PREBLE COUNTY — Preble Shawnee Local School District Superintendent Dr. Matt Bishop spoke to The Register-Herald about the recent passage of the district’s general operations levy on Tuesday, May 4.
“The sixth time’s the charm,” Bishop said of the five-year, .75-percent income tax levy, which will cost workers in the district less than a dollar for every $100 of income. The levy’s passage represents a significant victory for Shawnee, as the measure has been defeated at the polls repeatedly since 2015, most recently in April and Nov. 2020.
Collections will begin in Jan. 2022, according to Bishop, though the district will not see a full year’s revenue until the following fiscal year. The district expects to collect approximately $300,000 by the end of 2022; normal yearly revenue is expected to reach about $1.3 million.
“Obviously if incomes rise in the district, it might be a little more,” Bishop said, though he indicated it was unlikely that the district would see a “significant” increase.
Funds from the levy will be used exclusively for general operating costs, according to Bishop, as recent renovations are expected to keep Camden Primary School and the Junior and Senior High School building in use for decades.
In addition, the district has reduced operating costs by nearly $1.3 million in the past year by closing West Elkton Intermediate School and eliminating positions for three secretaries, two custodians, four food service workers, and one school resource officer. An assistant principal scheduled to retire after the 2021-22 school year will also not be replaced.
Had the levy failed, additional cuts would have had to be made, including elimination of bussing for grades 9-12 and any student living within two miles of the school. Students in grades 7-12, meanwhile, would have had to pay an annual fee of $400 per sport to participate in athletics.
The levy’s passage will allow the district to continue with its current services, according to Bishop, though any additions to the school’s curriculum will have to be considered with a fiscally responsible eye.
“Right now, in the short term, we’re focused on maintaining what we’re doing, and tweaking things the best we can if there’s some improvements we can make,” Bishop said. “But anything long-term has to be within the revenue that’s projected for us. If we want to make improvements to instruction or to the facility, we have to be very strategic in how we go about it. Decisions that we make have to be thought of in terms of the impact multiple years down the road.”
Bishop expressed gratitude to voters in the district for choosing to support the levy.
“We’re very thankful, and we appreciate the support and the trust that the community has given us,” Bishop said. “And I know, on behalf of the board and the treasurer, that we’re going to do everything we can to spend those tax dollars wisely and efficiently, and that we will be accountable to the voters. At the end of the day I’m happy for the kids and the families that we’re able to provide the same opportunities as the other schools in the county.”
Reach Anthony Baker at 937-683-4057 or on Facebook @mproperenglish