Only about 30 people were on hand for first BOE meeting after levy defeat

By: Chuck Gibson

The gavel struck and the crowd quieted as the clock on the wall pointed straight-up six-o-clock Thursday night. Order came to the first meeting of the Loveland Schools Board of Education since the levy defeat on Tuesday, November 5, just like that.   

Kevin Hawley, Loveland Schools Treasurer, quickly called the roll hearing the response of “present” from all Board of Education members: Mr. Art Jarvis, Board President, Dr. Kathryn Lorenz, Board Vice President, board members, Ms. Michele Pettit, Mr. Ned Portune, and Mrs. Eileen Washburn. There was a reading of the agenda – focused on school finances – and board voted approval of the agenda.

First on the agenda was a review of Loveland City School District past, current, and projected future revenue and expenses by Treasurer Kevin Hawley. He reviewed detailed numbers of a near $2 million deficit at the close of the 2018-2019 school year and a projected near $6 million deficit for school year 2021. His presentation revealed a clear urgency for the school administration and board of education to address future finances.

The next date any levy or bond issue could be placed on a ballot is March 2020. For the Loveland Schools to place such an issue on the March ballot, they must get the proper paperwork in to the Board of Elections no later than December 18.

By the close of the Thursday, November 7, meeting of the Loveland Schools Board of Education, it was decided they would make every effort to place an operating levy only on the March ballot. It would not include any facilities master plan for permanent improvements, expansion, or building. There would be less than six weeks until the December 18, deadline to get on the March ballot.

That is not enough time to accomplish the work necessary, including gathering community input, to determine exactly what the community wants and would pass on a future bond/levy issue to address the longer term improvements, expansion and building for Loveland City School District. The earliest ballot opportunity after March would be August. Board President Art Jarvis believes August is still too soon for another ballot issue. Another factor in that decision is the possibility of being the only issue on an August ballot which would require the Loveland Schools to pay entire costs of holding a “special” August election.  

It is more likely the next school bond/levy issue would not appear until the November 2020 election ballot. For now, the BOE has asked Superintendent Dr. Amy Crouse and the rest of the LCSD administration to gather and provide the information necessary to determine exactly what should be on the March 2020 ballot. Crouse believes the board has given them firm direction for next steps.  

“Because the defeat was large, I think we really have to consider what we can get passed in March, because we have to have operating dollars,” said Crouse. “We might have to take a step aside for a minute and look at some cuts in order to ask for a smaller number in March to keep going and try to rebuild that trust.”

The administrators started to talk through that Friday. They are addressing questions of what the message is with staff and how to keep moving to March. Crouse understands the importance of reaching out to begin working together with the large portion of the community which expressed opposition to the defeated levy.

“We really need to work together to get something passed in March,” Crouse said. “Juliet Tissot and I met today at length to figure out how the levy might be and how we can come back together as a community to get something passed for education. I’m totally energized by that.”

As the administrators get back to work, not only on their own, but together with the community, the Board of Education has announced an extended meeting schedule leading up to the December 18, deadline for any possible March ballot issue. The BOE will meet every Tuesday evening, beginning November 12, and each week thru Tuesday, December 17. The next meeting will include a public input session. Details on guidelines for the public input session will be released by LCSD before the Tuesday evening session. All meetings start at 6:00 p.m. and will be held in the LMS/LIS Media Center on 757 South Lebanon Road in Loveland.

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Photo Captions: 1) A crowd of about 30 attended the first Loveland Schools BOE meeting after the levy defeat, 2) Sign in front of BOE building, 3) The BOE was all business as the crowd of 30 from the community observed