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Middletown Schools: No tax hike

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Category: Middletown City Schools
Forum Name: School Tax Issues
Forum Description: Discuss past, current and upcoming tax issues.
Printed Date: May 21 2024 at 1:17pm

Topic: Middletown Schools: No tax hike
Posted By: Vivian Moon
Subject: Middletown Schools: No tax hike
Date Posted: May 20 2016 at 10:38am

Posted: 12:00 a.m. Friday, May 20, 2016

Middletown Schools: No tax hike through 2020

By Michael D. Clark

Staff Write

MIDDLETOWN Taxpayers in Middletown won’t see a school tax hike through 2020, school officials said Thursday.

The news was part of a five-year financial forecast for Middletown Schools during a special meeting of the school board.

Twice a year — in October and May — each of Ohio’s 613 public school districts are required by law to provide the state with five-year financial projections that show the school systems will maintain solvency.

Middletown’s latest projections show slight improvement from October’s and more importantly continue a strong trend in recent years of increasing financial health for the city schools, Randy Bertram, Middletown Schools treasurer, told the school board’s leadership.

Costs are down and the district’s bond rating from Moody’s private evaluation of Middletown’s finances has improved from a grade of “A minus stable” to “A minus positive.”

Moreover, said Bertram, whereas most Ohio districts spend from 70 percent to 80 percent on labor costs, Middletown is at 37 percent due to years of cost reductions, early retirement buyouts and outsourcing services, including maintenance and busing.

“The staffing numbers are way down due to the cuts and the new staff we’re hiring … came in at a much cheaper price,” he said.

Middletown’s annual operating budget is $75 million this school year and will drop to $71.3 million for the 2016-2017 school year. No budget shortfall is projected until 2020, when a $381,000 deficit in forecast, according to Bertram.

Prior to that year, the district is projected to have operating budget surpluses decreasing annually from $3.9 million in 2016 to $725,000 in 2019.

“It’s good to know we are on the right track and things are certainly looking better,” said Bertram, who also pointed out the state’s most recent biennium budget has been more generous with education funding for Middletown compared to previous state allotments.

Voters here last decided on a school tax hike when in May 2014 they barely approved a $55 million bond issue combined with a 0.26-mill permanent improvement levy. Such levy monies are not used for operational budgets but for infrastructure, and the district is" rel="nofollow - “I feel good about the numbers and where we are,” Middletown Board of Education President Chris Urso said after the presentation. “You always want to make sure you are using the taxpayers’ dollars as responsibly as possible.”

Posted By: VietVet
Date Posted: May 20 2016 at 11:37am

"“I feel good about the numbers and where we are,” Middletown Board of Education President Chris Urso said after the presentation. “You always want to make sure you are using the taxpayers’ dollars as responsibly as possible.”"

But are we using the taxpayer dollars responsibly? Different ways to look at that statement.

From a "benefits the school's monetary need" standpoint.....perhaps.

From a taxpayer return on investment standpoint.....maybe not. We are constantly taxed for operating levies, continuing levies, emergency levies and for bond money to build their new schools for them. ....but what are we getting for our money? The elementary schools built several years ago should tell us something about return on investment. They get new schools, they get operating money for salaries, etc. We get....what, as a result? Decades old low indicator numbers. Decades old, bottom tier test scores. Bottom rated level when compared to the surrounding school districts. A non-quality school system that turns potential new residents off to locate in Middletown. A high turnover rate in teachers where we are constantly losing our more experienced teachers to the Lakota's, Lebanon's and Springboro's of the school districts while constantly hiring new, younger teachers, so that they too, can use their Middletown experience as a stepping stone to bigger and better things for their careers.

The finances may be as mentioned by the Treasurer and there may be reason to "feel good about the numbers" as Urso states. But, all is not rosy and wonderful in the district on many other fronts. We still have a major performance problem and have had for decades. That can't be satisfying to many who pay into the system and have seen no improvement for many years. The excuses for not performing are wearing mighty thin.

I'm so proud of my hometown and what it has become. Recall 'em all. Let's start over.

Posted By: Joshua
Date Posted: May 20 2016 at 1:08pm
Great news!  As a parent of 5th and 7th grade students in Middletown City Schools I couldn't be more proud.

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