A New Plan?

BELLAIRE SCHOOL district voters have been down this road before. Seven times to be exact.

The Bellaire Board of Education began formulating plans during its meeting Monday night to proceed with an attempt to pass a levy. It will mark the eighth attempt by the district to have voters approve a new revenue source for the All-American Town’s school system.

The most recent try came last month. Voters shot the request down by a 1,349 to 1,154 margin. It was a 5.9-mill levy.

The initial attempts by the board of education back in 2010 asked for 12.9 mills. That was followed by a 1-percent income tax in 2011. In November 2012, an 8.7 mill levy was rejected by voters.

The Bellaire administration had hoped the smaller millage in the Nov. 5 election would have bring about passage. Such was not the case.

Now the board is mapping plans for an eighth try in May to generate new operating funds for the district which it hasn’t done in 37 years.

The Bellaire Local School District has been listed under fiscal emergency by the Ohio Department of Education since Dec. 31, 2009. To its credit, it has been steadily erasing red ink from the budget.

Bellaire schools were once staring at a $3 million plus deficit. Thanks to extensive staff layoffs, turning the food services operations into a money-maker along with other belt-tightening, the district has put itself on the path of escaping the state’s oversight.

Levy passage would not only hasten the district’s deficit exodus it would also enable the reinstatement of many academic programs that fell victims to budget cutbacks.

The board Monday night did not specify the millage amount for its next election foray. The district, however, is looking to generate $698,325 annually.

After seven successive setbacks at the polls, the Bellaire Board of Education finds itself with scripting a measure palatable to district voters. After the November results, it appears reducing the millage is not the answer.

District officials need to develop an innovative and creative game plan if they expect the eighth time to be the charm.