GERMAN TOWNSHIP, Ohio (WDTN) – Officials with Valley View Local Schools say another $1.1 million in cuts would be needed if the levy on the March ballot fails.
According to superintendent Ben Richards, the district has already made $1.1 million worth of budget cuts since a 6.49-mill operating levy was rejected in May.
Those budget cuts made last year included the elimination of more than 13 teaching positions, a school nurse and several administrators, Richards said. The district’s class sizes also increased, he added, with the class-size ratio now at 25:1, compared to 20:1 before the May levy failed.
The district is now asking voters to approve a 5.5-mill bond levy to build a new school for grades K-5 and 9-12 that would replace outdated buildings. Three out of the district’s four buildings are not ADA-accessible and do not have air conditioning, Richards said.
The bond levy would last 37 years and would cost $192.50 annually per $100,000 in appraised property value, he added.
A 0.5 percent income tax increase is also included in the same proposal on the ballot. The increase, which would amount to roughly $250 per year for a $50,000 income, would fund day-to-day operations and would allow the district to avoid a deficit, Richards said.
“In our community, we have a significant number of farmers and senior citizens in the community, and an income tax hits them a little bit less,” Richards explained.
At a special school board meeting Wednesday night, Richards unveiled cuts that would be made if the March levy fails.
All clubs, such as drama and STEM organizations, would be eliminated for all grade levels, Richards said. Athletics for 7th and 8th graders would also be cut. as well as elementary school specials like art, music and physical education, he added.
More staff positions would be eliminated, he said, including half of the district’s assistant coaches, more administrators and secretarial staff members.
“We are in a place where we’re having to look at budgetary concerns rather than simply doing what’s best for kids,” Richards said.
The pay-to-play cost for high school student-athletes would double to $400 per sport, Richards said. Preschool tuition would also double, he added.
“My brother and sister also play tennis, and so they would never get to be a part of that program,” said Abigail Caskey, a Valley View High School senior.
It was a mostly pro-levy crowd at Wednesday’s meeting, with all speakers during the public comment period expressing support for the measure.
But one parent urged the school board to reassess its proposed cuts.
“I just think that there needs to be a balance, and if it comes down to cutting out art and music for the elementary school kids, I’d much rather lose football and soccer and volleyball for the high school kids if it was a trade,” said Stephanie Johnson, whose son participates in the high school drama program.
If the levy fails in March, the school board would decide when to put another levy on the ballot, Richards said.