Ross Schools levy defeated, officials say cuts are coming

Voters in the Ross Local Schools District widely rejected a property tax hike Tuesday and will now see sports fees jump along with an expansion of other program budget cuts, said district officials.

The 5-year, 7.99-mill, emergency property tax levy lost by a 64% to 36% margin, according to unofficial results posted Tuesday evening from the Butler County Board of Election.

Earlier this year Ross officials said they were forced to put the school tax hike on Tuesday’s ballot due primarily to a lack of state funding and projected budget shortfalls that had the district in the preliminary stages of a possible state takeover of some parts of its financial operations should the district not return to solvency.

If the levy had been approved, residents in the 2,800-student, largely rural school system would have seen their annual school property taxes for the owner of a $100,000 home increase by $279.65.

The impact of a voter rejection of the proposed tax hike will be especially significant on Ross school families with children playing school sports.

According to the district, the defeat of the levy will raise the individual school sport “base participation fee” to $825 per sport with no individual student or family fee cap per school year.

Voter approval of the new school tax would have seen individual sports fee per student charged at $150 per sport with an individual cap of $300 with a family fee cap of $450.

The Ross Board of Education has already voted to place the same proposed tax increase on the November ballot.

Ross Schools Superintendent Chad Konkle told the Journal-News Tuesday evening: “The Ross Local School District is disappointed in the outcome of the August 2 levy.”

“We were hopeful for a win but will continue to fight for our students in future levy attempts.”

Months ago, the school board released a statement justifying the tax hike request noting: “The district has drastically cut costs during the last two years.”

“Last year $600,000 was cut, and this year $700,000 was cut. Unfortunately, we are not able to cut our way back to financial stability because this is not a spending problem, but rather a revenue problem. The state of Ohio views Ross as a wealthy community. Because of that, they have diminished their contributions and expect residents to more aggressively fund their schools.”

Konkle said more budget cuts will now come in the wake of the levy loss.

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