SPRINGFIELD TWP. The Springfield Local Schools Board of Education met May 19 and discussed the financial future of the district in the wake of pending imposed cuts by the state.
Board members said they have been receiving a couple of hundred letters each, phone calls and texts due to the fact students and parents are anticipating cuts will come to sports, musi and art programs.
Treasurer Chris Adams said this has been the roughest couple of months in his career as a school treasurer.
“This came our of nowhere,” he said.
Adams said officials knew the district needed a levy and had already established one for the August ballot. It will be the first time the district has asked for new operating money in 20 years. Although Adams was worried about the budget, it looked like the district could make it until the collection of new levy monies in 2021. Now, since school districts across Ohio have been hit with a reduction in state monies due to COVID-19, Springfield is estimated at taking a $1.5 million hit.
The statewide education cut is $300 million.
Adams said nobody knows what is going to happen next school year as far as whether classes will be held in the buildings; if there will be part-time classes dividing kids into morning and afternoon or alternating days of the week; if they will continue online classes; or it will be back to normal.
The second decline in income for schools is a loss in real estate taxes.
“I was expecting a bump up and now I expect it to go down,” said Adams.
The third problem financially for the district is health insurance. The schools are self-insured and, Adams said, it has not been a good year. The district has had more than $1 million in medical bills.
No one wants to cut jobs and the board and administrators are taking a close look at the finances and what can be done.
“We are going to try our hardest,” Adams said “We hope to work with union leadership. I honestly believe we will get through this but there will be pain with it.”
He spoke about the fact that there is a movement in the government that if there is another stimulus that focuses in local governments, the district might get some help.
“Say a prayer if you can,” said Adams. “If you have questions, my door is always open. Facts matter. If something sounds crazy it is probably a rumor. Our books are always open.”
The board is under deadlines to make decisions and they went into executive session to continue discussions to put a plan in place. They all agreed they were going to do what was best for the kids. Board Member Mary Lou Dodson said they all have the kids in their hearts, and they are going to strive to take care of them.
Board member Chad Lance said they were under a deadline and they understand the majority of concerns they received from the community were passionate about the programs, art, music, sports etc.
“We are going to have lengthy discussions of what we are going to do. It will be tough, but we will get through it and be better on the other side,” said Lance.
Board member Neal Hess said he has never received so many emails. It was evident they loved band, art, choir, sports, etc. He encouraged residents to write an email to Ohio Rep. Anthony DeVitis.
“Ask him to do something. If we are quiet about this, they will do nothing,” he Hess said, noting residents can also email Ohio Sen. Vernon Sykes.
Superintendent Chuck Sincere said at the first of the year, it was expected the district would be at a $760,00 deficit over the next two years.
“We put together a reduction list of $800,000 in March and COVID hit and the schools were closed,” he said. “We have to prepare for the worse. We are working, we are coming up with a plan and we will make things happen and get through this difficult time.”
In other business:
• The Board accepted and approved personnel items that included the retirement resignations of classified employees Don Hill, Tracy Hill, Bud Grimsley and Darlene Conner. Sincere honored each one speaking about their years of service.
• The board approved the list of 2020 graduates.
• Approved a service agreement with Total Education Solutions (TES) from June 1 to June 1, 2021, to provide supervision, special education services and related services in accordance with the requirements of the Ohio Department of Education for a Springfield student.
• Approved a day treatment purchase service agreement with KRG Education Services to provide education services in accordance with placement at the Leap Program for the 2020-21 school year.
• Approved a Memorandum of Understanding with Springfield Local Association of Classroom Teachers regarding completion of teacher evaluations for the 2019-20 school year in accordance with House Bill 197.
• Approved an electronic video security system contract with Diligent Electronic Security Systems for the new transportation depot.
• The Board deemed transportation for the summer extended school year (ESY) program to be unreasonable, uneconomical and impractical under present conditions.
• A graduation ceremony will be held at 7 p.m. May 29 on Springfield YouTube Channel at www.youtube.com/channel/UC7aCNrXoQX4ldSaJDXhscVg.
The next regular board meeting will be held at 6 p.m., June 16 through ZOOM and viewable through the District YouTube Channel.