M-U BOE seeks levy renewal


By Matt Clevenger

For Miami Valley Today

WEST MILTON — The Milton-Union Board of Education has taken the first step towards asking voters to renew a current 3.9-mil levy, passing one of two resolutions needed in order to place the levy on the ballot during the upcoming election on Nov. 3.

“This is our permanent improvement levy,” district treasurer Kay Altenburger said. “It requires two resolutions to get the levy on the ballot.”

Board members passed the resolution declaring the renewal levy’s necessity during their regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, May 18, which was held via zoom to comply with COVID-19 recommendations. The resolution will also permit the county auditor to certify how much would actually be generated by the levy.

The levy was last renewed by voters in 2015. “It’s been on the books since 1991, and renewed every five years since then,” Altenburger said.

In other business, board members also discussed the district’s five-year financial forecast, which calls for declining revenues and increasing expenditures through fiscal year 2024.

“Starting this year, expenditures are projected to exceed revenue,” Altenburger said.

The state has already cut about $250,000 worth of funding for the district, in response to COVID-19, and the forecast calls for at least another 10% cut in the future; currently, approximately 51% of the district’s total funding comes from state sources. “What’s going on in our state and what’s going on in our economy right now is a significant risk to revenue,” Altenburger said.

Open enrollment, casino funding and interest earnings are all expected to fall over the course of the forecast, and the upcoming renewal of two current school levies has now become critical. The district has also frozen all non-essential spending for 2020. “We stopped all non-essential general fund fiscal year 2020 spending,” Altenburger said. “We’re closing purchase orders.”

“We have lots of unknowns right now,” she said, “as we wait for guidelines on what’s going to happen in 2021, as far as masks and cleaning and all of those things.”

Also at Monday’s meeting, board members approved a resolution formally allowing for remote learning, enabling students of the district to access instruction and make-up required hours during school closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Board members also approved a measure allowing the district to waive the normal bidding process and proceed with installation of a new security camera system while students are not using the school buildings. The new cameras will be cloud-based, eliminating the need for expensive servers to store video data, and offer new features including facial recognition software.

Board members also heard a presentation on the connection between trauma and student behavior by Paul Hemminger from the non-profit organization Isaiah’s Place. Board members also discussed and rejected a proposal from DP & L seeking an easement for a new power transmission line that could be built along Davis Road.

“The route of the line would go up Davis Road, through the intersection of Milton-Potsdam Road,” DP&L representative Edward Rizer said. “There’a a line of poles there already on Davis Road.”

The proposed plan calls for moving the existing line of poles away from the road by three feet, and adding to the height of the existing poles. DP& L is offering the district approximately $8,500 for the easement, or about half of the county auditor’s assessed value for the 1.15-acre strip of land.

“If you want to throw some different offers our way, we’d be happy to listen to it,” board vice-president Ben Dehus said. “We don’t know what we are doing with that land; to give up that 30 feet for $8,000 is just not worth it.”

“I think the high school girls use that area to practice,” Dehus said.

“It would probably cost $8,500 to move one of those poles in the future, if you had to do that,” board president Doug Thompson said.

“There is a line there already,” Rizer said. “We’ll give this some more thought and see if we can come up with something that works better for everybody.”

Board members also discussed possible ways to host the West Milton/Union trustees joint meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday, June 4. The board’s next regularly scheduled meeting will be at 6:30p.m. Monday, June 22.