B-C-S Schools: Will spending cuts sway voters?

Larry Limpf

With the Benton-Carroll-Salem School District asking voters to approve a 3.9-mill, 5-year operating levy next month, the district administration is emphasizing the spending cuts totaling in the millions that have already been enacted.
If passed, the Aug. 6 levy would generate about $1.5 million annually. For the owner of property with a market value of $100,000, the 3.9-mill levy would cost about $136 annually.
Voters approved a property tax in 2018 that generates about $1.4 million annually.
Last week, the administration announced it isn’t filling the position of director of administrative services with the resignation of Keith Thorbahn, who is taking a position out-of-state.
Guy Parmigian, superintendent, said the duties of the position will be split among other administrators, including himself and he will assume the duties of maintenance supervisor.
In all, the savings to the district will be more than $100,000 a year, Parmigian said, and over the past seven years staffing cuts and other austerity measures have saved the district millions.
“You have to remember that all of the cuts over the past seven years are on top of $2 million in staffing cuts that were made in 2012, which resulted in the elimination of 40 staff positions across the district. The staff at B-C-S has become accustomed to do more with less and continues to provide exceptional results and opportunities for students. Our staff is truly second to none when it comes to flexibility and innovation,” he said.
In addition, there will be no base pay increases for staff members for the 2019-20 school year, Parmigian said, and the district has reduced retirement benefit payments to administrators, adopted less expensive insurance plans and reduced curriculum related purchases.
While B-C-S voters approved a property tax last year, they’ve rejected a proposed income tax three times.
If the levy doesn’t pass next month, the administration will implement further spending cuts and fee increases that have already been approved by the board of education, including the elimination of bus service for students in grades nine through 12 and no busing for students who live within two miles of their schools.
Revenues losses to the district the past several years have been staggering, Parmigian and the school board have been explaining to residents in informal meetings and on the district Facebook page.
Last year, the Ohio Department of Taxation approved the devaluation of the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Plant, which resulted in an annual loss of about $4.6 million in property taxes to the school district. In 2015, the state began phasing out reimbursement payments to districts to compensate them when public utility tangible personal property taxes were discontinued. When the phase out of the reimbursements is complete in the next 11 years, B-C-S is expected to lose about $4.5 million.



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