Very few issues in any election are as clear to me as Issue 11, the renewal of a 7.11 mill levy for the Vandalia-Butler City Schools.
The levy has been in place since 1994 and accounts for $4.45 million annually, or 13 percent of the district’s annual budget. There is no new money being requested.
It is hard to find anyone who thinks that the Vandalia-Butler City Schools aren’t moving in the right direction under Superintendent Bradley Neavin, Treasuer Eric Beavers, and the Board of Education. The district is leaner than it was when I came here in 2012 and, in my view, more responsive to the concerns and wishes of the community.
Have there been some mistakes? Yes. The contract with First Student was an unmitigated disaster. Fortunately, Neavin and the Board were willing to admit the mistake, own up to it, and fix it in the best way possible. Terminating the contract was the obvious choice, but it was done in an orderly fashion that, had it been done hastily, would have caused more problems than already existed and likely would have cost the district tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees.
Under the new contract, walk zones have been reduced and students are no longer having to cross I-75 on foot to get to Demmitt Elementary School. The district also has a fleet of new buses under its control. This not only enhances student safety and district efficiency (especially when considering the age/condition of the old fleet) but also gives the district more of an upper hand if the contract with Community Bus Services would go awry.
Additionally, thanks to savings in district cost for health insurance negotiated by Mr. Beavers, the district was able to eliminate Pay to Participate fees for all academic clubs and reduce those for athletics.
Just this year, the district has begun a new program, Aviator Connections, that aims to give non-traditional students – those who might leave the district for a charter and/or online school – the opportunity to remain in the local school district while meeting their need for flexibility. The advantage to both student and district makes sense – the student remains connected with the district, receives guidance, and, ideally, a diploma from Butler High School.
The Board of Education, along with Neavin, is also leading the charge with other districts around the state to take back local control of schools and put decision making where it belongs – with the locally elected school board – not legislators in Columbus.
For Vandalia-Butler to continue to grow and be the vibrant, desirable community it is, the school district must be strong. Vandalia-Butler City Schools are consistently among the top performers in Montgomery County – right there with the Oakwood and Centerville school districts.
That’s not a fluke. It’s because this community has put an emphasis on having strong schools with good leaders, great teachers, and now is not the time to change that. The staff, the students, and the entire community have a common interest in this vote, and it is clear.
Vote Yes on Issue 11.
Reach Darrell Wacker at 937-684-8983 or on Twitter @VandaliaDrummer.