Centerville school board prez: Waiting to go back on the ballot 'has its own risks'

Jul. 7—Centerville City Schools will not receive any new funding in 2025 without an additional levy in 2024.

Centerville-Washington Twp. voters last approved additional funding for Centerville Schools in 2019. In November 2023, voters rejected a levy request for 5.9 mills that would have raised $12.9 million per year to fund school district operations and permanent improvements. Then, in March 2024, voters rejected a request for a 3.9-mill operating levy that would have raised $11.2 million per year.

On Monday, a new contract went into effect stipulating a zero-percent increase to the base salary for all district employees for the next two years. Even with that new variable and two recent rejections, Superintendent Jon Wesney said it is not feasible to wait a year and see how finances adjust before coming back to voters.

"We have adjusted our financial projections to include the reductions that are being implemented as well as any changes as a result of contract negotiations," Wesney told the Dayton Daily News. "Although those changes have certainly helped our bottom line, we are still in deficit spending, and without an additional levy in 2024, the district will not receive any new funding in 2025.

"We are faced with having to make additional cuts to programming or continue to ask our community for more money. This is the information we'll be sharing in our upcoming community meetings."

Board of Education President Allison Durnbaugh said she can "completely understand the thought process" of those who would ask about the district/board to take a "wait-and-see" approach.

"However, the problem as I see it boils down to state funding," Durnbaugh said. "Because our district sits on the guarantee in the state funding model, and due in large part to HB 920 which freezes outside mills at the collection value from when they were first passed, our funding is very much static. As such, there isn't much to adjust over the next year to see how it all plays out."

On the contrary, she said, the full implementation of the property revaluations from last year coupled with the now known numbers from Centerville's reduction plan implementation and the result of the new contract, gives the district a better-than-ever picture of its finances over the next several years.

"In addition, as was modeled for us by our treasurer at our June board meetings, waiting to go back on the ballot has its own risks," she said. "Waiting would push any potential collection into February 2026 at the earliest.

"This would force us to dip further into our cash reserve — or savings — while waiting for that first collection. Worse yet, it would force the district to make further cuts to staffing, programming and/or services for our students."

Centerville City Schools will host two community forums and several community engagement events this month to discuss school finances and possible next steps for additional district funding. During the forums, district leaders plan to share a brief presentation, then offer community members the opportunity to share their feedback about district finances.

"We gained valuable insights into the questions and concerns about school finances during our community events in late 2023 and early 2024," Wesney said in a statement. "We are committed to continuing this collaboration and maintaining open communication with our community."

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IF YOU GO: Centerville City School District Community Forums and Community Engagement Events

Community forums — Wednesday: 6 p.m. in the Cline Elementary Auditorium, 99 Virginia Ave. (Enter through the main entrance across from Alumni Stadium.) — July 16: 6 p.m. in the Centerville High School Theatre, 500 E. Franklin St. (Enter through the front entrance.)

Community engagement events — Thursday: 5 p.m. at Weller Elementary, 9600 Sheehan Road. (Park and enter through the rear of the building, which is accessible from Ariadne Trail.) — Friday: 8 a.m. at John Hole Elementary, 180 W. Whipp Road. — July 18: 5 p.m. (location to be announced) — July 19: 8 a.m. (location TBA) — July 24: 5 p.m. (location TBA) — July 25: 8 a.m. (location TBA)