Cuts hit Field programs following levy failure

Brian Thursby

Field Local Schools is coping with loss of school funding by cutting busing, personnel and instituting pay-to-participate fees.

Beth Coleman, the superintendent of the district, said cuts and fees were necessary because of a loss of funding.

“There’s a few reasons that we’re facing cuts: One reason is in 2004, the Tangible Personal Property tax was phased out,” Coleman said. “For us, it meant a cut in $1.2 million a year since 2004. Then the state cut our funding between 2011 and ‘13 by a little over $800,000.”

The Tangible Personal Property tax was based on business inventory.

The large cuts in funding have forced Field to cut busing to a state minimum. Coleman said many students in the district have been affected by these polices.

“No high school students get bussed,” Coleman said. “Anyone inside two miles of any of our schools does not get bussed — that’s a lot of kids. We’ve cut 28 bus routes down to 14.”

It isn’t just busing that has been changed. Field students will have to pay to play sports. Coleman said the fee for students to participate is $300. Mike Harris, Field High School principal, said the pay-to-play fee has increased the strain on families, especially those with multiple children who participate in sports.

“There are some families that have spent $2,000 to participate in sports,” Harris said. “$2,000 is the cap — still, that is $2,000 out of your pocket.”

Coleman said the district had cut more than 20 positions in five years to help offset the costs, but cuts in positions have led to fewer electives and increased class sizes.

According to a Field Local Schools’ State of the District report, the district has tried to save money in the past two years by not replacing five retired teachers, a librarian and a counselor. The report also said further cuts might be necessary with a levy failure.

Coleman said passing the upcoming levy will be the only way to avoid state takeover and hopes this levy will pass, despite the failing of the previous levy.

“We’ve closed the gap each time,” Coleman said. “I always have that hope, we will continue asking until it passes or we will go into state takeover.”

Contact Brian Thursby at [email protected].