Officials in one of the two Butler County school systems on the May ballot with proposed tax hikes are getting more detailed about possible budget cuts should residents vote down a new tax.
Earlier this week, Edgewood Schools officials, who are seeking voter approval of a 1% earned income on May 2, revealed some of their proposed budget cuts for next school year should the school tax be defeated.
Among the reductions in personnel, programs and services for the 2023-2024 school year would be a reduction in the number of school police officers.
“We are in $1.5 million deficit spending in year two of a five-year forecast,” Edgewood Superintendent Kelly Spivey told the board of education during its Monday evening meeting.
The school system already cut $800,000 from its operating budget during the 2021-2022 school year and officials have been sounding an alarm since then about the need for more local tax revenue as federal COVID-19 relief funding is being phased out.
“We need to eliminate another $1.2 million at the end of this school year. This will be $2 million dollars of cuts in two years,” said Spivey.
“If the (earned income tax) doesn’t pass in (May) spring, we will need to cut another $1 million to address the deficit spending. That would place the (total) reductions at $3 million on our $38.7 million (annual operating) budget.
“We have to balance the budget so that we aren’t spending more than we bring into the district,” she said, referring to Ohio law mandated all public school systems operate without deficits as projected in bi-annual five-year forecasts.
“I don’t want to cut any of the programs. We need all of them. However, something has to be done,” she said.
“We received $5 million of Covid relief money that kept us off the ballot,” Spivey said, adding, however, “it has put us into a state of urgency at this time.”
Among the 16 proposed job cuts is the elimination of one of the five police positions at the district’s five schools should the tax issue be defeated in May.
School buses would be more crowded, routes longer and service areas around schools may be stopped for families with students in grades K-8 living within two miles of a campus.
Moreover, said Spivey, sports and extracurricular fees would jump from $50 to $150 per student with no family fee cap.
The school board voted 4-1 to approve Spivey’s budget reduction plan with member Amy Ashcraft voted against it.
More information and a video presentation on the district’s financial state can be viewed at Edgewood’s website.
Board member Marc Messerschmitt pointed to this week’s shooting massacre at a Nashville, Tennessee school in voicing his concern over reducing the number of school police officers also known as school resource officers (SROs).
“In light of the terrible tragedy in Nashville, it’s troublesome to think about cutting our SROs,” said Messerschmitt.
Edgewood Schools parent Jim Miller cited concerns over the continuing inflation impacting both the local and national economy.
“With inflation at record high and people living paycheck to paycheck, this district picked a terrible time to ask the taxpayers for more money,” said Miller.
Spivey said the community has to ask itself: “What do you want your schools to look like and what are you willing to pay for?”