Today was the deadline to put a school levy on the May ballot, but on January 17 The Beavercreek Board of Education decided to pass on the opportunity. If it had gone on the ballot, a school levy would have shared the ballot with the City of Beavercreek’s controversial Income Tax measure and may have suffered from the two tax increase measures being presented to voters.

The Board however did not cite this as it’s reason for passing on the opportunity, instead citing uncertainty in State funding for it’s decision. On Juanuary 17 The Beavercreek Board of Education held a work session to consider the district’s financial needs and potential levy timeframes. Members discussed that three opportunities remain for public school districts to place levy measures on the ballot: one in May, another in August, and a third in November. They reviewed the filing deadlines associated with these opportunities, the first being February 6th for the May ballot as well as other factors that have a bearing on the timing of any levy request. The Board said State funding concerns played a prominent role in their discussion.

All five Board members agreed that Ohio’s public school districts face considerable financial uncertainty, given Governor Kasich’s announcement that a new school funding formula will be unveiled near the end of January. The Governor is also scheduled to present his Biennial Budget for Fiscal Years 2014 and 2015 on February 4—within days of the May election filing deadline. The Board said that these initiatives, and the funding allocated within them for public schools, would have a direct bearing on Beavercreek Schools’ budget projections.

“Unfortunately school districts do not have clarity about what is coming from the state in terms of budget AND school funding reform,” said Beavercreek Board of Education President Al Nels. “We believe the Governor’s plans WILL have an impact on our district’s financial situation, and we need to understand the implications of those plans before we go back to voters.”

Board members also expressed concern that the District could face state fiscal oversight if it exhausts its cash reserves. Such a scenario could become a very real possibility if additional operating funds are not approved by voters in 2013, Board member Peg Arnold said, citing the Fairborn and Huber Heights school districts, whose financial situations have deteriorated to the point that they are in a state fiscal oversight situation.

“If the state comes in, they will not bring additional money to bail our district out,” Arnold said. “At that point, we will be forced to incur debt to cover operations until voters pass a levy.”
Board member Mick Lundy pointed out that district leaders have made $13 million in cuts and cost saving measures during the last two years. This includes reducing salary and wage expenses by 10 percent, from $46.3 million to $41.6 million, according to the District’s most recent Financial Forecast.

“These are real and significant cuts that have affected every level of our schools’ operations,” Lundy said. “The last time Beavercreek voters passed an operating levy for additional funds was in 2003. If education budgets are further reduced by the state, the situation for our district will only get worse, not better.”

“Although the Board has opted not to go on the ballot in May, we know we cannot continue to draw from our cash reserves to pay for operations,” said Board President Nels. “We do expect to return to voters again in 2013 with another operating levy request, but have not yet determined when that will occur.”

Source: Beavercreek Board of Education press release (edited for contect and content).