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Ross Schools putting levy on August ballot

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Posted at 10:35 AM, Mar 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-15 10:35:01-04

ROSS TWP., Ohio — Schools in Ross are facing a tough financial situation and leaders are calling for a tax levy to solve what it calls a “revenue problem.”

District officials say in the past two years they have cut costs by $600,000 and $700,000 each year, but that it cannot continue to make cuts without it hurting the education process.

Funding was cut by the state, which has disrupted revenue.

“The State of Ohio views the Ross community as a wealthy community,” states a release from the Ross district that was emailed this morning. “Therefore, State financial contributions to our District have diminished and our community is left with the task of funding our schools. We have done so to the best of our ability and with the resources that we have. Our last property tax levy was passed in 1999. We have managed to provide a stellar education for our students for the past 23 years with zero increase to your property taxes.”

The school system, however, has sought and won voter approval for several school income tax issues in the time period including most recently in May 2019.

On a second try at the ballot at that time, Ross voters approved a .05 percent earned income tax that was added on to the existing and permanent .75 percent earned income tax used to help fund the 2,800-student district.

The Ohio Dept. of Education sent the district a precautionary fiscal emergency letter in Dec. 2021. If the district does not come up with necessary funding, it will be declared officially in fiscal emergency and an external governing body will take control.

“This governing body will cut both staff and programs to a minimally required level and, ultimately, ask for a monumental levy,” the district said in the release. “It would be far more beneficial for the Ross Community to control our own financial destiny, and therefore control our schools, educators, students, and programs.”

A tax levy will be put before voters in a special vote in August. The school board approved a 5-year emergency property tax levy that will cost the owner of a $100,000 home $23.30 per month, or $279.65 per year.

The district said the additional money will be used for daily operating costs.

If the levy doesn’t pass in August, the district will place it on ballots in the future, said Ross officials.

District officials said it will be transparent around the levy and the financial state of the schools and has offered for anyone with questions, or organizations that want more information, to call (513) 863-1253.