Nov. 18 – Following a second straight tax levy loss, Ross School officials said Thursday night that the coming weeks will see them begin discussions about budget cuts in the top-performing college district. of Butler County.
And the district’s chief financial officer also told the Ross board at its meeting that it faces an impending budget shortfall starting in 2025 and worsening in subsequent years if no new local tax revenue can be raised. generated.
Another tax levy could be directed towards the May ballot, but its final size has not been determined, officials said.
Add to these challenges the upcoming partial state takeover of some of Ross’ financial operations — due to drawdown vote losses in August and earlier this month — and the school system is entering an unprecedented period in 2023.
The takeaway, said Ross’ acting treasurer Jenni Logan, is that major decisions will have to be made soon.
And some school residents said they are worried about the future of the Ross Schools as well.
“The main message is that we are in a financial crisis,” Logan said.
“We failed our levies and we are now looking at next steps. And we are going to have a condensed timeline to look at those next steps and options,” adding that if the Ross Board of Education decides to ask voters in May for another vote on a tax hike, the deadline for filing this ballot is February 1.
Logan presented the state-mandated five-year budget projection to the school board during the board meeting. Under Ohio law, the state begins to play a supervisory role regarding financial decisions if a local district is unable to raise school taxes via ballot.
“In 2025, we are showing a (budget) deficit. Due to this deficit in the third year (of the five-year projection), we are in a state of precaution (of state),” she told About the first of four status categories for the process. of intercession and increased takeover of school operations by state education officials.
“Over the next few months, we’ll be looking at things in more detail,” Logan said of the range of possible staffing programs and budget cuts, some of which have already been made public by the district.
Among the cuts being considered so far include cuts to some bus services, fewer advanced college courses and the elimination of art, music and physical education classes, district officials said.
Ross Superintendent Chad Konkle said the district has used many methods through the district’s website and other means to notify residents of the district’s financial difficulties since last year.
“As we all know, school funding is a very complicated subject and we are trying to simplify it,” said Konkle, who added that from now on it looks like Ross residents will decide on another proposal to increase the property tax during the May election.
Ross School resident Penny Webster voted “yes” in the last two swabs and expressed concern for the district’s future.
Webster said Ross had overcome financial difficulties over the past few years, but she was more worried this time around, in part because of the country’s high rate of inflation and the impact on all families.
“It’s a very difficult mountain to climb and we’re going to have to come up with a new strategy” to convince voters to raise their school taxes, she said.
Tammi Almond, a parent at the school, shares those concerns and said further rejections at the ballot of higher school taxes “will only hurt the children in the long run”.
“I just think about what could happen to schools, teachers and staff. Ross is a really good school district…my concern is really high right now,” Almond said.