New operating levy in the forecast

by Judy Stringer

May 8 school board meeting

Hudson City Schools Treasurer Phil Butto said he and Superintendent Dana Addis will recommend the school board put a new operating levy on the ballot, although, he added, the timing and amount of that request are not yet final.

Butto delivered the levy projection during his spring update of the five-year forecast. The updated forecast shows that the district’s deficit spending will continue, swelling from $1.7 million in 2023 to $7.5 million in 2027, if a levy is not passed. Without new money, the cash balance shrinks from $27.5 million today to just over $6 million in 2027.

“Revenues are staying the same,” Butto explained, “and expenses continue to creep up at an inflationary rate of 3-plus percent.”

If a levy is put on the ballot next year – which appears to be a likely scenario – it would be the first time the district has asked voters to boost its general fund revenue in 13 years. The last new operating levy was passed in 2011, according to the treasurer’s presentation. That was a 4.9-mil continuing levy that passed after two failed 5.9-mill levy requests in 2010.

In the meantime, voters have twice renewed a five-year, 1.5-mill PIF levy, most recently in 2022. PIF collections go directly into the district’s permanent improvement fund and are earmarked for capital improvements. They cannot be used for any operating expenses, such as salaries and benefits.

In 2017, voters also passed a 4.7-mil bond issue, which provided funds for construction of the middle school and a host of districtwide facility improvements.

Butto said district administrators have been able to “go so long” with new operating taxes by receiving slight increases in both inside milage – as a result of higher property valuations – and state funding, while also doing “a really good job at managing their expenses and living within their means.” He noted employee attrition as an example of the latter, saying many retirees are not replaced.

Butto also cautioned against waiting too long to ask for new money, given that the deficit spend “compounds quickly,” he said, and if you let it go too long, “the millage that you have to go out to your community for has to be higher to right the ship, so to speak.”

Middle school Science Olympiad

The board recognized the Hudson Middle School Science Olympiad team for its third-place finish in the state championship. Coach Jordan Renna said the team was started eight years ago by a group of high school students who wanted “to foster STEM and a love for STEM at the middle school level.”

“Four years ago was the last time we went to the state tournament at Ohio State University, and we took 22nd place and we won our first two state medals,” Renna said. “This year, we took third place, and we won 17 state medals.”

Renna said that 234 students have participated in the program over the last eight years. The team is currently comprised of 48 students – 15 to 19 of whom qualified to compete at OSU.

“We are developing lifelong learners. And so, we’re really, really, really proud of everything that our program has been able to accomplish, all of the accolades that our students have been able to achieve,” he said, noting that many of the team members come in as sixth-graders without “great study habits” and/or the ability to compete.

Gifts and grants

The board approved the following donations:

  • $5,000 to the High School Drug Free Clubs of America from the Hudson Prevention & Addiction Resource Fund of Hudson Community Foundation;
  • $2,000 to HCER Rugby Team from Ryan Regan;
  • $26,230 for tennis facility shed and sun shelter, $10,000 for benches at the tennis facility and $1,400 for benches at East Woods Intermediate School from the Tom and Gail Tobin Family Fund of American Endowment Foundation. ∞