While I respect the opinion of the Tribune Chronicle regarding the school tax issues on the November ballot, I am disappointed that better facts could not be obtained before such an opinion was expressed.
The Tribune contends that, in lieu of seeking increased tax dollars, Brookfield should first implement recommendations made by The Buckeye Institute. The problem with this is: The Buckeye Institute's study was performed more than two years ago, and covered all districts in the state of Ohio, rather than just Brookfield. Had the Tribune attended more than one school board meeting over the past year, perhaps they would have known that Brookfield has been managing costs in earnest over the last five years.
This point is supported by a district-specific study: the 2006 Performance Audit on Brookfield conducted by the Auditor of State. Six years ago, the AOS predicted that, even if Brookfield reduced staffing to state minimum standards, Brookfield would be $6.5 million in debt by June 30, 2011. Through sound fiscal management, staffing reductions, and other efficiency initiatives, we finished 2011 with a $40,000 surplus. Brookfield's expenditure per pupil ratio further supports our assertion that there is little waste to trim. Brookfield currently spends $8,505 per pupil (FY2011, latest available information), which is nearly $2,100 less than the state average and $900 less than the peer group identified by the AOS study. Brookfield's expense structure is the seventh lowest of the 20 districts in Trumbull County.
In 2012, the district lost $200,000 of revenues, and will face an additional loss of general fund revenue of $500,000 in fiscal year 2013. In February, when the board learned of the impending cuts to revenue, a finance committee was formed to review operations and identify additional cost savings. The committee was comprised of two board members, the superintendent, treasurer, building principals, supervisors, parent association members, community members and union representation.
From that committee, a plan emerged to further reduce spending by another $500,000 for fiscal year 2013. Those reductions were much more than "belt-tightening" and greatly impacted the learning environment and oversight of students in the Brookfield Local School District. With these cuts in place, Brookfield's expenditure per pupil is currently $8,215. Given the impact of these cuts, it was the committee's recommendation to explore new sources of revenues - to give the residents of Brookfield a choice of what the district will become.
The voters have the right to say no to additional taxes, they also have the right to base that decision on actual facts.
David M. Drawl