Clyde-Green Springs discuss the district levy

Clyde-Green Springs parents and community members joined board members, teachers and administrative staff in the high school cafeteria to hash out what type of levy the district should seek to meet future expenses.

In May, a 10 year, 10 mill emergency levy failed by 150 votes. The board would like to propose a new levy for the Nov. ballot and must take action during the July board meeting.

Treasurer Meghan Rohde stated revenues for the district come from state funding, property and income taxes, school fees, open enrollment, Medicaid, interest on investments and tax abatement payments. Local residents provide 46% of the revenue while the state supplies 55%. The General Fund stands at $25,492,429.

On the expense side, 70% of funds are spent on salary and wages. Medical insurance costs and retirement along with purchased services which include utilities and the school resource officer, supplies and equipment, and the debt service on the 2008 building renovations add to costs. Rohde said that insurance costs rose by 12% last year but the district is in a consortium with six other districts in an attempt to keep costs down.

By 2022, the $6 million in the cash balance would be $0, said Rohde, without passage of a levy. The state wants a district to have at least 60 days of cash on hand.

Rohde, along with Superintendent Dennis Haft, presented levy options to the group of approximately 50 residents. Choices include an emergency property tax levy, a property tax operating levy, an income tax and a new or renewal or replacement levy.

The last levy passed in August 2005 which generated $539,000 annually expires in November 2020. Options for the district would be a property tax, income tax or cut expenses.

A parent questioned whether the district would cut busing for high school students like it did in 2012. Haft stated there is no plan to do that next year but it could be a consideration should a levy not pass.

Leslie Wood stated that one teacher makes more in nine months than some two working person families make in a year. It was stated the district wants to keep good teachers as they compete with neighboring districts. She was concerned about the elderly on a fixed income.

Other questioners were concerned about how much is spent on the sports program and extra-curricular activities. Haft said the district is only allowed to spend half of 1% of the operating levy for those programs. Board member Mike Cleveland noted the booster organizations have helped with many expenses.

The cost of Chromebooks came up for discussion. The district spent $120,000 this year to supply them to 5th and 9th graders. School fees from students help with that cost. At a cost of $275 each, a parent suggested parents buy them but not all families could afford to do that. The district ensures each student receives a Chromebook and is prepared for state testing.

Board President Matt Nicely explained that the 7.5 mill replacement levy passed in 1989 only collects 3.7 mills now. They could ask to pass a 7.5 mill replacement levy again since property values have risen and that is due to having a good school district.

Educating the community on the importance of a levy appeared important and just how to do that. Mailings, events, newspapers, radio and door hangers were all used to inform the public about the last levy.

Disagreement about the type of levy and length of levy continued.

Rohde said finances are on the district website for citizen examination. Those attending were asked to complete a survey to help direct the school board in making a decision.

A special session has been scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday in the board office and the next regular board meeting is to be 6 p.m. July 22 in the Clyde City Council Chambers.