Operating, constructing school levy renewals on Bethel ballot


BETHEL — Voters in Bethel Township will see two local school tax levy renewals on the November ballot.

The first levy will cover current operating expenses at a rate not exceeding 7 mills, which amounts to $0.70 for every $100. The levy will commence in 2022 and will be first due in 2023, and it is for a continuing period of time.

According to Bethel Local Schools Superintendent Justin Firks, the operating expenses levy has been instrumental in maintaining staff and adding staff as enrollment increases, with Bethel Local Schools currently being the fourth fastest-growing school district in the state of Ohio. Operating expenses are the day-to-day costs of running a school district such as textbooks, classroom supplies, technology, personnel salaries and benefits, utilities, and repairs.

“The district will continue to use these funds to maintain staff and to also provide the necessary classroom supplies. Our district strives to be good stewards to our taxpayer’s dollars, and in doing so, we look to reduce costs anywhere we can. These funds will be crucial in making sure that all of the districts necessary expenses are paid from paying for gas in our buses to keeping the lights on in classrooms,” Firks said.

The second levy will provide funds for constructing, reconstructing, remodeling, and adding to school buildings including furniture, equipment, buses, and site development at a rate not exceeding 2 mills, which amounts to $0.20 for every $100. The levy will commence in 2022 and will be first due in 2023, and it is for five years.

Firks said this levy has been instrumental in allowing the district to provide technology in the classroom, for staff to educate students, and for students to have Chromebook access in a one-on-one environment — many things that were instrumental in the onset of last year’s pandemic. Firks added that the levy has continued to be a primary resource for purchasing buses and making necessary repairs to current school buildings, and that proceeds from a permanent improvement levy are generally for items considered to be lasting for five years or more, and cannot be used for a district’s current operating expenses.

“As we all know, technology changes quickly, and we will need to continue to upgrade or replace existing technology as we can, and these funds will be important to getting the necessary resources in our classrooms to ensure student success,” Firks said.

Firks added that the district has an aging bus fleet and they have developed a bus replacement plan to keep the safest buses on the roads for students and families.

“Having a high-quality school system keeps property values high and will keep Bethel Local Schools a community of choice for families” Firks said.

Firks added that in the fall of 2023, Bethel Local School will be opening a new K-5 school building and athletic stadium, both of which have been funded at no additional cost to taxpayers. The district has also implemented several cost-saving measures to benefit taxpayers such as refinancing existing bond debt from the 2017 High School Building Project, which saved $3,010,523.49. The district has delayed acceptance and renegotiated additional funding from the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission, resulting in a savings of $3,126,334.69.

“This overall savings of $6,136,858.18 shows our commitment to the taxpayers of Bethel Local Schools, and we would appreciate your support on Nov. 2,” Firks said.

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