Dover, Ohio - Dover school officials say changes and reductions will be necessary to maintain a balanced budget should voters fail to approve the district's 8.9-mill emergency operating levy during the November 6 General Election.
During their October 8 meeting, members of the Dover Board of Education discussed the potential impact of the levy’s failure and reviewed a plan detailing how the district would offset losses in funding, both from the state and as a result of the phasing out of the Tangible Personal Property Tax.
Superintendent Carla Birney says the levy was placed on the ballot as a way to preserve and maintain programs and opportunities that prepare students for college and careers at a time of significant funding losses for the school district.
She says the district’s loss due to the phasing out of the Tangible Personal Property Tax is about $3.5 million per year.
“We’ve lost it gradually since 2008, but this year we receive about $500,000, and next school year we’re projected to receive about $100,000 of that, and the year following it will be gone,” she explains.
In addition, Birney says the district is now capped on the amount of state support it can receive annually.
“The district by their own formula says they should be funding Dover at $11.7 million per year, and we only receive $8.6 million from the state because we’re capped,” she says. “That’s another $3.1 million that the State of Ohio says we should receive but we don’t ."
Birney says the five-year levy would generate approximately $3.57 million annually for the district, which would be used to fund day-to-day operations, improve safety, and ensure that classrooms have the most up-to-date technology.
She notes that the levy is different from the new high school project, which is being funded by a bond levy that cannot be used for day-to-day operating needs such as teachers in the classroom, technology, utilities or transportation.
Treasurer Marsha Scott says the district has been able to stretch its levy cycle for 10 years but has reached a point where additional funding is needed.
“If the November 6 ballot issue is not successful, the district will have to implement changes and reductions to maintain a balanced budget,” she says.
Changes due to be implemented during the 2019-2020 school year in the event that the levy fails include:
“We considered a lot of different items, and what we looked at were ways we could operate more efficiently,” Birney explains. “If the levy fails and we have to live within our means, these are the reductions that will need to be made by the fall of 2019 so that we live within our budget.
She says reconfiguring the elementary schools into grade-level buildings will allow the district to eliminate teaching positions and bring class sizes up in a more equitable manner.
“It allows us to just use our elementary resources more efficiently,” she says. “Grade leveling itself doesn’t save money, but by making a PreK-1 building, a 2-3 building and a 4-5 building, then you can devote your resources to those grade levels in those buildings. It’s financially more efficient.”
Birney notes that pay-to-participate fees and elimination of Senior Citizen passes will both help offset some of the cost of equipment and transporting athletes to away competitions. She says specific participation fees and the cost of Senior Citizen passes will be determined at a later date in the event that the levy is unsuccessful.
Board President Steve Mastin notes that the State of Ohio requires a balanced budget for all schools. He says that should the levy fail in November, the district will have no choice but to take action to ensure that expenses remain in line with revenues.
“This November, our community has a choice about the future of our district. Without additional funding, changes will have to be made that will impact what we are able to offer to our students and families,” he says. “We owe it to the community to let them know what could change and how important this ballot issue is to maintain our schools.”
The district currently spends $8,562 per pupil to educate its students, the lowest in Tuscarawas County and 18 percent below the state average of $10,445. Statewide, Dover is among the 20 percent of public districts with the lowest operating expenditures per pupil.
For more information on the ballot issue, visit www.dovertornadoes.com/UpcomingBallotIssueforDoverCitySchools.aspx