Springfield Local School District officials urge support for needed operating levy
SPRINGFIELD TWP. There is only one issue on the Aug. 4 election ballot in Summit County, but it is a big one for the Springfield Local School District – that is Issue 1, a 7.7-mill levy.
The 10-year operating levy would bring in $3 million to the district per year. The levy would cost less than 70 cents a day or about $21 a month for the owner of a $100,000 home. The 7.7 mills is the amount the district needs to keep current operations – not including the reductions in force that had taken place earlier in the year.
Springfield Superintendent Chuck Sincere said the decision for the levy came prior to schools in Ohio being shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Early in the year, the Board of Education made $760,000 in budget cuts to satisfy the Ohio Department of Education.
Sincere explained that school finances work on a five-year forecast and that Springfield’s forecast showed the need of more additional operating money. He said the Board had put they levy off as long as possible and it has been more than 20 years since the district has received new operating money.
The district originally was looking into a 9-mill levy, but made some cuts so that they could lower the millage and decided to place it on the August ballot.
On top of the cuts that had already been made earlier in the year, more cuts in the way of reduction of force were approved by board members at a special Board of Education meeting held on May 26. The reduction in force was necessary because of the loss of $477,000 in losses of state funding due to COVID-19.
Treasurer Chris Adams said at the May 26 meeting that it was not just what the state reduced this year, but also further state funding reductions next year.
Sincere said schools are in the service industry and the Springfield Local Schools needs the revenue the 7.7 mill levy would provide to continue to provide its services. He said officials try to provide as many opportunities for students as possible, but once the money runs out, the district has to make cuts. Sincere said forcing to make cuts effects the quality of education the district can provide.
“Some kids go into the world of work, post-secondary education, or military,” Sincere said. “The best way to prepare the students is to provide the options and services needed. The schools offer more services than ever before and the students need the services to be competitive.
“I know it is a difficult time, but what can we do? It makes it a very difficult situation. This just happened in a COVID-19 time. We wish we didn’t have to do this. We need new money to operate,” Sincere added.
Sincere said the district can’t use money from other funds such as maintenance funds for operating funds, and money set aside for certain schools can’t be used for other buildings.
The district operates on five, five-year renewal levies and there has been no new money coming in for more than 20 years. Sincere said the district narrowed the millage down the best it could.
“We had to whittle it down as far as we could,” he said.
Sincere said this is his 29th year with the district and there has never been a time with so much uncertainty.
“Good schools and good communities go hand in hand. You can’t have one without the other,” he said.
On July 17, a letter was sent out to parents about the reopening of schools for the 2020-21 year. At this time, it is planned that the district will open schools on Aug. 24 to provide as much normalcy as possible.
They will open with the guidance from Summit County Health Department and the Ohio Department of Education.
Families will have the option of keeping their children home for online instruction as there have been requests made for that option. The online classes will be taught by Springfield teachers and expectations will parallel what is going on in the classroom. Live lessons will be part of the process for students to login on a daily basis.
More information will be available as the month continues.