The Bethel-Tate Board of Education met in a special session on Thursday, Aug. 6 to approve a resolution asking the board of elections to put a 4.3 mill tax levy on the ballot in November.
“We basically had two options,” said finance committee chair Pam Sandker. “We could have asked for an earned income tax or a property tax. After looking over all the figures, we decided that an earned income tax was not going to work. The last time we asked voters to approve a 5.9 mill levy, but with the current economy we had to come up with something that would work for both the public and the schools.”
She noted that one of the main concerns was bringing back high school busing, she also said that the teachers agreeing to a pay freeze this year helped the budget for the coming year but the cuts in state funding were an issue. The financing that has been coming from the state is expected to decline in the next few years making the local schools even more financially responsible.
"We have put off major layoffs so far," said Superintendent James Smith. "But if we can't get voter approval on this levy we will have to go back to the planned layoffs."
The school district has not received any additional money from voters for more than 20 years. An earned income tax was voted down in February and a 5.9 mill levy was voted down in May.
"I compare this to someone who has been working a job for 20 years without an increase in pay," said board member Kathy Adams. "Voters are expecting the same for the school district."
The levy is expected to generate an additional $750,000 in annual revenue for the district at a time when state funding is on the decline.
"The teachers and the board have done all that we can do to make cuts," said board president Ed Dyer. "We are going to have to get something from the voters. We owe it to the teachers and students that we fight until we can't fight anymore."
Former levy campaign chairman Scott Hobart offered his help to the board in running the campaign and stated his views about the importance of the levy passing.
"There are a lot of children who are attending Bethel-Tate schools on open enrollment," said Hobart. "They are coming here because their parents see the value in the schools. Bethel schools have more to offer than many other districts. We don't want to lower those standards because parents will lose confidence in the schools."
The board also approved a resolution on the recommendation of the athletic committee to establish the extra-curricular scholarship program.
The program is set up to help offset some of the pay to participate fees. The $50 scholarships will be awarded and administered by the Scholarship Award Committee consisting of a representative from the high school administration, the middle and high school athletic directors, and members of both the Tiger and Roaring Junior High boosters. Funding for the program is by donations and fund-raising activities and no district monies will be used for the program. All donations to the fund will be awarded as scholarships. Students must apply prior to each season in which they will be competing. Parents and legal guardians of the students must agree to volunteer one service hour for each $10 awarded. All students who participate in a pay to participate activity are eligible to apply for a scholarship.
To make a donation to the scholarship fund, make checks payable to the Bethel-Tate Athletic Scholarship Fund and send to Bethel-Tate Schools, 675 West Plane Street, Bethel, Ohio 45106.