TALLMADGE — On Wednesday night, the Tallmadge school board is expected to consider a cost-cutting plan that would save the district about $1.89 million. The Board of Education meets at 6 p.m. in the Community Room at Tallmadge High School, 140 N. Munroe Road.
The proposed cuts, which would be made for the 2019-20 school year, include staff, transportation and technology. Superintendent Jeff Ferguson says the reductions are necessary because an operating levy failed in November 2018.
The board has asked the superintendent to make recommendations because, by law, the Tallmadge City School District may not operate in the negative. If new money is not generated, the district will find itself with a $1.5 million negative cash balance by fiscal year 2021, according to the October 2018 forecast prepared by Treasurer Jeff Hostetler.
The proposed reductions to the school district’s 2019-20 operating budget include $700,000 in transportation services; $75,000 by freezing technology replacement; $91,000 from suspending non-supervision supplemental contracts; $40,000 in classified staff reductions; and $1.02 million in certified staff reductions. Tallmadge school district officials also are considering implementing pay-to-participate fees, a move they say could generate about $200,000 annually.
The school district has placed the identical 7.4-mill operating levy which failed in November on the May 7 ballot. If approved, it would generate a little more than $3.1 million per year for a five-year period. Even if the levy passes in May, Ferguson notes the Tallmadge City Schools won’t receive any new money until 2020.
"If we're not successful in May, we could be back on (the ballot) in August or November," the superintendent said, "but the key here is if we are not successful in 2019, we will have to further reduce (our operations) for the 2020 school year." Possible cuts in this category could include reducing all-day kindergarten to half-day; reducing elementary specials; eliminating block scheduling at Tallmadge High School; and eliminating four middle school core teachers and three middle school exploratory teachers.
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 per year. School district officials say they have stretched that money as far as they can.
The board 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 a meeting on the first Wednesday of each month for the purpose of addressing levy-related questions. These will take place on March 6 and April 3 at 6 p.m. in the Community Room at Tallmadge High School.
Reporter Ellin Walsh can be reached at 330-541-9419, firstname.lastname@example.org or @EllinWalsh_RPC.