ELIDA — A decline in revenue from various sources has led to desperate times for Elida schools and officials hope voters realize a levy on the Nov. 5 ballot is needed.
School officials have placed a 5.45 mill additional levy for five years on the ballot hoping to raise nearly $2 million per year. It would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $191 annually.
“We’re just trying to replace some of the lost revenue related to the $1.2 million of inventory tax that we lost,” said Joel Parker, the treasurer for Elida schools.
The money generated, if passed, would go to general operating expenses in the district that has an enrollment of about 2,580 pupils. The district has run a deficit for the past four years because of cuts in revenue.
There were no pay raises this year and teachers only received step increases in the past three years, not raises on their base salaries, Parker said.
The district also has closed a building and cut 43 staff positions in the past decade to deal with declining revenue, Parker said.
“We are at that point where anything else we’re cutting, we’re trimming muscle not fat,” Parker said.
Officials do not want to cut programs, he said.
“We cannot continue to go down that path by dropping opportunities. We have sent students to Harvard and Brown and we want to be able to continue to offer our students that opportunity in our district,” Parker said.
Parker said Elida schools provides a quality education for a good value.
“We are one of the most cost-effective schools in the state,” he said.
Besides the cuts in revenue, Parker said the district is struggling to keep up with inflation, such as the cost of diesel fuel for buses, paper cost and health insurance for employees.
While Elida officials ask for more money, six people have jumped into the race to be the next three members of the school board. All believe they have the answers and experience to guide Elida through the troubled times. All expressed concern on whether the current board and school administrators have the support of parents in the district.
Jason Bowers, a 1993 graduate of Elida with four daughters in the district, said there is a lack of trust of the current board and the administration. He said his first priority would be to improve communication with the public.
Ohio Northern University pharmacy professor Jeff Christoff said he has proven leadership through several organizations he has served on in his profession. Christoff said he would work to explain to taxpayers why additional tax revenue is needed to ensure a quality education for all Elida pupils.
Jonathan Nichols said he has leadership qualities he will use on the board. He said a top priority is improving communications and finding an effective way to relay information to people in the district. He said he wants to rebuild the trust that has led to poor communication.
Pat Schymanski said he will work to adapt and review policies to address the changing times. He said the district needs to compete for new students by highlighting its cost-effectiveness to the voting public while communicating all successes to the public.
Christine Ulrich is a nurse who has served on several boards associated with her profession and has been active in legislative services and policymaking at the state level. She said improvements can be made to increase transparency and move forward to focusing on what is important the education of students.
Current school board President, Dennis Fricke, is asking voters to keep him. Fricke said he will keep pushing state government leaders to find a way to properly fund public education in Ohio. He also said making sure Elida schools provides a high-quality education will be a top priority.