Springfield Board of Education withdraws levy from May ballot - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

Springfield Board of Education withdraws levy from May ballot

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The Springfield School District Board of Education has decided to withdraw its levy request from the May Ballot.

In a news release the district explained that an "intense review" of the Springfield Local School District's five-year financial projections, concluded in February that to deal with budget deficit concerns the Springfield Board of Education would ask voters to approve a 3.9 mil operating levy this May.

The news release states, "In addition to decreased revenues, factors such as the costs associated with Ohio's achievement testing which have shifted almost entirely to individual districts, the increased need to purchase new and update existing technology, changes in funding formulas and revenue sources to educate students with special needs, wage and health care benefits contained within negotiated personnel contracts, and a fluctuating number of students provided the Board of Education few options but to withdraw the levy from the ballot. "

It goes on to say that officials now have a more complete snapshot of the financial outlook and will explore "all avenues" and take action later this year to seek voter support that will empower the district to provide an exceptional education.

The verbatim of the news release is below:

As many taxpayers are aware, Lucas County has repeatedly suffered devaluations in commercial, industrial, and residential properties – the impact of which has been especially devastating not only those trying to sell properties, but on school districts as well.

During the 1970's property values were increasing at a very high rate. In 1976 the Ohio Legislature enacted House Bill 920. This bill effectively freezes all voted real estate millage at the dollar amount collected the first year the millage went into effect. As property values rise through reappraisal or triennial update, the millage is reduced. Conversely, as property values fall, the millage may increase. In simple terms, the amount of money a school district collects from a levy does not increase as property values increase. However, the collection amount can fall as the property values decline in the whole taxing district.

An intense review of the Springfield Local School District's five-year financial projections, concluded at the end of February, 2014 by Interim Treasurer Pam Barber and Assistant Treasurer Mindy Ward, identified for the district additional concerns and budget deficits caused by flat revenues, increases in health care costs and a new host of unfunded state educational mandates not available when the Springfield Board of Education took action to ask voters in May to approve a 3.9 mil operating levy.  "Our community elected each of us to be strong stewards of their tax dollars. After the previous treasurer resigned in December, 2013 we used the opportunity to have Pam and Mindy conduct an audit of all district financial operations and their findings were very troubling," offered Springfield Board of Education President Mrs. Koback.

The decision to seek voter approval in May, according to Mrs. Koback, had to be made using the best available information. Mrs. Koback continued, "Each month at our General Session meetings, the treasurer is asked to report on both the district's financial performance as it relates to our budget.  In addition, we further require projections on variances in expenditures and revenues.  In early February, we began to question prior projections.  As we processed Pam and Mindy's findings, it became clear that we could not ask the community to approve a 3.9 mil levy request that would not stabilize the district's financial operations." 

In addition to decreased revenues, factors such as the costs associated with Ohio's achievement testing which have shifted almost entirely to individual districts, the increased need to purchase new and update existing technology, changes in funding formulas and revenue sources to educate students with special needs, wage and health care benefits contained within negotiated personnel contracts, and a fluctuating  number of students provided the Board of Education few options but to withdraw the levy from the ballot.  "We believe that we now have a more complete snapshot of the district's financial outlook.  With the assistance of our administrators, staff and community, we will explore all avenues to further reduce costs and take action later this year to seek voter support of an operating levy that truly will empower the district to provide an exceptional education for today's learners and tomorrow's leaders," concluded Mrs. Koback. 

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