Last updated: February 25. 2014 9:49PM - 363 Views
Rick Hanes

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The Piqua City Board of Education has placed a permanent improvement renewal levy request on the May 6, 2014 ballot. This is not a new or additional tax. The renewal levy will not bring additional dollars to the district. Currently the permanent improvement levy brings in $692,986 annually. Based upon discussion with our county auditor’s office this amount will decrease by $30,000 for next year because some properties in our district have declined in value. Because of this we will be experiencing a decrease in our funding; but we are holding true to our promise of asking for a renewal of our current permanent improvement levy and not asking for an additional tax.

When I came on board as Piqua City School District Superintendent almost seven years ago, the Piqua Board of Education and I heard a clear message from our community to tighten our belt and live within our budget like everyone else in our community was being forced to do to get through the tough financial times. Together the Board, Treasurer and I plotted a conservative course to live in the black financially while better utilizing district resources. Our mantra became one of providing great opportunities and experiences for our students to build a great education while redesigning our financial strategies. Six years ago we established the Piqua Taxpayer Bill of Rights as a daily reminder of our commitment to be quality stewards of the community dollars earmarkedfor our district. That Taxpayer Bill of Rights is posted on my office wall so that I am reminded every day of my commitment to our public.

It hasn’t been an easy road yet we have tightened our belt and we are living in the black financially. I am happy to report that as of July 31, 2013 we finished our sixth consecutive year in the black! I am also happy to report that we are currently projectedto finish this year in the black. This has been a tough financial period for everyone and like all of our community members we did respond to the call and necessity of tightening our belt and living within our budget.

Our staff has been a significant part of this financial transformation by employing district energy conservation measures in classrooms and around the district, promoting recycle/reduce/reuse, working within “basic need” ordering and spending strategies, searching and applying for outside resources through grants and fund-raising, and respecting the challenging times everyone in our community has been experiencing by accepting wage freezes and benefits concessions. Thank you staff!

Operating our district with a financially conservative strategy doesn’t mean we are skimping on the education for our community children. Rather, operating under a conservative strategy forces us to relook at every dollar spent to insure it is going to the classroom and benefitting our students. Because of this approach we have redirected our resources to provide the offerings I wrote about in my article last week. While being financially conservative we continue to build our expectations and rigor at Piqua City Schools by increasing our programming to offer the best education in the Northern Miami Valley.

The request for the renewal of the permanent improvement levyon May 6, 2014 is an example of our conservative financial strategy and commitment to live within our budget. Our district is asking for a renewal not for additional funding. The renewal levy is a five year levy which was originally passed by Piqua voters in 1994 and has continued to be renewed. The levy expires December 31, 2014. The Piqua Board of Education will need to cut an additional $692,986 from the operating budget if the May 6, 2014 Permanent Improvement renewal levy fails. Because we have already made significant reductions and cuts to live within our budget, this means that $692,986 would annually be taken directly away from the daily operations of our classrooms serving our students.

The permanent improvement levy is used for:

Maintaining Piqua High School and Piqua Junior High

Paying the $302,000 annual payment on the interest-free Qualified School Construction Bonds which we acquired to replace the Heating/Ventilation/Air Conditioning (HVAC) system at Piqua High School. This loan has thirteen (13) years left.

Purchase two school buses per year currently at $90,238 each to replace our fleet of thirty (30) busesto insure the safe passage of our students.

Respond to those unexpected facility needs including parking lot and driveway resurfacing and repairs, boiler malfunctions, roof faults, brickwork, plumbing issues, and updating safety/security equipment.

Like any homeowner we need to set aside dollars to maintain our facilities. The permanent improvement fund is our set aside dollars for these facility maintenance expenses, both expected and unexpected.

Piqua City School District is committed to excellence by providing good schools at a good value. This renewal levy will help maintain our community assets including the thirty-three year old Piqua High School and fifteen-year old Piqua Junior High School. I want to thank our community for the continued support you provide.

Rick Hanes is the superintendent of the Piqua City School District. Rick continues to ensure that the Piqua City Schools show residents the “Good Schools, Good Value” that they are each day. You can follow him directly on Twitter @raheducator.

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