Bellbrook-Sugarcreek school officials approve cuts, propose more reductions if levy fails

Local News

SUGARCREEK TOWNSHIP, Ohio (WDTN) – The Bellbrook-Sugarcreek school board approved a new round of budget cuts Thursday as the superintendent unveiled additional potential reductions if the levy on the March ballot fails.

A 5.7-mill continuous operating levy is set to appear on the March ballot for Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Local Schools. According to the district, it would generate roughly $3.3 million annually and cost taxpayers about $200 per year per $100,000 in appraised property value.

The March levy comes after a 7.5-mill replacement levy failed in May.

The cuts approved by the school board Thursday total roughly $287,000 for the 2020-2021 school year and $460,000 for the 2021-2022 school year, according to superintendent Doug Cozad.

Thursday’s school board meeting comes on the heels of a state performance audit, which found the district would face a deficit of $11 million in 2023 if no new levies are passed, Cozad said.

The reductions approved by the school board Thursday come in addition to the $2.3 million in budget cuts already made since summer 2018, Cozad said.

The new cuts include all middle school world language offerings and one high school English position, Cozad said. Pay-to-play fees for sports are increasing from $150 to $200, and all-day, everyday kindergarten tuition is set to increase by $900 per year, he added.

But if the levy fails in March, another $2.4 million in reductions would be needed, Cozad said.

“You have to decide what kind of school district do you want,” Cozad said. “Do you want a state minimum kind of school district, or do you want some that have some opportunities for our students?”

Some of the possible cuts include all high school busing, and transportation would be reduced for middle and intermediate school students, Cozad said. A high school social studies teacher would be cut, along with 85 paid supplemental positions throughout the district, such as coaches and club advisors, he added.

All STEM and art classes would be cut at the elementary and intermediate schools, and library positions would be reduced throughout the district, Cozad announced. Pay-to-play fees at the high school would increase again from $200 to $300.

Several people from both sides of the levy issue spoke during the public comments period. Meanwhile, several school board members directed their frustration at the state’s school funding system.

“Our state representatives, state senators need to know how you feel, and they need to know what they need to do to finance schools,” said Mary Frantz, school board member.

During Thursday’s meeting, Cozad did not rule out the possibility for any other reductions or levies over the next few years.

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