After 29 years without an increase in local operating funds, the Washington Court House City Schools Board of Education has approved a resolution to place a seven year, 1% earned income tax levy on the August ballot.
Recently, the district ran a comprehensive survey of local voters to gain feedback and opinions on how best to move forward. The Board of Education used the results from the survey to inform their decision to return to the ballot in August, according to district officials.
“We truly value the input of our community, and the school board took the opinions given into account when moving forward with this resolution,” said Dr. Bailey. “The community overwhelmingly responded that academics is their top priority, and we are committed to continue fostering an excellence of learning while maintaining strict and efficient fiscal stewardship.”
If the levy passes, it would allow WCHCS to maintain current academic programming for local students as well as temporally eliminating the need to continue to make dramatic cuts to academic programs and services across the district, according to district officials.
The district has run a levy in the past two November elections, with last year’s decision failing by only 32 votes.
“Over the last year our school has already had to make approximately $1 million in cuts and spending reductions for the 2020-2021 school year,” Superintendent Tom Bailey said, “and without the passage of a new levy, additional significant cuts affecting academics and personnel will be next.”
According to the Ohio Department of Taxation, the earned income tax base includes only employee compensation and net earnings from self-employment to the extent included in modified adjusted gross income of the residents of the Washington Court House City School District.
An earned income tax will not tax retirement funds, pensions, unemployment benefits, child support, disability and survivor benefits, welfare, interest, dividends, or capital gains. Property taxes will not be affected, either.
“At one percent, it will cost the average household in our community around a dollar a day,” explained Dr. Bailey. “We are already operating on a budget that is millions of dollars smaller than all area schools. Failure to pass this levy will only set the opportunities that our students deserve back ever further.”
WCHCS has one of the lowest spending rates per pupil when compared to surrounding districts and similar districts throughout Ohio, according to the Ohio Department of Education. Even if the levy passes, this would still be true, officials said.
“We are proud to offer our students the quality education Washington Court House expects while remaining very fiscally conservative and operating on a much smaller budget than comparable schools,” Dr. Bailey said.
According to the Ohio Department of Education, due to the limited school funding options available to districts in Ohio, the average school in the state returns to the ballot every 3 to 5 years for additional local operating funds. WCHCS has not seen an increase in local operating funds since 1991.
The average cost for the of an individual who lives in WCHCS district is $1.08 a day.