Finances, levy discussed at Springfield Board of Education meeting

Carolynn Mostyn
Suburbanite correspondent

SPRINGFIELD TWP.  With a crucial levy on the ballot, school finances was the hot topic during the Springfield Local Schools Board of Education meeting on Oct. 20.

With a 7.7-mill, 10-year levy on the Nov. 3 ballot, school officials said it was imperative for it to pass to keep children receiving the benefit of preparation for their futures.

“Passing the levy is imperative," said Treasurer Chris Adams. "Our families and community cannot afford failing a levy. But most importantly, our students cannot afford a failing levy. Good schools are a good value. Students need our support.”

Adams said the five-year forecast will be at updated at the November meeting as it has been pushed out a month. That forecast could be dramatically differ depending on the results of next week's levy. He thanked all the residents that put forth the effort regarding the levy.

“I’m a firm believer that the treasurer and the superintendent really can’t lead the charge when it comes to levies," Adams said. "It has to be affected by individuals like the parents. This levy has a really different tone, which really made me feel good.”

Adams said if residents want to continue with the rich history, Springfield voters have to provide for the children and that the levy is necessary to continue the academics and all the other facets that go along with it.

“Think about the choice you have to make," he said. "This year and next year will be tight even with the levy, but moving forward there will be some cash reserves and hopefully, we will get some help from the state which will make it even better." 

The district was already in fiscal caution with the state before seeing funding cuts due to the pandemic. Springfield has not had an operating levy increase in 20 years.

“It is not a good position we are in right now," Adams said. "Twenty years is a long time to make it without a levy. We looked at all the schools in the area with regards to school millage and we were one of the lowest.”

Adams, who also is treasurer for Mogadore Local Schools, said Mogadore has passed four levies since Springfield’s last one.

Issue 41

Business Manager Dustin Boswell spoke about Issue 41, which is also on the ballot. It is a 1.8-mill permanent improvement renewal levy that was first passed in 1986. It brings in $280,000 to be used to fund projects for repairs to buildings, parking lots and all facilities.

It is a renewal and the cost for a home valued at $100,000 is $5.20 a month. The funds can only be used for the maintenance of the schools and cannot be used for salaries or day to day operations.

“Without the permanent improvement renewal levy, the funds would have to come out of general fund leaving even less dollars for educational programs,” Boswell said.

This renewal levy is used for Schrop, Young, the Administration Building and Spring Hill. The Junior/Senior High School has a 0.5-mill permanent improvement levy that was a part of the bond issue that was passed to build the new school building.

Superintendent Chuck Sincere spoke about the upcoming levies and explained why it is important that everyone understands the rational for the levies. Two are renewals and then the 7.7-mill, 10-year levy that will generate $3 million annually. The new levy will be an increase of less than $23 a month for a home valued at $100,000.

“Its passage will help our district continue to offer each of our students the types of classes they need to be competitive in the world of work," Sincere said. "We are teaching tomorrow’s leaders today and Springfield graduates have the skills to compete at the next level.”

Sincere said they are able to prepare the students by offering classes and programs that equip the students for colleges and careers.

“Failure to pass the levy will have a negative impact on curricular and extracurricular offerings such as art, music and much of the athletic program,” he said.

Sincere said that without the levy they will close Young Elementary School and reduce the hours the buildings are open after school.

Other actions:

• Melinda Hamilton, a 35-year resident and president of OPSE 530 which represents the school bus drivers, monitors and mechanics, spoke about questions that came up about the building that was recently built to replace the rented bus garage. Parents wanted to know if they really had port-a-potties in the former building. She said the answer was yes. They now have running water where they can wash their hands as opposed to the rented building.

Hamilton said ceiling tiles fell on top of bus drivers. She said the parking lot was a hazard for their cars, buses and drivers.

“We have lights in the parking lot now,” she said. "We are thankful that we have a facility that we know now is safe, healthy for us, if people only knew what we went through. We want the community to know that yes, the garage was a necessity, and it will pay for itself. We need to support our children.”

• Resident Miranda Terry said she thought people would show up with questions for the board about the levy.

“This community needs this levy," she said. "Every single kid in this district will suffer.”

She said that people that had questions should have been at the meeting. 

In other action, the Board:

• Approved agreements with Springfield Township and the Village of Lakemore to provide both entities with controlled, non-exclusive access to the district fuel station for the purpose of refueling township and village vehicles. Board member Neal Hess said, “Partnering with our local communities to help them save money is important.”

Board member Chad Lance reported he saw a Springfield Police cruiser fueling a cruiser at the station. He said each person that would be fueling a township or village vehicle has their own code to get into the station and to use the fuel. It saves a lot of time for the bus drivers and is a good process.

• Approved a Title I Non-Public Program Agreement with Waterloo Local Schools to provide Title I services to residents of Springfield Local Schools who attend St. Joseph School, which is within the Waterloo Local School District.

• Approved a memorandum of understanding with the Coventry Local School District to provide Title I services to residents of Springfield Local Schools who attend St. Francis School, which is within the Coventry Local School District.

• Approved a resolution requesting that the Springfield Local School District receive its share of funds from the County of Summit Public School Re-Opening Grant Program and creating a special revenue fund to deposit funds. The county grant was for $227,000, $100 per student to help the cost of preventing the virus. Sincere thanked Summit County for designating public schools for helping with the cost of COVID supplies.

• Approved donations from Newell Brands - Rubbermaid of totes/tubs for the use of personal belongings for students so they are not sharing lockers at Young Elementary valued at $500. Walmart on Arlington Road donated nine pallets of school supplies with an estimated value of at least $10,000. The items were distributed among the district's four buildings. 

• Heard from Boswell who spoke about school safety and said the district wide safety committee will be meeting in November to review and update the emergency operations plan. He said the district has always had a team but the state is working to formalize teams, so everyone is doing it the same. The buildings will be assessed for vulnerabilities, testing systems and more. There will also be a behavioral side to the program. A team will be available 24/7 if a situation should arise with a student. They will work to prevent situations. It will be five to eight members of the school, safety forces and mental health professionals.

The next board meeting will be at 6 p.m., Nov. 17 at the high school.