BELOIT- The West Branch school board Thursday night approved the continuation of open enrollment next year, with an administrator explaining its importance to the district's bottom line and its relevancy to the upcoming May ballot.
The open enrollment program includes both adjacent and non-adjacent districts and, according to Treasurer Daniel Telzrow, last year generated over $1.6 million, approximately 9 percent of the district's operating revenue. So far this year (seven months) the program has generated over $1 million for approximately 10 percent of the district's operating revenue. Similar numbers are projected each year of the five-year financial forecast.
"Without [the open enrollment funds] we wouldn't have some of the programs we have right now," Telzrow said, pointing out that even with the high number of open enrollment funds, the district is still projected in a deficit, thus one of the needs for the income tax levy in May.
The board is seeking a five-year .75 percent income tax levy on the May ballot.
Regarding the levy two district residents presented several questions they said were put to them by other residents, namely why the board can't find more ways to cut expenditures before requesting additional tax dollars and why residents should have to give up income from such sources as veterans' disability and pensions.
Per policy the board did not address the concerns directly, but encouraged those with questions to contact the administration. One of the residents suggested the board permit residents to voice their concerns at upcoming open meetings regarding the levy.
Although the board did not respond to the questions put forth by the visitors, Damascus Principal Matthew Manley spoke passionately in support of the levy, noting that the district has cut $1.5 million in programs the past three years including industrial technology. He also noted that in the years since the district last passed a new money levy costs have increased drastically, so the current millage at which the district is operating-the lowest permitted by the state-is no longer meeting those rising costs.
Manley, the school board and levy committee chair Kim Lewis all encouraged residents to visit the school website, www.westbranch.k12.oh.us, or the We ARE West Branch Facebook page for information regarding the levy.