The Beavercreek City School District has reached a contract agreement with teachers after months of strained negotiations, but the district is left with a budget problem.
The contract includes compromises over pay raises and health care; for the first time ever, teachers have agreed to forgo regular raises in the base wage and instead take raises based on district-wide performance. The Beavercreek schools consistently perform very high by state standards, and a continued “A” grade from the state of Ohio would mean a one-time raise for teachers each year.
School Board President Al Nels says while health and other costs keep going up, the district’s finances have been pretty much flat and funding from the state of Ohio has declined. Meanwhile, four recent efforts to ask property owners for extra cash have been defeated at the ballot box.
“We have not had a successful levy campaign for over ten years for any new money to operate our district,” he said. “We’ve added almost a thousands students during that time, so it’s been a real challenge.”
Beavercreek is not alone: last year emergency school levies failed to pass in Fairborn and Xenia, among other districts across the state. Beavercreek has cut 75 staff and some student programs, and the district is operating at a deficit. The majority of the school’s budget comes from local property taxes, and Nels thinks the district struck out with voters because they waited until the Recession was well underway to ask for new money.
An emergency levy in a smaller amount than previously proposed will be on the ballot this November and could raise more than $10 million per year for the district; teachers union leaders says their efforts will now turn to that campaign. The district's annual operating expenses are between $87-$92 million to serve about 7,600 students.