TALLMADGE — Having met the deadline to place a 7.4-mill operating levy on the May 7 ballot, the Tallmadge City School District Board of Education turned its attention Wednesday to crafting a spending reduction plan that could include staff, transportation and technology cuts.

District officials say the budget paring is needed because, by not passing an identical operating levy in the fall of 2018, the school district will lose an anticipated $3.1 million in revenue this year.

“ … Some permanent reductions will be made for the 2019-2020 school year,” according to a press release issued by the district Thursday. “Possible reductions include transportation services, classified and certified staff, freezing technology replacement and suspending non-supervision supplemental contracts. These reductions total approximately $1.9 million. The district is also exploring implementing pay-to-play fees, which would generate $200,000 in revenue per year.”

Voters in November 2018 rejected a five-year, 7.4-mill operating levy for the school district. The board of education has decided to place the same failed operating lev, a property tax, on the ballot this spring. The proposed levy would have generated a little more than $3.1 million a year and cost the owner of a $100,000 home an extra $259 per year.

According to the Summit County Board of Elections, the district met Wednesday’s deadline to place the issue before voters in May. “So the district is officially on the May 7 ballot for a 7.4-mill operating levy (no change from the November levy),” Treasurer Jeff Hostetler said, “hopefully with a better outcome than November.”

If new money is not generated for the Tallmadge schools, the district will find itself with a $1.5 million negative cash balance by fiscal year 2021, according to information provided in the five-year forecast presented in October by Hostetler. He said the district’s last operating levy was approved by voters in 2009. That levy was passed as an emergency measure at 6.9 mills, and generates just less than $2.9 million. District officials have stretched that money as far as they can, the treasurer reports.

According to Superintendent Jeff Ferguson, district officials also must draft a spending reduction plan for 2020. “If a levy for new money does not pass in 2019,” the press release says, “the spending reduction plan also outlines additional cuts the district will make to balance the budget. This would make reductions to non-state required programming and could include moving from all-day kindergarten to half-day kindergarten, a reduction in elementary specials, elimination of block scheduling at Tallmadge High School and the elimination of four middle school core teachers and three middle school exploratory teachers. These reductions would equal an additional $900,000.”

The board of education has established “After-School Hours,” on the first Monday of each month from 5 to 6 p.m. at the McCombs Education Center for citizens to stop by to discuss concerns. The board also has added an additional meeting the first Wednesday of each month for the purpose of addressing levy-related questions; these will occur March 6 and April 3 at 6 p.m. in the Community Room (1221) at Tallmadge High School, 140 N. Munroe Road.

Reporter Ellin Walsh can be reached at 330-541-9419, ewalsh@recordpub.com or @EllinWalsh_RPC.