CAMDEN — Preble Shawnee Board of Education members voted unanimously to place a .75-percent income tax levy on the ballot in November during a special meeting held Tuesday, July 28.
As discussed during a pair of public hearings held in June, Preble Shawnee Local School District is facing a serious deficit as a result of the failure of two previous levies in April, in addition to costs associated with state-ordered school closures due to COVID-19 and anticipated cuts to education funding announced by Gov. Mike DeWine in May.
The current levy would provide funding for general operations costs for the district. If passed, school district residents would be taxed approximately $.75 for every $100 of income for a period of five years.
Superintendent Dr. Matt Bishop has repeatedly stressed the importance of passing an operations levy, both during school board meetings and in previous conversations with The Register-Herald.
“We’re obviously spending more than we’re taking in,” Bishop said of the school’s financial situation. “In order to continue offering the same programs, we have to increase our revenue, and levies are the only local mechanism we have in order to do that.”
“We’re looking at a reduction in state and tax dollars that’s probably going to be worse than what we had in the Great Recession of ‘08,” Bishop later said in reference to the oncoming deficit. “We’re kind of getting hit on all three sides here.”
The board also recently announced its decision to permanently close West Elkton Intermediate School before the start of the 2020-21 school year, largely to combat the deficit by eliminating approximately $460,000 per year in costs. As a result of the closure, 88 fourth-grade students from West Elkton will be relocated to Camden Primary School in the fall, while 207 fifth and sixth graders will be moved to the Junior and Senior High.
Board members approved two further resolutions during the meeting to reduce labor costs by eliminating a number of positions associated with the West Elkton facility, namely those of three secretaries, four food service workers, two custodians, and one school nurse.
Finally, the board voted to contract with Dayton-based Energy Optimizers, USA to replace a portion of the roof of the Junior and Senior High facility, at a cost not to exceed $200,000. The current roof, according to board documents, is nearly 40 years old and requires maintenance of up to $30,000 each year. Leaks in the roof could also pose a threat to newly installed HVAC, insulation and LED lighting systems.
The next meeting of the Preble Shawnee Board of Education will take place Thursday, Aug. 13, at 6 p.m. in the Board of Education offices located at 124 Bloomfield St. in Camden.
Reach Anthony Baker at 937-683-4057 or on Facebook or Instagram @mproperenglish