THE BELLAIRE Board of Education is holding a special meeting Monday night. Several issues will be up for discussion, but not as important as that of possibly placing another money request on the November ballot.
The topic has been one at the forefront of district operations for the past several years. A levy to generate a new revenue source became a hot-ticket issue when the school when into fiscal emergency some four years ago.
Since that financial low-point, district officials have placed six different money requests — in varying form — in front of voters. All six have met the same fate — defeat.
Much to its credit, the district’s leadership has done a masterful job of belt tightening. What once was a $3 million plus deficit has been whittled down to about $1 million in red ink.
That has been accomplished by many methods.
First and foremost, some 40 staff positions have been eliminated, including administrators. That move alone has gone a long way in stopping the budgetary bleeding.
Secondly, the food services operations went from a deficit-making machine into a profitable venture.
Thirdly, both unions (teachers and OAPSE) agreed to wage freezes and accepting a new insurance plan which saves the district money.
The fiscal crisis experienced by the district has resulted in a much more efficient entity. The district is heading in the right direction, and will eventually shed itself of the state-saddled deficit even without a levy. New money from voters would mean the re-establishment of programs that were cut to save money.
The May primary saw the district’s 8.25 mill levy defeated 1,035 to 836. It was the lone issue on the ballot. The previous attempt, during the November 2012 presidential general election, saw a tax levy defeated 2,463 to 1,843.
If the Bellaire Board of Education opts for a seventh attempt to win voter support on a funding request, it should realize a smaller levy would improve its chances of repeating recent history.