Ayersville school board

Ayersville school board member David Kern addresses the crowd at the Ayersville Local Board of Education meeting Monday evening at Ayersville High School, while board vice president Char Ondrus looks on. Kern told the crowd that it was imperative for the community to pass a levy the board will be placing on the March ballot for operating expenses of the district.

AYERSVILLE — A resolution declaring it necessary to put a two-year 0.75% income tax levy on the ballot for the March primary election was approved by the Ayersville Local Board of Education Monday.

The members went into executive session for 41 minutes at the start of the meeting, including newly elected board members Shelby Martinez and Daniel Frederick (who will be sworn in at the January meeting) to discuss personnel, but took no action following executive session.

CFO/treasurer Abby Sharp discussed the resolution declaring it necessary to put a 0.75% income tax levy on the March primary election ballot. Sharp shared this was the first of two resolutions to have the levy placed on the ballot. This first resolution declares how much money we need (in this case, 0.75% would generate $678,805), before we send it off to the Ohio Department of Taxation.

“The second resolution will approve the percentage (there was discussion about declaring for a 1% income tax levy that would generate $913,000), and the ballot language in order to go on in March,” added Sharp. “We will need to have this done by the Dec. 6 deadline, which will necessitate the need for a special meeting to approve the second resolution by the deadline.”

Superintendent Don Diglia told everyone in attendance that he and the board discussed different staffing scenarios, with the district looking at a deficit spending of $1.1 million this fiscal year (see related story). He said whether or not a 1% or 0.75% income tax levy is passed in March, there will still be staff cuts.

“When you’re looking at the deficit spending we’re projecting, there are still going to be cuts,” said Diglia. “It will be a real hard pill to swallow if something doesn’t pass. There would be cuts across the board at every grade level, it would affect co-curricular and extra-curricular activities, any and every segment of what we do in this building would be affected (to make up a $1,000,000 spending shortfall) by the failure of a levy.

“We’re fortunate we have one more attempt to pass this in the spring, but we have to go out into the community and share with them a list of items that would be cut (with a levy passage), that would just decimate our school district,” continued Diglia. “We have to show to them the importance of a new levy request. Again, there will be still cuts if a levy passes, and we want to reiterate that we have been making cuts these past few years through attrition.”

School board member David Kern gave an impassioned plea to everyone in attendance about the importance of passing a levy in March.

“I just want to say to everyone, it’s imperative that it (the income tax levy) passes,” said Kern. “If we want our students to get the quality of education they get now, and the experience they have when they come to Ayersville, it has to pass. It can’t fail, otherwise this district is going to look very different after March. I don’t think anyone wants that.

“This community showed it cared when it invested in a new building, and we need the community to understand that we’re not asking for money because we mishandled funds, and it’s not because of the new building. The new building has nothing to do with it. If the new building hadn’t been built, we’d still be coming to you with a levy because of money the district has lost from taxes and the state. Our entire community will suffer if this fails.”

Diglia shared the reason the new levy would be for two years, is the timing when it would be collected (January of 2021), and the hope that House Bill 305 (the Fair School Funding bill) would pass and bring new revenue not only to Ayersville, but to districts across the state.

Community member Burdette Cooper asked Diglia and the board about the student-teacher ratio in the district, to which Diglia replied “16:1,” however, when Cooper asked what the average ratio for comparable districts in the state, no one could provide the answer. He also asked if any of the board members had gone out into the community following the defeat of the levy on Nov. 5, to which Kern shared he had answered questions on Facebook and in person.

Following the discussion, the board agreed to host a special meeting Dec. 4 at 5 p.m. In addition to approving the second resolution for the levy, two public lists of cuts in the district will be presented ... one if the levy passes in the March, and one if it doesn’t.

“Again, if the voters approve the 0.75% income tax levy in March, we will still need to make about $300,000 in cuts over the next two years,” reiterated Diglia. “If it fails, we will need to make about $1 million in cuts.”

The board unanimously approved the first resolution to put a levy on the March ballot.

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