The Brecksville-Broadview Heights Board of Education took the first step last night to put a 6.9-mill renewal levy on the August ballot, three months after the district asks the voters to approve a .
The renewal levy wouldn’t raise taxes, but its failure could hurt the district, as it would cut away at the district’s revenues.
“We are in a significant financial place in the school district’s history,” said Superintendent Scot Prebles.
If the levy request fails in August, the district would get to try once more in November. The board discussed pushing back the request to the November ballot during its meeting Monday night, but ultimately decided that it was too risky to leave the vote up to only one election.
“If we don’t pass it by November, we’re done,” said member Alan W. Scheufler.
Typically, the district puts such requests on the ballot a year in advance, said Karen E. Obratil, the district’s treasurer and chief financial officer. But the district held off on this request because there had been a levy on the November ballot last fall, which failed.
This pattern has led to some voter fatigue, Scheufler said, because the district repeatedly has to return to the ballot for new and renewal levies.
“This is a very difficult time,” Prebles said of the current levy campaign. “This is a very difficult sale.”
The board addressed that issue by voting to change the renewal levy to a continuous one that, if passed, would not have to be placed on the ballot year after year. The board agreed that voters would still have a voice, since the district’s other renewal levies do not fit into the state requirements and could not be turned into continuous levies.
The board also approved a retirement incentive, which would affect 11 employees, Board President George J. Balasko said during a break in the meeting. The employees who accepted the incentive and agreed to retire early had an average salary of $84,800 – the teachers who would have had to be laid off in their place have an average salary of $40,000 to $45,000, Balasko said. Part of the will include a reduction in teaching staff, but it was not specified where those cuts would have to come from. Over three years, the incentive could save the district more than half a million dollars, Balasko said.
The board members noted during the discussion that this measure both saves money in salaries and provides stability in the classroom.
Prebles also gave the board an overview of some of the potential changes in the state budget for school districts. He noted that while nothing is final at this point, the changes on the table would all negatively affect the district’s finances.
There are three major items that the district is watching carefully, he said:
- The proposed changes to the phase-down of the tangible personal property tax, which would reduce the district’s revenues.
- The education foundation funding, which the governor has said would increase. However, the district has to take the loss of federal stimulus funding into account, which is scheduled to run out at the end of the current budget.
- Ohio House Bill 136, which would allow students to receive scholarships from their home districts if they chose to attend a charter school or approved private schools. Districts could have to pay up to $4,600 for each scholarship, which is more than they receive for each student, Prebles said.
Prebles noted earlier in the meeting that there were still students working hard and achieving good things, even as funding in the district has been growing more difficult.
Earlier in the evening, the Board of Education honored some of those students and their achievements, including the state wins of the high school and of a member of the high school and the statewide recognition of seven student artists.
“We are very appreciative and very proud of you,” Prebles told the students and families in attendance.
Editor’s note, added July 23, 2011: For more election news, check our .