, according to school officials.

Voters remain divided. Sarah Williamson, a parent who has volunteered with the levy campaign, told 2 NEWS she’s concerned about what those cuts could mean for her children.

“If they start making those kinds of cuts, it’s really going to impact our kids’ education,” Williamson said. “It’s going to impact everything.”

But opponents argue taxes are already too high. John Stafford, who runs the “vote no” campaign, said he believes there are other ways the district can obtain the money it needs.

“We’re not really talking about cuts,” Stafford said. “What we’re talking about doing is for every teacher that’s making $100,000, we could hire two teachers at 50 [thousand]. We could reduce our class sizes.”

Greene County Auditor David Graham also spoke at Monday night’s meeting.

Another similar meeting is planned for February 17 at 6 p.m. at Bellbrook Middle School, Cozad said.

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