The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

February 22, 2012

South county voters to decide on levies in two school districts

By ELLEN KOLMAN - ekolman@starbeacon.com
Staff Writer

JEFFERSON —  On March 6, south county voters will weigh in on two school districts’ proposed levies.

Jefferson Area Local Schools has two levies up for renewal, and Grand Valley Local Schools will have one new five-year emergency operating levy on the ballot.

Jefferson’s 1-mill permanent improvement operating levy is specifically for the purpose of purchasing school buses, renovating, remodeling, rehabilitating, improving, furnishing and equipping school facilities and improving their sites. It also includes purchase of textbooks and technological equipment.

“This levy was originally passed in 1992 and it is up for renewal every five years,” said Jefferson Area Local Schools Superintendent Doug Hladek. “With this levy we are able to purchase new buses; they cost $80,000 or more to replace.”

The rate is 1 mill for each dollar of valuation which amounts to 10 cents for each one hundred dollars of valuation for five years, commencing in 2012, first due in calendar year 2013, according to a press release.

The second renewal levy is a 1.5-mill permanent improvement operating levy specifically for the purpose of renovating, remodeling, rehabilitating, improving, furnishing and equipping school facilities and improving their sites.

The rate is 1.5 mills for each dollar of valuation, which amounts to 15 cents for each $100 of valuation for five years commencing in 2012, first due in calendar year of 2013.

Grand Valley voters will be deciding the fate of a new 4.9-mill, five-year emergency operating levy.

The levy, if passed, will generate $765,000 per year. These funds will be used to pay for normal operating expenses of the district and collections from the levy will begin in January 2013, according to information provided by Grand Valley Treasurer Lisa Moodt.

The district is in need of additional funds because much of the state aid, which accounts for almost 60 percent of the district’s operating revenue, has been reduced. After this year, the stimulus fundswill be gone, leaving a void in revenue. Districts in Ohio, including GV, will need to rely on local funding to meet operating expenses. The district must balance its budget. Without additional revenue, the only option is to reduce expenditures resulting in reduced or eliminated programs, according to the flyer.

“Academic options and opportunities to excel in athletics, band, choir, art, drama, vocational agriculture and other activities are among the reasons our students have become successful after graduation. These programs are what make Grand Valley stand out,” the flyer stated.

The district has already made significant cuts to balance their budget including: more than $1.2 million in cuts in the past four years, $650,000 in the past year alone; all staff have agreed to a zero percent salary adjustment for the next two years; all staff now contribute toward their insurance premium; the elimination of freshman sports; the reduction of 11 staff positions and 16 supplemental staff contracts; the elimination of after-school enrichment programs; the implementation of pay to participate; and four buses have been eliminated.