Wauseon voters face critical levy decision

School district asking for new income tax levy

By Drew Stambaugh - [email protected]

With major cuts looming, Wauseon area residents will vote on a new 1.75% earned income tax for Wauseon Exempted Village Schools during the May primary.

The Board of Education has already approved cuts that would be made if the district does not receive the influx of funds from a new income tax levy. They include staff members, extra-curricular activities, and some buses.

The district has announced that positions to be eliminated if the levy is not approved include a teacher each in grades 1-5, a seventh grade math teacher, middle school health/art teacher, high school English teacher, primary school intervention specialist, maintenance assistant, Leggett Reads coordinator, WES Reading coordinator, primary school librarian and bus drivers. The bus drivers, intervention specialist and health/art positions would be eliminated through attrition.

This would be on top of cuts the district has already made since 2019. They have eliminated a bus driver, human resource position, secretary position, food service position, and two administrator positions.

Superintendent Troy Armstrong said the district also negotiated no raises in a bus drivers’ union contract and Wauseon Education Association negotiated a reduction to increases and returned financial incentives to the district as did district administrators.

“New funding is needed because the district has not asked tax payers for new money since 2011 and the district is not able to maintain operations on a 2011 level of funding. State and federal funding has been reduced since 2016. The cost of operating a school district has increased due to inflation and the increase in costs post-pandemic,” said Armstrong. “The bottom line is the district has been a good steward of local funding and has provided an excellent educational service to our students for a very small investment.”

With a levy failure, all extracurricular activities, including sports, would be eliminated and bussing would be limited to the state required minimum.

“In addition to the reduction of all extracurricular activities, institution of state minimum transportation and the reduction of 22 staff positions our school system will see increased class sizes, an exodus of staff members to better paying positions, a reduction in student population, and fewer experiences for our students,” Armstrong said. “In addition the Wauseon community will see property values decrease, business move away and an overall loss of community pride. The Wauseon Recreation Department will lose the use of district facilities which are provided at no cost to the City of Wauseon. These youth and adult programs will be negatively affected.”

At a recent City Council meeting, Councilman Steve Schneider said that people could leave the district whether the levy is approved or fails.

The superintendent thinks a failure would lead to an enrollment decrease.

“Yes, some parents have already verbalized they will apply for open enrollment elsewhere,” said Armstrong. “Districts have caps on open enrollment but students will leave if the levy fails.”

At a recent Wauseon City Council meeting, Council members brought up concerns they heard from citizens about the levy being an income tax rather than property tax.

“In my 13 years in the district, 10 as a principal and 3 as the superintendent, we often have heard, ‘Why do schools depend so much on property taxes?’ The answer has always been that schools have only two ways to generate local revenue — property taxation and income taxation,” said Armstrong. “Listening to the community and seeing that 210 school districts in Ohio have an income tax in addition to property taxes, the district chose to ask the voters to support a 1.75% Earned Income Tax.”

Evergreen, Fayette, Pettisville, and Swanton are among the area districts that currently have an income tax.

“The Wauseon community is at a critical time where the future of this great school district is in the hands of the voters,” Armstrong said. “I encourage each voter to be informed with factual information before exercising her/his constitutional right to vote.”


School district asking for new income tax levy

By Drew Stambaugh

[email protected]

Reach Drew Stambaugh at 419-335-2010

Reach Drew Stambaugh at 419-335-2010