The Bright Local Board of Education voted to place a permanent improvement levy on the November ballot and to rehire recently resigned superintendent Ted Downing at a board meeting Wednesday.
If approved, the 3-mill property tax levy would become effective in January of 2019 and would cost property owners $105 annually for each $100,000 of property evaluation, treasurer Randy Drewyor said.
But, a 0.5-mill levy that was passed back in 1976 will expire in late 2020, school board president Angie Wright said. When that happens, if the new levy is passed, property owners would only pay $87.50 annually per each $100,000 of property evaluation, Drewyor said.
The proposed issue is a continuous levy, meaning it would remain in place permanently, unless another issue is placed on a future ballot to rescind it.
Drewyor said the school district wants to emphasize that, if passed, the levy funds could only be used for permanent improvements to school facilities, and could not be used for staff salaries, operating expenses or anything else.
Wright said items at the top of the list that levy funds would be used for include upgrading safety and security in the school district, technology, building repairs, and additional parking at both school campuses in Mowrystown and Sugartree Ridge.
More specifically, Drewyor said the district would like to improve security at all entrances to the district’s buildings, potentially place barricades inside doors, and be able to replace buses more often. He said the district’s buses are accumulating lots of miles, and the district can only afford to replace one bus every three years. The district would like to replace at least one bus every other year, Drewyor said.
“The buildings are getting older. Even the elementary is almost 20 years old,” Drewyor said. “We have to look at replacing flooring, technology and things like roof maintenance.”
Drewyor also emphasized that the district is not threatening to make any cuts at this time if the levy does not pass.
“We’ll just have to make some tough decisions on maintenance and what to replace and not replace,” he said. Those decisions would become even tougher when the former levy expires, he said.
“Things are going really, really well, and I think the timing is right,” Drewyor added. “Long term, it’s the right thing to do because the buildings are not getting any younger. We just want to maintain what we have and be good caretakers of the taxpayers’ money.”
The vote to approve the levy passed by a unanimous 4-0 vote of the school board. Wright, vice president Tammy Hauke, and board members Mike Ames and John Gillespie voted for it. Steve Cox was out of town and did not vote.
In August, Drewyor said the board will start planning its campaign strategy, and in September it will start holding public meetings about the levy and doing other campaigning.
“We want to make sure people understand what the money will be used for,” he said.
He said no other levy has been passed in the district since 1976.
“I’m very proud since I’ve been here of how we have taken care of our money,” Drewyor said. “I think this is a logical step to keep taking care of what we have and addressing some of the public feedback we have had.”
Former superintendent Ted Downing, who resigned just five weeks ago, was rehired by the board Wednesday. Drewyor said Downing decided he did not like being retired and asked to be rehired. He will return to work Aug. 1 with a frozen three-year contract, according to Drewyor. He had previously served the district since Aug. 1, 2015
“We’re really glad to have him back,” Wright said. “He did some really good things while he was here and we hope to keep moving in that direction.”
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or [email protected]