I have put together some facts on the proposed Loveland City School District (LCSD) Levy in a question and answer format with footnotes on sources. After gathering and evaluating these facts, I am voting NO on the Loveland School Levy on the November 5th ballot!
Question: I keep hearing about the Levy lasting for 3 years before the Loveland School Board believes they will need to come back to the voters for more money – are the levies on the ballot for 3 years or are they “permanent”?
• The levy on the ballot is divided into three sections totaling 16.78 mills1; one is for 37 years and the other two are for “continuing period of time” or PERMANENT.
1. 6.42 mills: Issue bonds for land purchase, construction bond, and improving sites – 37 year duration (This IS permanent for many voters; I’ll be nearly 100 in 37 years!)
2. 3.41 mills: Funds for permanent improvements – permanent.
3. 6.95 mills: Funds to pay operating expenses – permanent (Note: this is a 24% increase over the last Operating Fund Levy of 5.6 mills in passed in 20142).
Question: What is the monthly and yearly increase over what I’m currently paying for Loveland Schools?
• This levy would be a 42% increase in the school taxes that you are currently paying.
• You will pay an additional $49 per month ($587.30 per year) for every $100,000 of your home’s appraised value2. Own a $250,000 home; your taxes increase ~$1,468 per year!
Question: I’m a renter, will I need to pay this tax levy?
• As a renter, you typically would not pay a real estate tax directly, though common sense would tell us that landlords will attempt to pass on their increased costs.
• This levy will impact you as well – ask you landlord what they intend to do if the levy passes!
Question: Will the Board purchase the land at Grailville even if the levy issue fails?
• The Loveland School District has already paid a $100,000.00 non-refundable deposit on the Grailville property3. According to Art Jarvis, President – Loveland Board of Education1 “The board will purchase the GV property if the levy fails. This levy represents needs, not wants. Unfortunately, the GV (Grailville) property is the only suitable land available in the school district, and it will eventually be needed to expand for our growing student population and their educational needs.”
• Dr. Amy Crouse – Superintendent hedges this some stating “The Board of Education has not yet voted on any purchase of land. The LCSD BOE must take formal action concerning the purchase of the property prior to March (2020) per the option-to-purchase contract with The Grail.”
• Although not formally approve by the Board, the plan would be to pay for the $70,000 per acre ($7,700,000 total) land purchase using funds from the existing Permanent Improvement Levy that was approved to maintain existing buildings.
o Use these funds instead of “diverting funds to pay for temporary solutions such as trailers for classroom space. 2”
o Use these funds so LSD won’t need “to continue to defer important safety and security upgrades2”. (Currently deferring important safety and security upgrades – the community should be aghast!!)
o Use these funds instead of “diverting funds from the classroom” so that we can make critical fixes in our schools.
Question: Has the Board of Education and school management held down operating expenses to reduce the impact on taxpayers?
• Since the last Operating Expense Levy in 2014, the Loveland School District’s Operating Expenditures6 increased from $43,225, 390 to $55,568,450 projected for 2019, or 5% compounded annually with a large 13% increase from 2018 to 2019.
• The Cost per Pupil went from $8,600 in 2014 to $10,689 in 2019 which is now $968 per pupil higher than the state average.
• This 5% annual LSD expense growth compares to a 1.66% United States average inflation rate7 (2015-2019E) over the same basic time period. LSD operating expenses are increasing three times (3x) inflation!
Question: If the Levy fails, won’t the Loveland School District be in a financial crisis?
• Loveland School District will have funds required to operate through the end of fiscal 2021 though the district would fall into “fiscal watch” after this time according to the Ohio Department of Education definition.
• There are multiple opportunities to put a reasonable Levy on the ballot before the end of fiscal 2021, this is not a crisis!
Question: There has been extensive growth in housing and rental properties within the LSD the past 10+ years, have we seen this same growth in Loveland students attending our schools?
• Loveland District total enrolment decreased from 4,566 to 4,462 in the past 10 years (2007/8 to 2017/18)6 even as the community residence numbers increased.
• As they say for investments “past performance is not indicative of future results” but no one has presented any evidence supporting future headcount growth.
Question: Does the Levy fund updated and new Athletic & Extracurricular Facilities are historically funded through boosters, private donations, & corporate sponsorships?
• The LSD plans include ~$10M in athletic upgrades8 including: New turf fields for baseball, softball, & multi-use.; New locker rooms, restroom facility, ticket booth, and gateway entrance; and New concessions building.
• Plans also include $22.5M5,8 for a new performing arts building with an auditorium for ~1000 and six(6) additional classrooms.
• This $32.5M equals 20% of the total $165M “ask”.
1 Official ballot language
2 LCSD Website
3 LCSD contract to purchase The Grail land
4 26-August-2019 e-mail to Loveland resident
5 6-October-2019 letter to Loveland resident
6 Ohio Department of Education Score Card
7 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
8 LCSD breakout of planned cost for implementing “Build Tiger Nation”