Significant cuts could be in the future for Buckeye Valley schools after voters overwhelmingly voted down a 0.5 percent income tax increase request Tuesday night.
The measure failed by 1,800 votes, or a 65-35 margin, according to final but unofficial election results. The tax hike would have cost a BV household that makes $60,000 a year an extra $300 annually in new taxes, while bringing in $2.3 million a year in new revenue for the district.
The levy’s failure means the school board will soon begin work to identify $1 million in cuts, possibly at its next regularly scheduled meeting on Nov. 15. That could come in the form of cuts to personnel, busing and extracurricular activities, school officials said.
Superintendent Jamie Grube said the community will feel the next round of cuts. In the immediate future, the school board will need to balance a $1.3 million budget deficit for next school year. The school has already made $1.8 million in cuts over the last few years.
“It will be noticed. We have worked hard in the last two rounds of cuts to minimize the impact to kids. But the next round will have an impact on kids and families,” Grube said.
School Board President Mike Bell said he thinks the economy was the “driving factor” behind the levy’s failure.
“We’re disappointed … the economy is bad, and people are feeling that pain, but that doesn’t change the fact that the district has a $1.3 million shortfall next year,” Bell said.
But Tom Kaelber, who was re-elected to the school board Tuesday, thinks that there is more to the levy’s failure than just the economy.
On the campaign trail, he said people told him they are concerned that the school district picks up the 10 percent retirement for school administrators, and not other school employees. Kaelber also said it is bad publicity for the school that Grube still has not moved to Buckeye Valley like he said he would when he was hired 18 months ago.
Residents, especially senior citizens, don’t like that they were asked to pay for a tax increase when Grube was not.
“I think when people like what’s going on, and they’re proud of the district, they want what’s best for their kids, and you have a better chance of passing a levy even if the economy is bad,” Kaelber said. “But we didn’t have a lot of people promoting the levy. I think people want to start seeing proper priorities.”
Kaelber said he thinks if the district makes some cuts, it could get another levy request on the ballot; this one, with a better chance of passing.