West Clermont will have 7.9 mill levy on ballot

West Clermont Local School District will again be asking for voters to approve a levy this November.

Superintendent Dr. Gary Brooks said the district is in need of the funds to avoid having to make even tougher decisions in the future.

“We are virtually at minimum standards for what we need to offer students in the community,” Brooks said. “We need additional operating money.”

Brooks said the last time the district received new operating money from voters was in 2004. He said the district has made millions in cuts in the past six years including reducing staffing to just above the state minimum requirements.

“Essentially we are operating with the same amount of resources for eight years,” Brooks said. “Even to keep up with inflation that is very challenging.”

Brooks said they are asking for voters to approve a 7.9 mill levy this year, which is the same amount voters turned down last year.

“The millage is the same, but the correction is actually less than it would have been had it passed the last election because it is based off of property valuation, and that has dropped,” Brooks said.

Alana Cropper, district treasurer, said the 7.9 mill levy will bring in an estimated $9.8 million to the district and would cost home owners approximately $20 per month for a home valued at $100,000.

Since the levy failed last year with 60.42 percent of voters opposing the levy and 39.58 percent of voters in favor of the levy, Brooks said district officials have opened up communication even more with residents in the district to receive feedback about the direction of the district.

“The board has made a concerted effort to reach out to the community in many ways,” Brooks said.

He said through listening sessions, open work sessions and more, they have received feedback from residents who have and who don’t have school-aged children.

While transportation caused some concerns this past school year when it was reduced to state minimum requirements, Brooks said community members seemed to be most concerned with academic programs that were taken away.

“Restoration of transportation did not surface as top issue,” Brooks said. “What did surface as a major concern was the restoration of music, art, physical education at the elementary level.”

He said restoring kindergarten to half day every day, lowering the pay to play fees for sports and restoring other electives and programs were also major concerns.

Brooks said the economic climate has not changed dramatically in the district, and he knows it is still a challenge to ask residents for additional resources.

He said his message for residents regardless of whether or not they have children in the district remains the same as it has been for years.

“I would say that a continuing trend for all of our operational levies has been that strong schools build strong communities,” Brooks said.

Brooks said without additional funds, West Clermont Local School District will not be the type of community folks will want to live in with a thriving school system.

He said this election will be crucial for West Clermont to determine the future of the district.

“We will continue to look for reductions but it will be difficult to come up with the type of reductions necessary should it fail another year,” Brooks said.