The Springfield Board of Education unanimously voted Monday to pull a planned May levy off the ballot; a repeat of a meeting last week that raised questions about whether the board violated state law.
Board members removed the 3.9-mill operating levy that was to appear on the May 6 ballot because they determined it would be insufficient to stabilize the district’s finances. They had voted at a special meeting last week to remove the levy, but the meeting notice only said that board members would meet in a closed session to “discuss personnel.”
The board announced late Thursday that they would meet again after The Blade raised questions about the legality of the board’s actions. Ohio law does not permit boards to discuss or act on items at special meetings other than those referenced in notices. The law also does not allow for an executive session for the issue of a levy.
But Sherri Koback, the board president, said the board only called another meeting to provide more opportunity for community discussion or questions. When asked if she believed the board violated state law, she said, “I don’t think so.”
The 3.9-mill levy would have raised about $1.1 million if approved by voters. District assistant treasurer Mindy Ward said that, even if the levy had been approved, Springfield still faced a $2.5-million budget deficit next school year.
A likely substantial increase in the district’s insurance cost and a hike in fees from the Educational Service Center of Lake Erie West were the major causes of the projected deficit. Ms. Ward said the district is already considering some cost-cutting measures.
The board will meet Wednesday for its regularly scheduled meeting, and Ms. Ward said board members are expected to discuss the next steps. District officials have said a larger levy will be needed to balance the district’s budget; the next chance to place a levy on the ballot would be in August.
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