Elida Local Schools serves 2,400 students at 4 buildings in the Allen County community northwest of Lima. Operating on an annual budget of $27 million in 2010-2011, the district lost $1.6 million in the last state budget. The cuts, which include the elimination of over $1.2 million in reimbursements for the discontinued tangible personal property tax hit the district hard.
In addition to lost state funding, the district also cites unfunded state mandates as a significant factor in its inability to make ends meet, even after reducing spending by $3 million over the past decade.
In 12 years, the district’s enrollment has remained unchanged, but they are now operating with 43 fewer staff. In addition to layoffs, the district has frozen wages, increased required employee contributions for health insurance, closed buildings, reduced bus service and adjusted the thermostats.
Despite that, the district still faces a severe deficit.
On November 6, Elida voters will be asked to support a new 5-year, 0.75-percent tax on earned income to generate $2 million per year to replace the lost state funding. The levy will cost $375 annually for a taxpayer with $50,000 in income.
If the levy fails, middle-schoolers will go without extra curricular activities, art, phys-ed and music will be eliminated, full-day kindergarten will end and bus service will be further curtailed.
In an interview with the Delphos Herald, the district’s Treasurer took aim at state legislators, calling on them to formulate a long-term plan for school funding. “We can’t cut 43 positions every decade. It’s impossible to think we can keep going backwards like this.”
The Governor is set to unveil his new school funding formula early in 2013. Unfortunately, any relief may come too late for the kids of Elida.