BSSD identifies cuts after levy failure


BELLBROOK-SUGARCREEK — Following the failure of the May 7 ballot issue, the Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Schools Board of Education has begun identifying cuts and reductions that the district will have to make.

“Cuts hurt. Although identifying cuts and reductions to an already lean budget is not a place that we ever wanted to be, the community spoke and we are moving forward with implementing district-wide cuts and reductions,” said Superintendent Douglas Cozad.

The first phase of cuts will entail approximately $813,000 of cuts and will be effective with this school year. These cuts will be permanent. The second phase of cuts will be announced this fall and will be effective in the following school year.

“We know these will be difficult for everyone, which is why the board is announcing these as soon as possible so that families have time to plan and prepare,” said Cozad. “We want to be as open and transparent about what we are facing and as to how our schools are affected. Much like one’s home finances, we simply cannot fund what we cannot afford.”

After deliberation and input from the district’s leadership team, the board said they identified the first phase of cuts and authorized officials to move forward with reductions to teaching and staff positions; cuts to transportation staff and reduction in bus routes; reduction of building, technology and athletics budgets; and the decision to not purchase new school buses to replace older buses.

“Due to the cuts in transportation, there will be adjustments to all start and end times at all buildings and we may be changing the pickup and drop-off patterns at some of our schools because we expect that more parents will be driving their children to school,” continued Cozad. “The administration is working on a new plan for that but safety comes first and we will all have to be patient with the changes.”

Cozad said the school’s website will post updated information:

“At some point we will need to return to Bellbrook-Sugarcreek voters,” said Liz Betz, board president. “We cannot continue cutting and reducing our budget while expecting that things will remain unchanged or that the quality of education and services will be unaffected.”

Over the years, the district has seen inflationary increases that are outside the district’s control that include unfunded and underfunded mandates in addition to the increase in the cost of doing business, school officials said, adding “plus our funding from the state has been generally flat-lined.”

Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Schools receives 27 percent of its funding from the state of Ohio. The state average is 44 percent. The schools spends about $377 less per student than the state average, officials reported.

“If we have learned anything it is that, even though we will continue to voice our concerns to our legislators about the inadequacy of the state funding system, we cannot count on Columbus. The best way to support the quality schools that we currently have is with our local tax dollars” continued Betz. “This is why community support at the ballot is so critical. And while it is too soon to discuss a future operating levy, it is clear that the need does not go away with a levy loss; it is only intensified.”

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