As we move towards election day Nov. 5, the Beavercreek City School District is among those pleading with voters for new levy funding. The district has had four recent levies defeated at the ballot box, and is now returning with a fifth, reduced levy of 6.3 mills. The emergency levy would cost property owners about $18 a month per $100,000 of appraised property value.
Dianna Doyle’s kids went to school in Beavercreek, and now six of her eight grandchildren go to school in the district. She recently got involved with the advocacy group supporting the school levy, which is Issue 19 on the ballot.
“It was what brought me to Beavercreek to begin with,” Doyle said of the school system, which has received consistently high ratings from the state. “A good strong school system helps your community, it brings business, and it keeps the property values at a level that we all want to stay consistent.”
But a new school levy hasn’t passed in Beavercreek since 2003, which puts the district in a bind.
“During that time we’ve grown our enrollment by over a thousand students,” said board president Al Nels. “We’ve endured several state funding cuts and of course the costs of our daily operations all continue to rise.”
They’ve cut elementary art and music classes, reduced tutoring for struggling students, and laid off 75 people. And this fall the school district and the teachers’ union went head-to-head over salaries; teachers agreed to flat base wages for two years, and will pay a larger portion of health care costs.
Many voters just don’t want to pay a new property tax.
“We need a state-level, statewide solution,” said resident Mike Thomas, who thinks the whole levy funding system needs to go. He argues that the system of state funding will never see the reforms it needs unless voters refuse to pass levies. “Put pressure on Governor Kasich to help solve this. The easy wrong here is to go back to the homeowner and get more money out of them.”
The most recent Ohio budget reduced Beavercreek City Schools’ state revenues by 33 percent through 2015. The proposed local levy would raise $10.4 million over five years.