NEW PHILADELPHIA Dover, Oh

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Dover, Ohio (WJER) - Dover community members are asking the school district to hear them out before moving forward on proposed cuts following the operating levy defeat at the ballot box.

A group called “Support Dover Excellence” presented a list of concerns to the district’s Board of Education Monday, with a focus on the drawbacks of reorganizing the elementary schools to a grade-level system. 

One organizer, Jenna Pilcher, says the negatives outweigh any savings.

“We feel it will affect our children negatively. They’ll lose the stability and the consistency. Many of them won’t go to school with their siblings and their neighborhood friends anymore. It’ll create a lot of difficulties for parents,” she says.

Pilcher says she would like to create a dialogue with the board and find alternative ways to save money.

“[We want] to have them hear our concerns and start a conversation about possible alternatives and other ways to cut spending. We love our kids. We love our teachers, and we respect our board and administration, and we are just hoping to work together to find an alternative to this financial problem,” she says.

Lindsay Stemple, who also helps organize the group, says she would like to discuss other options with the board before they begin taking action on the original plan.
            
“My husband and I sat down with administration on Friday for about 2 ½ hours discussing kind of how they came about this decision. There were definitely some alternatives on the table. We would like to explore those alternatives to see if we can find a different alternative that doesn’t impact the elementary school kids as much,” she says.

Stemple says she thinks there is still time to have productive conversations to find solutions everyone can agree on.

“I just hope that the board and the administration will open up dialogue with the community, open up and receive input and feedback from both the community and from the faculty because they’re on the front lines teaching our kids every day,” she says.

Superintendent Carla Birney says it is still very likely that the board will go back to the voters for additional operating money, but she says immediate action is necessary to keep Dover from operating from a deficit as early as 2019.

“With the defeat of the levy this November, we will now be back on the ballot probably in 2019 but we will not collect money if we’re successful until the year 2020, and so cuts need to be made now to get the budget in line, and if we’re not successful in future ballot issues, there will be additional cuts,” she said. 

The school projects a roughly $3 million deficit next school year without making necessary adjustments. Other cuts include discontinuing their senior citizen pass program and implementing pay-to-participate fees and 

Birney says she’s open to a community meeting to discuss residents’ concerns, but she says the board feels confident in their decision.

No official community meeting has been scheduled.

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