Bay school district nears end of levy cycle
The Bay Village City School District held its annual State of the Schools event at the Board of Education office on April 7. The theme of the presentation was “fiscal responsibility” as the district approaches the limit of how far it can stretch the 2010 operating levy. The main topics in Superintendent Clint Keener’s address were Bay Schools’ strong performance indicators and stable financial management, but the prospect of a new levy request is looming.
Bay Schools has undertaken a number of measures to control costs – like using in-house labor for construction projects and buying gently used textbooks on eBay. The district has been aided by historically low natural gas prices and favorable collective bargaining agreements. Despite these efforts, treasurer Kevin Robertson forecasts the district’s reserve fund will be depleted after 2019 if revenue remains flat and expenditures rise with inflation.
School systems are limited by Ohio law to only collect the taxpayer-approved dollar amounts from levies, so although property values may rise, the revenue collected remains fixed. To keep up with increasing costs, schools must issue new tax levies periodically.
Bay Village had been on a three to four year renewal cycle, but has been able to prolong the current levy for six years. The Board of Education is discussing the next levy proposal, and will make a decision by July whether to go before voters this November or wait until next year.
“We’re very proud of what we do and how we stretch our dollars and that’s important because our product is learning,” said Superintendent Clint Keener. “Everything we do, every dollar we spend has to support that. Every decision ... [is] to support learning.”
Keener discussed a number of ways that the district is pursuing its goal of providing a well-rounded education that goes beyond standardized testing and focuses on “developing the whole child” with programming in arts, music and sciences. Examples of this strategy include all-day Kindergarten, weekly Spanish language lessons for grades K-4, technology upgrades and an expansion of health services.
The district has done well on the Ohio Report Card, with a Performance Index always in the top 30 of the state’s 612 districts. But it’s the “smaller picture” that can carry the most weight.
“State tests are important and ... our teachers do a lot of planning, but we are not solely focused on that,” Keener said. “What’s most important to us is the scores of the individual students. We use that information to understand how that student is doing in relationship to their peers ... and what we need to do to help that student.”
A video of the State of the Schools presentation can be viewed on the district’s website at bayvillageschools.com.