The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

April 26, 2013

District hopes free pancakes pay off

By Sandy Scarmack
Herald Staff Writer

BROOKFIELD — In a last-minute push to show township residents the need for a property-tax levy in May, the school district is hosting a free breakfast on Sunday, hoping to pass out some information along with the pancakes.

Set for 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the school, Superintendent Tim Saxton, along with school directors, adminstrators, teacher and other volunteers, will serve up the food and explain the need for the 4.85-mill levy.

The district is facing a nearly $500,000 deficit, and the shrinking finances – attributed to cuts in state funding and the loss of public school money to charter schools – has already cost the district furloughed teachers and reductions in available courses.

If the May 7 operating levy fails, the distict will go into state-mandated fiscal emergency, which means state officials will intercede and make further cuts to bring the district back into the black. Local school directors will have little say in what decisions the state makes, Saxton has said. Besides additional staffing cuts, the options exist to eliminate busing for students within a two-mile radius, cutting kindergarten to a half-day, pay-to-play for extracurricular activities and possibly consolidation with a neighboring district.

If such a consolidation occurs, Saxton said, residents would likely end up paying higher property tax rates anyway, since they will be taxed at the rate of the school district they merge with.

The levy is asking residents for about another $140 a year, based on a homeowner whose property is valued at $100,000.

School director Tim Filipovich said he wants to be proactive in reaching out to neighboring districts for help. He proposed at Wednesday’s board meeting that Saxton consider asking Hubbard school district to provide some of the advanced placement classes that Brookfield is unable to offer.

“Even if the levy passes, we are just looking at bringing back some of those we laid off. But I don’t know if even then we can provide these electives,” Filipovich said.

The board also is focusing on building security. Saxton asked the board to consider appointing a committee to consider the idea of teachers carrying concealed weapons, along with making improvements to district’s safety plan.

“We aren’t doing enough as a public school. We have a lockdown drill once or twice a year. We need to do more. We need involvment from the board, from the police and fire chief and school administrators,” he said.

The sceening system known as Raptor, which has been in place for about two weeks, screens all visitors, including parents, deliverymen and substitute teachers. There have been a couple of incidents in which people weren’t allowed in the building because they lacked identification. Overall, it’s been a success, Saxton said.

“An inspector from the Trumbull County Health Department got a little testy but she called her supervisor and she was told to comply and she did,” he said.