Why is this levy needed? What would levy funds pay for?
Put simply – this levy is needed to provide the funding we need to meet our schools’ day-to-day operating costs, and to protect our excellent quality of education. Currently, our annual budget is projected to be “in the red” in 2020, and we will be out of funding reserves by 2022. These levy funds would be used for educational essentials – like retaining and attracting quality teachers and staff, ensuring textbooks and technology is up-to-date, and keeping our bus fleet safe.
How did we get “in the red” starting in 2020? What does that mean?
We are “in the red” next year because we simply will be receiving less cash (revenue) than what we anticipate spending (expenditures). State funding has dropped over the last 10 years, and accounts for over 50% of our revenue. School districts are legally prohibited from operating “in the red” – meaning that we either have to increase our revenue, or make damaging cuts.
How does our revenue compare to other districts?
We are near the bottom. We think about this in terms of how much revenue we have per student. We are in the bottom 3% of all districts in Ohio. Only 16 districts in the entire state generate less funding per student than we do – while 590 generate more. We only have control over the ‘local’ portion of our revenue, which is just 38% of our revenue.
Can we reduce our expenditures to overcome this?
Louisville City Schools have operated on a very tight margin for years – creating a culture that keeps us incredibly lean and efficient as a district. The proof is clear when we compare ourselves to other schools across the State. When it comes to how much we spend (per student), LCS is already in the bottom 5% of all districts in Ohio. This means that we already spend less per student than 95% of all other schools in Ohio.
What’s our annual district budget? What is our ‘funding reserve’?
Currently, our district’s budget is about $26 million per year. The funding reserve is how much we have ‘in the bank’ compared to our annual budget. We have roughly $5 million ‘banked’ – which is about a 20% funding reserve. We have the 2nd lowest funding reserve in Stark County, between Alliance (25%) and Canton City (14%).
What is Issue 17’s millage, and how much will it cost?
Issue 17 is a 5-year, emergency operating levy for 6.9 mills. It would generate $2.81 million annually and cost about $20/month per $100,000 of property value.
Why did we purchase the Rollatorium if LCS needs money?
We did this while thinking about the District needs now and in the future. The property itself is about 7 acres, and immediately adjacent to Louisville Middle School. District leaders are excited about the potential future uses that could impact students. These could possibly include indoor practice and workout facilities (which we lack, and currently rent in Canton, Massillon, and Alliance) and additional storage space – but no decisions about the property have been finalized.
Did the Rollatorium purchase impact our ‘bottom line’?
No. In July, we purchased the former Rollatorium at Sheriff’s Auction at an incredible deal, less than 10% of the property’s estimated value, or about $52,000 (net). This is only about 3% of our annual ‘capital outlay’ ($651,000). For better context, this purchase was just two-hundredths of 1% of our annual budget – or 0.02% of our annual expenditures. For comparison sake – our five-year forecast anticipates a $329,000 surplus this year, meaning this purchase bring us to a $277,000 surplus. We will still face a $635k deficit in 2020, a $2.4M deficit in 2021, a $3.3M deficit in 2022, and a $4.3M deficit in 2023.
Is this because of the teacher’s strike in 2016?
No. If anything, we have all come together to stress how important this levy is to our students and families. We are proud of our work – as staff, administrators, parents, and community – in creating a new district mission and vision. We cannot sustain this vision of “Empowering Students + Engaged Community = Endless Possibilities” without high-quality staff and sufficient funding from our stakeholders and taxpayers. Like any school district, or service-industry business, our biggest expenditure will always be our dedicated staff members. To retain our excellence, we must remain competitive in the market for high-quality teachers and staff.
What happens it the levy passes/doesn’t pass?
If voters approve the levy, our district will have the funds it needs to continue providing the excellent quality of education we have worked so hard to achieve. If the levy fails, the School Board and Administration team will be forced to find ways to cut the budget. We are likely to lose staff members, class sizes will certainly go up, and our academic and extra-curricular programs will necessarily be scaled back.
When is the Election? When is the Voter Registration Deadline?
Election Day is November 5th, 2019. The Voter Registration Deadline is October 7th. You can Vote Early in-person at the Stark County Board of Elections, or Vote-by-Mail beginning on October 8th. Find more information at: vote.org/state/Ohio.