Election 2019: Centerville school levy district’s first in 6 years

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DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Centerville City Schools is going on the ballot for a school levy for the first time since 2013, a levy Superintendent Tom Henderson said is critical to keep the district at its current level of success.

Issue 8 will be on the ballot on Nov. 5. It combines a 5.9-mill operations levy with a 1-mill permanent improvement levy. Henderson said the levy is a must for the district since the 5.9-mill levy passed in 2013, due to inflation, is now funding the district at 5.2 mills.

“We have not gone this long (without a levy on the ballot) in 40 years,” Henderson said. “We were on a three-to-four year rotation.”

ELECTION 2019: What is a mill levy?

The school has taken on costs from mandates and an influx of several hundred students in six years. Like other local districts, Centerville had increased cost on safety, is paying tuition and books for students in the College Credit Plus programs along with social and emotional well-being programs and Pre-K education.

Henderson said many of these programs are mandated, but they’re programs the district wants to offer its students and the community.

“College Credit Plus, obviously it’s a good deal for parents and some kids,” Henderson said. “You’ll hear stories from some districts where a student will graduate with their high school diploma and their associate’s degree. You can imagine knocking out two years of college, and the district pays for that? That sounds like a pretty good deal.”

The 1 mill for permanent improvement would help maintain the district’s current buildings and help fund any purchases that are expected to be around longer than five years. The district’s oldest building is 95 years old while its newest is 12. Henderson said most of the district’s buildings are in the 50-year range but have been well maintained.

“We think we’ve done a good job maintaining facilities,” Henderson said. “We prioritized what we need to do to keep our facilities in good shape, but we’re getting to the point we can’t do all the things we can do for preventive maintenance.”

The district has a fleet of 120 buses and has scheduled replacing 6 to 8 every school year. The permanent improvement levy would allow the district to keep steadily replacing buses.

Without the levy, Henderson said cuts would come from manpower and the district would also dip into its general fund.

“If we don’t pass this levy in 2019, we will not get the new collection in 2020, even if we come back in March,” Henderson said. “That means we have to scrutinize both our operations and permanent improvement areas and make some changes. One thing we’ve been able to do is to retain and attract quality teachers.

“I don’t have the information, I would have to work with the board on it, but we would probably have to make cuts in personnel – that’s what you do when you’re an educational institution.”

To find your polling location for the Nov. 5 election, visit the Montgomery County website.

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