Clinton-Massie superintendent responds to fliers, letter that oppose property tax levy


By Gary Huffenberger - ghuffenberger@wnewsj.com



Clinton-Massie Local Schools Board of Education Vice President Chris Harrison, left, presents high school Spanish teacher Mary Watts with a Consistently Making A Difference Award.


Gary Huffenberger | News Journal

Clinton-Massie High School Principal Barrett Swope reports on activities at the school during this week’s board meeting.


Gary Huffenberger | News Journal

ADAMS TOWNSHIP — The superintendent of Clinton-Massie Local Schools, at the request of the school board, publicly responded to two anti-levy fliers circulating in the area as well as a letter to the editor opposing the proposed tax.

Clinton-Massie Superintendent Matt Baker said the materials include data “snapshots” coming from early parts of fiscal years that leave out later adjustments, do not account for a budgetary formula change in what is counted, use a “gross” number rather than a “net” number, and other problems.

At Monday’s board meeting, Baker pointed to a mailer that speaks of a $185,000 increase in state funding in fiscal year 2018 compared to fiscal year 2017.

“Well, we haven’t seen an increase in state funding for the last four years,” the superintendent said, doubting that the trend will be interrupted for fiscal year 2018 which has not been completed.

Of the same mailer, Baker said he wanted to contact whoever produced it but said he doesn’t see a disclaimer or person’s name on it. He said he made an assumption “like I’m sure a lot of people did” that it was created by the groups listed inside a boxed space on the mailer: Community Cares Fact Committee, Farmers for Fair Taxation, Seniors on Fixed Income, and Retired Farmers Alliance.

Acknowledging he did not do more than a Google search, there was nothing in Clinton County that came up for the four names, said Baker.

The mailer states, “We: Support CM students and faculty. Oppose unnecessary $8 million property tax increase.”

The 5.8-mills fixed-sum levy is projected to generate $1.6 million annually for its five-year time period, which does add up to an $8 million total for the duration.

A printed Administrative Update by the superintendent, available at Monday’s board meeting, states: “As it stands with no levies, Clinton-Massie Local School District would be in ‘fiscal caution’ by end of fiscal year ’18 and ‘fiscal watch’ by end of year fiscal year ’20.”

The same page states: “The reason we chose this [type of] levy is that it does not get affected by outside voting millage. If we did a straight operating levy, we would lose up to the first two mills dropping below the 20-mill floor.”

The final statement on this introductory page of the Administrative Update reads: “Funds [from the levy] will cover deficit spending, repairs that have been postponed due to budget restrictions, increased personnel to combat higher class sizes and offer additional course offerings, and support teachers and staff with competitive salaries.”

During Clinton-Massie Treasurer Tracy Parker’s report at the board meeting she highlighted changes to the district’s five-year forecast. One change is that, starting in fiscal year 2019 there will be no student fees if the levy passes.

Another change is that if the levy does not pass, the school district is looking at a possible 8 percent budget cut over the next two years, which is a $1.4 million cutback, said Parker.

In other board of education news:

• Clinton-Massie High School Principal Barrett Swope said the senior class is comprised of 157 students. Staff is “keeping tabs” on 12 or 13 of them to ensure they graduate, he said.

• Spanish teacher Mary Watts received a Consistently Making A Difference (CMAD) Award from the Clinton-Massie Local Schools Board of Education. The recognition focused on her leading groups of high school Spanish students to Spanish-speaking countries, providing an opportunity to practice the language learned in class as well as a chance to learn about the culture.

This past summer, the students traveled to Puerto Rico.

Watts plans the travel details and organizes fundraisers to help offset the cost of the trips.

Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.

Clinton-Massie Local Schools Board of Education Vice President Chris Harrison, left, presents high school Spanish teacher Mary Watts with a Consistently Making A Difference Award.
http://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2017/10/web1_cmad.jpgClinton-Massie Local Schools Board of Education Vice President Chris Harrison, left, presents high school Spanish teacher Mary Watts with a Consistently Making A Difference Award. Gary Huffenberger | News Journal

Clinton-Massie High School Principal Barrett Swope reports on activities at the school during this week’s board meeting.
http://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2017/10/web1_swope.jpgClinton-Massie High School Principal Barrett Swope reports on activities at the school during this week’s board meeting. Gary Huffenberger | News Journal

By Gary Huffenberger

ghuffenberger@wnewsj.com