Also, the superintendent’s search is coming to an end
LAKEMORE — More cuts are coming to local Springfield schools in an effort to avoid being placed in the state’s fiscal emergency category.
The Ohio State Auditor’s Office placed Springfield Schools in its fiscally cautious category in October 2020, then under Fiscal Watch on September 14, 2021, after the district’s five-year forecast showed deficits. To stay out of the budget emergency, the district should produce a forecast with no negative balance.
The Springfield Local Schools Board voted unanimously Feb. 15 to approve just over $1.1 million in staff and bus cuts for the 2022-23 school year after discussion in executive session . The reductions are intended to eliminate negative year-end balances and stabilize the district’s forecast.
The cuts include the elimination of: two classified employees; a half-day preschool teacher’s aide and a one-day-a-week preschool teacher’s aide; a full-time specialist educator in elementary school and a part-time specialist educator in preschool; and one teacher each in art, music, gifted social studies, and junior high, as well as seven kindergarten through sixth grade teachers.
Board member Terry Miranda questioned the cuts.
“It’s hard to vote on something when it’s always about teachers,” Terry said. “It is difficult to continue to take children without taking from the top.”
Board Chairman Larry Petry responded, noting that “all of this is necessary to put our budget in the dark.”
After further discussion, the board met in executive session for 15 minutes to discuss the matter and then approved the proposal without further discussion.
The board also approved a move to state minimum bus transportation, which provides transportation only for kindergarten through eighth graders who live more than 2 miles from their school. This decision eliminated three bus lines, one of which currently has no driver.
“This is not a decision we took lightly,” said Chief Commercial Officer Dustin Boswell.
Acting Superintendent William Stauffer said the cuts would save the district about $1,159,000 and come on top of the $4 million in cuts made last year. He added that the cuts are part of the district’s stimulus plan, required by the state to stay out of the fiscal emergency.
“It’s not something we enjoy; it’s not something we want to do; it’s something we have to do,” he said of the cuts.
Stauffer said the cuts are necessary, along with the additional revenue generated by a new $3.9 million levy slated for the May 3 primary election ballot to keep the district out of the budget emergency. He noted that the district has not seen new revenue in 22 years.
“I am convinced that we will adopt this levy,” he said. “We need this extra income for our children.”
Treasurer Chris Adams outlined the impact of the cuts and royalty on a revised five-year forecast, noting that the royalty would bring in nearly $1.8 million a year and cost the property owner $138.70 a year. a $100,000 property. He also said the district will end this school year in the black with $108,000 and produce positive balances for the remaining four years in the forecast.
“This reduction and the levy will provide five years of [financial] stability in the district,” he said. “Hopefully we can bring some programs back as well.”
Adams also presented a table of tax rates for 18 area schools showing that property owners in the district are currently taxed at a rate that puts them third lowest on the list.
“This community will never see a more affordable levy,” Adams said.
In other matters, the council approved the submission of a motion to the Summit County Court of Common Pleas to approve the transfer of funds from the district’s building fund to its general fund. If successful, the transfer would move $1,251,955 to the general fund, making the money usable for general operations. Adams added that the courts could instead require the funds to be transferred to the Permanent Improvement Fund, which has more limited uses.
The board also accepted a $1,000 donation from the Victoria Fields family to the high school girls’ golf team and approved a number of additional contracts for spring sports and the hiring of a number of part-time employees.
During the superintendent’s report, Stauffer announced that the search for a permanent superintendent was progressing “rapidly” and that a new superintendent contract was coming “in the near future”.
The board moved into executive session to consider an audit conference and to discuss matters that must be kept confidential under federal or state law. No action was subsequently taken.
The next meeting of the Springfield Local Schools Board of Education will be held March 15 at 6 p.m. at Springfield Middle and High School, located at 1800 Canton Road.
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