ST. PARIS, Ohio (WDTN) – A failed school levy in Champaign County is causing budget difficulties for Graham Local Schools. The district was forced to cut its budget by 1.5 million dollars.
Fees have gone up and the district has cut several positions, including four bus drivers.
“If we are not successful in November, the board is committed to cutting another $600,000 from our budget,” said Superintendent Kirk Koennecke.
Graham Local Schools has more than 2,000 students in their rural district.
“Additional jobs will be lost. There will be supply and fee increases for students. But worse, we would have to go to a state minimum bus program,” said Koennecke.
In years past, Graham, like many rural districts, would have buses pick students up from their homes. Budget cuts have changed that.
“Routes had to be changed. We are no longer doing door to door pickup. High school students have to walk to pod pickups,” said Koennecke.
Some students have to be at their stops hours before school starts. Some High school students and younger students are now on the same bus.
Lin Tyler, the local barber in ST Paris has no kids in the district but has heard it all.
“I was told when he (Koennecke) first put this on the ballot, he was told, I don’t think you’re going to get that large amount of money to pass.,” said Tyler.
Tyler expressed that when the levy failed, her clients told her they felt the district was going out of their way to punish parents.
Koennecke says 600 parents from the district did not vote.
The levy failed by 50 votes. Tyler says people are also concerned about how the 3rd year superintendent is handling the budget.
“At the end of his first school year, they were in a deficit,” said Tyler.
If the levy passes in November, a family that brings in $30,000 annually would pay $300 a year in taxes.
A levy has not passed in St Paris since 1993.
2 NEWS will follow up with this levy in November when it returns to the ballot.