Meeting called to discuss Bettsville school finances

BETTSVILLE – Bettsville Local Schools has scheduled a community meeting at 7 p.m. Jan. 30 in the school gym to discuss the district’s financial future.

Superintendent Gregg Pettit said the school’s open enrollment numbers have dropped and is causing financial strain for the district.

The purpose of the meeting is to inform the public of the district’s options and allow them to ask questions.

“The board has decided to have the community meeting to inform the community on what options are in the future, as far as some obstacles we are facing financially,” Pettit said.

One obstacle Pettit said was the district’s open enrollment numbers.

“With some of the rule changes at the state level, the state of our open enrollment situation has put some districts in bad financial situations across the state,” he said.

For the 2013-14 school year, the district has had 33 students enrolled and a loss of 63 students. The district’s enrollment numbers are dropping and, with that, Pettit said, so are finances.

The situation is serious and important for the community to be aware of, he said.

“We want to continue to offer outstanding academic programs for our students,” he said.

One big question Pettit is anticipating is whether the district is looking to consolidate with a neighboring district.

In 2013, Bettsville and Old Fort Local Schools entered into an agreement where the schools would share services. Out of the agreement, Bettsville obtained the service of a Spanish teacher, while both districts are sharing the services of their building principals.

“Through the sharing of services with Old Fort, we have been able to share a considerable amount of money,” said Bettsville Treasurer Roger Luhring.

Bettsville also has been able to utilize services from the North Central Ohio Educational Service Center on an as-needed basis, Luhring said.

The district operates with a general fund in the amount of $2.2 million. They also receive state and federal funding, Luhring said.

The district had a 1-percent income tax renewal pass during a special election in May 2013. The renewal has been in effect for the district for the past 15 years or so, Pettit said. The funds generated are for general operating expenses.

“The industry in the community is not what it used to be 20 years ago,” Pettit said.

Being a small district, Pettit said they have been keeping an eye on the situation and the projections coming in.

No further financial information was available Friday night.