AMANDA — Amanda-Clearcreek Superintendent J.B. Dick was looking forward to his first sound sleep in two years on Tuesday evening following the passage of a two-percent earned income tax.
“Every day when I’ve went to bed and every time I’ve woke up the next morning, my mind has been on how were we going to get this levy passed?” he said. “It’s going to be nice going to bed tonight now that the future is secure for our children, parents, staff and community that have worked so hard to make this a reality.”
With three of eight precincts reporting, the levy was passing with 787 votes (67.96 percent) for the levy and 371 against (32.04 percent), according to the Fairfield County Board of Elections.
“We have a safe margin and the levy is going to pass,” Dick said.
The levy had went down to defeat eight previous times, which resulted in the district draining its cash carryover fund to plug a growing funding hole in the budget.
Due to those repeated failures, the district was forced to ask for an additional percent this time and its Board of Education had already passed over $3.1 million in cuts for the 2020-21 school year that would go into effect if the levy failed. Those cuts included offering only a state minimum education, the elimination of all extra-curricular activities, high school busing and closing the primary building, with students and remaining staff being moved to the 3-12 building.
“We were looking at a budget that was $3.2 million in the hole for next school year and $4.1 million in the hole the year after,” Dick said. “We’ve been up front with the community and we had reached a point to where we would need to make cuts that would affect the education of every student in the district to balance our books if we couldn’t get the levy passed.”
Dick said he noticed more engagement from the community on this levy request compared to the previous attempts.
“We knew we had to figure this out sooner or later and the community I felt really got the grasp of that this time around,” he said. “We’ve had more engagement from the community and people asking more questions than we’ve had during the previous attempts.”
Dick complimented the work of the levy committee, led by Whittney Bowers, and the entire community for pulling behind the district to get the levy passed.
“Whittney did an unbelievable job of spearheading this and the amount of support we’ve received not only from students, parents, staff but the entire community itself has been very humbling,” he said. “We live in a great community that cares about its kids.”
Dick noted that full collection of the levy won’t begin until the middle of 2021, meaning the district will have to continue to closely manage its money.
“Treasurer Jill Bradford and I are going to conserve every dollar we can and make sure we are good stewards of the community’s money and the trust they have showed us,” he said. “We want to continue that approach over the 15-year duration of the levy, so the next time the district has to come to the voters asking for more money we’ll have an easier time of passing it.”
While Dick will be able to rest easier, he appreciates the students, parents and staff of the district will also be able to share the feeling.
“We had a get together at The Village restaurant in Amanda for the levy returns and to see the smiles on everyone’s face was great,” he said. “If this levy failed, we knew there would be families who would leave the district to pursue the opportunities that we would no longer be able to offer.
“Now, the kids and their families don’t have to worry about that. They’re an Ace now and they’ll be an Ace through the rest of their time in school. It’s a great day to be an Ace.”