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Butler County school district calls countywide school security tax unnecessary, counterproductive

School districts throughout Butler County have been discussing the possibility of a county-wide levy to fund the cost of school safety, but Talawanda leaders said they see it as unnecessary and even counterproductive for their district.

School districts in Butler County recently met to discuss a 1.5-mill tax levy to fund school safety support, such as resource officers and mental health professionals.

MORE: A closer look at the school security tax proposal in Butler County

Several of the county’s larger school districts are cash-strapped and will have a difficult time funding additional safety personnel, according to Talawanda Treasurer and CFO Mike Davis. 

Talawanda, however, has the funds to pay for the additional positions, Davis said.

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Earlier this month, the board approved hiring three additional school resource officers — to put one in each building — and three social workers — to have one based in each elementary building.

MORE: Talawanda hires more police officers, adds social workers in elementaries

Davis recommended the district not be a part of what is being called a County School Financing District, and board members agreed.

Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones wants schools to improve security

Board member Michael Crowder said the money would be allocated on a per-pupil basis and called it, “a bad deal for Talawanda.”

Talawanda would need a vote from the board to opt in to the proposed tax levy, which is proposed at 1.5 mills for 10 years.

Davis told the board he advises against opting in to the plan because the district is closing the year with a budget surplus which will cover the costs of the additional school resource officers and social workers.

MORE: Sheriff to school boards that don’t change security: ‘I will be their worst enemy’

He said being a part of asking district taxpayers for the money with that surplus would raise questions about the need and raise more questions down the road when the district needs to ask voters for more money to operate.

“… how/why would we ask our taxpayers to open their wallets given our financial strength? That’s seems like a tough sell and would raise questions. Then what happens when we really need operating monies down the road?” he wrote in an e-mail to the board May 17.

Distribution of the funds, which would be on a per pupil basis, is another concern, he told the board in that same e-mail.

“… the monies collected from our taxpayers would benefit other districts. That’s nonsense!,” Davis wrote. 

Chris Brown president of the Butler County Educational Service Center, said the levy money would not be based per student, but “would be based on valuation of the district.” 

“The millage collected from each district would be returned dollar for dollar,” he told the Journal-News.

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