B-C-S: Spending cuts, fee hikes ready if Aug. levy fails

By: 
Larry Limpf

News Editor
news@presspublications.com

A combination of program cuts – including reduced busing for students – and fee increases are set to go into effect in the Benton-Carroll-Salem School District where voters will decide a property tax levy in August.
In announcing the cuts and fee hikes, the B-C-S administration and school board noted they have placed tax issues three times on the ballot since May 2018 to try to offset revenue losses of $6 million – about a third of the district’s operating budget – from the devaluation of the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station and loss of reimbursement payments from the state.
Voters approved a property tax that month that generates about $1.4 million annually. But a proposed income tax that would generate about $1.9 million per year has been rejected three times, including last month.
“As a result of our urgent financial situation, we have been forced to make decisions about cuts and increased fees that we have been trying to avoid,” the board and administration said in a notice to the district.
For the 2019-2020 school year, there will be no bus transportation for students in grades nine through 12 if the Aug. 6 levy fails and no busing for students who live within two miles of their schools.
A bus for students attending Penta Career Center will leave from the high school; there will not be home pick-up of Penta students. Residents with questions about changes to bus service are being advised to call the district garage at 419 898-6214.
If the levy fails, other cuts will be made to The Acorn Alley child care program, third grade swimming lessons and The Sampler newsletter. Summer coaching supplemental contracts are being reduced by 25 percent and general fund monies will not be used to cover costs for professional development, clinics and training.
The pay-to-participate fees for athletics will be increased to $75 per sport with a $300 family cap. The current fee is $50 per sport with a family cap of $200 and it will be retained if the levy passes.
Lunch prices are being increased by 20 cents.
The use of B-C-S facilities by adult groups, including the high school track, the noon adult swim and tennis courts is being suspended and may not be restored even if the levy passes.
Effective July 1, there will be a $10 fee per participant for athletic activities not sponsored by the school system, including biddy athletics, travel teams and club teams. The fee will remain in place even if the levy passes but will likely increase if it fails, said superintendent Guy Parmigian.
He said there will also be a fee of $2.44 per mile and $20 per hour charged to the various clubs, parent groups and camp accounts for field and activity trips. Parmigian said the administration is also considering ways to reduce transportation costs such as not sending the marching band to away football games and not sending as many buses to away athletic contests.
Pre-school fees will increase to $160 a month from $130 and fees for high school parking stickers will rise from $10 to $13 per year.

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