Alexander - sign TS

The sign in front of the Alexander Local School District school complex near Albany.

Alexander Local School District voters denied the district’s fifth attempt at an income-tax levy that officials say is badly needed to fund general operating expenses for the district.

In Athens County, according to unofficial election results, 54.69 percent of the voters in the Alexander District (2,231) voted against the proposed 1 percent traditional income-tax levy, while 46.31 percent (1,924) voted in favor. The total vote, which includes a small numbers of district voters in Meigs and Vinton counties, was 2,534 no and 2,192 yes.

“I am speechless,” Alexander Supt. Lindy Douglas said in an email Wednesday morning. “The children of our community really needed this levy.”

This is the second time residents in the district have voted against the proposed levy as it appeared on the ballot this election. Voters have rejected three different versions of the proposed levy on four separate occasions since November 2016. A 1.5 percent earned-income tax levy was rejected by voters two years ago in November, and again in May 2017; a 1.25 percent earned-income tax levy proposed over a five-year period was rejected in November 2017; and a 1 percent traditional income-tax levy proposed this past May also was rejected by voters in Athens County by just 54 votes.

After the May election, voter feedback suggested that a lack of faith in the Alexander administration and a general opposition to increased taxation among many residents in the district were blocking the levy’s approval.

Alexander has not passed an operating levy for additional funds in the last 26 years, The NEWS previously reported, and state funding for Alexander has been reduced by $2.2 million since 2009, school officials have said. 

The levy funds would have gone toward “yearly operating expenses, fuel, foods, busing, staff, maintenance, repairs, books and equipment,” Douglas said in a January email. Douglas said then that the district’s administration cut Alexander’s budget by $600,000 in 2017. Until a tax levy passes, district officials have said that Alexander likely will continue to lose funding and need to make more budget cuts. 

In June, the Alexander Local School Board approved a list of budget cuts in an effort to mitigate the ongoing budgetary crisis, which included a curriculum freeze on textbooks for the fiscal years 2020, 2021 and 2022, valued at $27,000 in savings; a classroom supplies fee that will be charged to students (excluding those in the Free Lunch program) valued at $43,360; athletic cuts (including supplies and transportation) valued at $13,520; and the elimination of several positions, including (but not limited to) the junior varsity cheerleading coach, junior high football coach, assistant band director, sophomore class adviser, Industrial Arts Club adviser, elementary and junior high yearbook advisers, junior high Science Olympiad adviser, play set director, show choir director and several other positions.

Those cuts are expected to amount to $28,956 in savings for the district.

According to district Treasurer Aaron Schirm, the Ohio Department of Taxation has estimated that the levy would have generated approximately $2.1 million annually once collections were in full swing. 

Without that funding, “Additional cuts will be looked (at),” Douglas said Wednesday. “The board will need to review the five-year forecast and make some decisions for the upcoming year...

“We would like to thank all the supporters of our school district, everyone who came out to vote and support our school and children, our future,” Douglas added. “We appreciate everyone who has worked hard to support the district and students.”

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