by Dr. Cozad
As superintendent, it is my job to make sure our community understands the importance of its involvement with our schools and that our staff are provided with the resources they need to empower our students to be responsible decision-makers and effective problem-solvers; persevere in the achievement of life goals; contribute to communities locally and beyond; and embrace learning as a lifelong process. After all, every decision we make is with the student experience in mind.
We have a lot to look forward to this year, carrying on with the momentum and passion that propelled us last school year, but we also have our challenges ahead of us.
During the July board meeting, the Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Board of Education made the unanimous decision to postpone placing an issue on the ballot until 2020, which allows us to evaluate and reduce our budget through phases of reductions. In May, voters spoke and we heard: We are continuing to reduce our lean budget even more. The first phase of reductions implemented this school year entailed approximately $813,000 in cuts. The board can determine the millage and timing for a ballot issue once we identify the second phase of cuts, which will be at least $700,000-$900,000 in reductions, at an upcoming fall 2019 board meeting.
We have also finalized the process for a performance review. We began this discussion with the state auditor’s office in July as another way to garner objective, third-party input after the loss at the ballot in May. This free service will take approximately five months in which they will analyze the district’s operations to potentially help us improve performance and reduce costs. We look forward to sharing the results of this review once we have their recommendations in early 2020.
To be honest, our budget is so lean that cuts and reductions are hitting straight to the classroom and the student experience. There is no way around it. Much like one’s home budget we simply cannot fund what we can no longer afford. But we cannot cut our way out of a levy. Ohio’s levy cycle for schools is just that: A cycle. It peaks in that first year of collection and then over time the reserves gradually decreases. Once those funds decrease to a certain point, then additional funds are needed or cuts must be made.
When we surveyed our community in June (http://www.sugarcreek.k12.oh.us/CommunitySurvey.aspx) the overall sentiment was that we do a good job with the amount of communication we do with our residents - most of whom overwhelming believe that we are doing a great job educating our students - but we could be more clear about the needs facing our district. I hope you will find this blog to be a reliable, factual source of information. I also encourage you to stay updated on school events and news by following us on Twitter (@BellbrookSchool) and Facebook (@BellbrookSchools). Beginning this school year, we have streamlined our Facebook communications to one district page with the goal in mind that everyone will receive district facts, news and announcements in a timely and seamless manner.
Added to that, I have also scheduled “Coffee with the Superintendent” throughout our community. This is a great, casual way to ask questions and find out more about what is going on in our district. You can find that calendar here and, if you have not attended one yet, I hope to see you soon.
Finally, if you would ever like to contact me directly, I welcome the open and honest dialogue! Please email me at [email protected] or call me at 937-848-3757.
Thank you for supporting our schools and excellence in education. I am thrilled to be a part of this community and look forward to continuing another great year together at Bellbrook-Sugarcreek.