xeniagazette.com

School officials await levy fate

By DEBRA GASKILL Special Correspondent editor@xeniagazette.com

November 20, 2013

By DEBRA GASKILL


Special Correspondent


BEAVERCREEK — School officials are holding their collective breath, hoping the narrow margin of victory for a levy that could begin to reverse a series of cuts.


Issue 19, which could potentially raise $10.4 million per year for the district over the next five years, originally won by 26 votes in Greene County voters, 7,952-7,926, but lost in Montgomery County by 55 votes. The total vote showed the levy going down, 8,093-8,122.


When the Tuesday Nov. 19 final count was finished, however, the Greene County margin actually had the levy winning 8,036-7,951. Assuming the Montgomery County numbers don’t change drastically, the levy passes 8,177-8,147, but the margin of victory is a mere 30 votes.


That percentage difference of .11 percent falls within the range for the automatic recount called for in the Ohio election laws, which says anything within one half of one percent calls for the recount.


That narrow margin would spark an automatic recount, according to Ohio law.


“It makes me cautiously optimistic,’ said school board president Al Nels. “We’re certainly hoping our community has elected to support this levy but I’ll feel much, much better after that recount.”


According to the precinct report provided by the Greene County Board of Elections, the levy won in 22 precincts and lost in 23 precincts, sometimes by the smallest of margins.


In one precinct, BVR001, 144 votes were cast for the levy and 140 voted against. In precinct BVR010, the levy the margin was 177 for and 183 against the levy.


In two Montgomery county precincts, the levy lost by 55 votes, with 141 voters voting for the levy and 196 voting against.


Nels said he believes there was a 50 percent turn out in Beavercreek for this particular elections, although county-wide numbers say only 31.6 percent—less than one-third—of all voters turned out.


“One of the most important messages to share is the fact that 15 people voted a different direction the outlook would have been changed,” Nels said. “That points to the importance of the right to vote. We’re very appreciative of our citizens and residents who took time of vote and we hope its in the favor of our school district. (This election shows) when you vote it really matter.”


Nels is also aware of the effects of those votes.


“Its also important to know that everyone who votes is voting on their own tax burden,” he said. “Everybody who had the opportunity to vote would be impacted by their property taxes. They’re all voting for their schools as well as their willingness to finance the many years of excellence that we’ve had.”


If the votes hold in the recount, the levy will cost the owner of a $100,000 home slightly more than $220 a year.


Until this Nov. 5 election, the district has gone back to the voters for additional funding for 10 years, while adding 1,000 students, Nels said, so financial responsibility has always been “a driving force” within the school board meetings.


The Secretary of State office has not yet set the date for the recount.


“In today’s world of electronic voting, unless there’s an issue with a voting machine, I’m again cautiously optimistic that we’ll have a favorable recount,” Nels said.


Llyn McCoy of the Greene County Board of Elections said that the recount should be final within a couple of weeks.


“The recount has to be ordered by the Secretary of State,” McCoy said. “Then we notify the school by certified letter. The Secretary of State usually takes about two days to make the order. It takes a couple of weeks for the recount.”


The last levy, a 6.7-mill emergency-operating levy, was defeated in November 2012 by only 113 votes. The official results had 15,346 votes for the levy, and 15,464 against, following a recount.


Beavercreek Schools have enacted $13 million in cuts and cost saving measures over the last two years, measures that have included reducing salary and wage expenses by 12.5 percent, from $46.3 million to $40.5 million.


The district has also reduced teaching staff by 10 percent, administrative staff by 12 percent, and support staff by 8 percent.


Cuts to staff have totaled 75, equivalent to an entire elementary school staff, according to the district web site.


Busing has been eliminated for all high school students and there have been deep cuts to academic programs.


Pay to play fees now stand at $300 per sport for high school students and $200 per sort for middle school students, with a $750 cap per family.


What cuts could be reversed have yet to be decided, Nels said.


“It … becomes our obligation where we again provide those services for our students and how (we) do (that) most efficiently,” He said. “We’ll have five board members who will be responsible for making that decision. I do know that the people I know who serve on that board are asking how do we provide the best value to our students.”