Plan for School Spending Cuts

Voters’ rejection Tuesday of a proposed tax increase to support Switzerland of Ohio schools should have come as no surprise. Ironically, closure of the Ormet aluminum plant at Hannibal meant the district needs more money – but also that many voters were likely to say no to higher taxes.

About 1,000 men and women lost their jobs when Ormet shut down. Many of them are residents of Monroe County, where the school district is headquartered. One cannot blame someone suddenly out of work for deciding against a tax increase.

Again, however, Ormet’s failure affects Switzerland of Ohio schools adversely. It has been estimated the company’s bankruptcy will cost the district about $109,000 a year in lost tax revenue.

Even without factoring in the Ormet shutdown, school officials had to have known they faced an uphill battle to gain voter approval of a property tax levy intended to bring in about $3 million a year during a five-year period. Voters have not approved such a levy since 1995.

On Tuesday, the verdict was solidly against higher taxes. According to unofficial returns, just 2,369 votes were cast for the levy, with 3,135 against. That is a margin of defeat of 57 percent to 43 percent.

Now, board of education members must decide how to proceed.

It is highly unlikely the electorate will reverse itself in the foreseeable future. So, though school Superintendent John Hall has said the district already is operating with a “bare bones” budget, additional cutbacks may have to be made.

Hall and board members really have no choice but to begin planning for cuts, made as carefully as possible to lessen the damage to children in the Switzerland of Ohio school system.