LEWISBURG — Tri-County North Local School District Superintendent Bill Derringer expressed confidence that the TCN community will vote to approve its upcoming renewal levy on May 4.
The 10-year general operations levy will not increase taxes, Derringer said, but instead merely renew a measure that’s been passed consistently by school district residents since 1994. The levy will raise $664,826 per year for the district and not a penny more, according to Derringer.
Unlike other levies, which can increase or decrease in the amount of funds they bring in based on the fluctuating income or property valuation of a district’s residents, the millage of the current levy is adjusted each year in order to always bring in a set amount.
“Normally a district gets more or less based on how many people build homes, or how much people are making,” Derringer said. “But this way if more people build homes, each person pays a little less.”
Derringer stated that the levy will cover general operations costs for the district.
“Everything from lighting bills to diesel fuel for the buses,” Derringer said. “Just the normal operating expenses to be able to maintain a school district.”
Derringer, who has been with the district for 21 years – 15 as Superintendent and a previous six as principal – said that the levy has been renewed multiple times during his tenure.
“Our community has been very supportive in passing our renewals, and we appreciate that and hope that they continue to do that,” Derringer said. “We try to let the community know that we’re not asking for more money, but we need to keep our existing money to support our programs and do the things we hope they’re happy we’re doing.”
Derringer cited the district’s record of keeping students in class during the COVID-19 pandemic as one thing he believes residents should be happy about.
Despite mask and social distancing mandates, several Preble County schools have had to move to remote learning for limited periods since the start of the 2020-21 school year. National Trail High School and Preble Shawnee have each moved to remote instruction for two-week periods, while Twin Valley Community K-4 students went remote from mid-November through the Thanksgiving holiday.
Derringer stressed that despite being prepared to do so, however, TCN has not had to move a large portion of its student body to remote learning.
“We’ve not missed one day due to COVID circumstances; we’ve not had to go virtual at all. We’ve been in the classroom all year long,” Derringer said. “That doesn’t mean we haven’t had to quarantine a lot of our students and a lot of our staff, but we’ve been fortunate that we’ve been able to make it through where we didn’t have to have our kids stay home. We’re pretty happy with that, and from what we’ve heard from the community they’re very happy with that as well.”
Derringer declined to outline what sort of cuts might be necessary if the levy fails to pass.
“In 20 years of doing this, the first time we run a levy I never go on record and say ‘if it doesn’t pass, this is what we’re doing,’” Derringer said. “Regardless of how you coin that, people tend to think those are threats.”
Derringer said that discussions between himself and school board members had not addressed what would happen if the levy fails and hopefully wouldn’t have to do so.
“If it passes, we never have to get into those discussions,” Derringer said.
Derringer urged any school district residents with questions or concerns about the levy to contact the district office at 937-962-2671, saying he’d be more than happy to talk to them, while also expressing gratitude to the community for its support over the years.
“The district is blessed and we’re very fortunate that our taxpayers have always supported us, and we hope they continue to do that on May 4,” Derringer said.
Reach Anthony Baker at 937-683-4057 or on Facebook @mproperenglish