The Mariemont City Schools Board of Education took multiple steps to address the facility and financial needs of the district for the next four years on Monday. The unanimous votes taken during the board meeting bring an end to a two-year community process and puts a plan in place to avoid nearly $2 million dollars in budget cuts over the next few years.
“We have discussed with and listened to our residents for the past two years regarding how to best address the financial and building needs in our district,” noted Superintendent Steven Estepp. “Tonight’s action by the board puts this community solution in the hands of voters to help maintain the excellence that exists in our schools.”
During the meeting, the board heard a financial presentation regarding the Five-Year Forecast from Treasurer Tom Golinar. The presentation highlighted that, thanks to strong fiscal management, the district was able to stretch the 2014 levy an additional year while also keeping average budget growth at two percent. It also showed that the district will have to implement significant cuts in the budget if the $1 million per year repair costs to fix failing mechanical systems at Mariemont High School are not addressed.
“We have stretched our funds as far as possible,” noted Golinar. “However the reality is that without additional revenue we will have to make significant cuts in order to meet the basic needs in front of us. These are cuts that will jeopardize the excellent programming and staffing that currently exists in our schools.”
The board also unanimously approved the Master Facility Plan for Mariemont High School. The Community Facility Team as well as the Community Finance Committee made a recommendation as to the vision and budget for the project in April. Since that recommendation, the district’s architectural, construction management and owners representative firms have all meticulously gone over the plans to develop a final scope and budget aligned to the vision and recommendation of the community teams.
To address both the facility and financial issues in the district, the board unanimously voted to request a combined 2.5-mill operating and a 5.75-mill permanent improvement issue on the November 6, 2018 ballot. The operating request is the lowest millage amount in the district’s history and is expected to meet the day-to-day operating needs in the district for the next four years. These funds cover expenses such as teachers, utilities and supplies. The permanent improvement funds would generate an estimated $43 million dollars to address the renovations at the high school as well as provide security enhancements and other ongoing maintenance needs at the other schools in the district.
“The district is facing serious needs,” said Estepp. “We have engaged with our community and looked at multiple options to address these needs. Now the decision is up to voters as we look to create a more stable and secure future on both the operational and facility sides of our schools.”
The vote of necessity that was approved by the board will now be sent to the County Auditor’s Office for review. Once the auditor certifies the district’s calculations, then the board will act upon the vote to proceed to officially place the combined issue on the November 6, 2018 ballot.