Newbury School Board Weighs In on Consolidation Study
Newbury, Berkshire Boards to Discuss Consolidation Tonight
Newbury School Board passed a resolution Monday that includes recommendations to the State Board of Education regarding the study being done on a consolidation between Newbury and Berkshire school districts.
They asked the board to include in the study a financial plan for the new district with the following:
• Revenue neutrality – at a minimum, the new district will have the same revenue as Newbury and Berkshire currently have, combined;
• Uniform tax burden – residents of the new district will have a uniform tax burden; and
• Leverage state, federal and non-government resources – the new district will leverage those resources to enhance its educational program and facilities.
The resolution also authorizes the board president, superintendent and treasurer to execute and deliver any documents in connection with the study.
Newbury School District Treasurer Nancy McPeak said a financial plan for the consolidated district is underway, but it will be a long, difficult process. Both she and Berkshire Treasurer Beth McCaffrey are working on configuring the fiscal possibilities of the new district, but it is early days, she said.
The number of staff, students, classes and the busing schedule for a consolidated district are still uncertain, McPeak said Tuesday.
“We don’t know any of that,” she said. Regardless, they are trying to put together the plan considering requirements of the State Board of Education, the Ohio Department of Education and voters in both Newbury and Berkshire districts.
The State Board of Education has to put the issue on the ballot and residents from the proposed new district will vote on the proposal in November 2014, she said. If the issue passes, the state will appoint a new board and the new district will take effect July 1, 2015. In November of 2015 all the board seats will be up for election.
The new board will decide the taxing configuration, including how the earned income tax in the Berkshire district will be applied to Newbury, McPeak said, and how Newbury’s emergency levies will apply to Berkshire.
“We’re only looking for what is going to be revenue neutral,” she said, adding that residents were welcome to attend the two-district meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Newbury Elementary School auditorium for a presentation and discussion on consolidation.
Monday, Newbury Schools Superintendent Richard Wagner said many school districts’ funding problems stem from House Bill 920 passed in 1976 that resulted in individual levies not growing to keep up with inflation. Also, the state has passed unfunded mandates for schools and steadily decreased the amount of state funds coming to smaller, supposedly wealthier school districts. Because Newbury School District is percieved by the state to have a wealth of property, the state only provides about $400 per student per year, he said.
“I’m sorry about that. It is the way it is,” Wagner said
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