The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

February 18, 2012

’Bula school district seeks emergency levy

By SHELLEY TERRY - sterry@starbeacon.com
Staff Writer

ASHTABULA —  The Ashtabula Area City Schools District is asking voters to approve a five-year, 6.8 mill emergency property tax levy for operating costs, which will appear on the March primary ballot.

The owner of a home valued at $50,000 will pay about $104 a year, or less than $9 per month. The 6.8-mill levy will bring in a total of $2.7 million.

Superintendent Joseph Donatone said the levy will help the district make up for loss of state and federal funding, and keep the schools running in the same manner they operate today.

“We are facing a financial emergency,” he said. “We’ve lost $1.7 million in state funding to Ashtabula Area City School students just in the last two years ... This is a real crisis. We’ve cut as much as we can. We must have additional revenue.”

Donatone said property tax is the only avenue the school district has left.

Chris Seuffert, president of the school board, said the levy is about:

n Educating students for life;

n Preserving and enhancing academic growth within the school district;

n Sound fiscal management; and

n A community that needs well-educated citizens.

“Childhood has no rewind,” she said, quoting from Parents United for Public Schools:

“Our children cannot go back to grade school and get another education when times are better and we all have more to give. When the playground is empty and the children are gone, either we will have sacrificed for them, or we won’t.”

The district’s levy committee launched on a successful phone campaign, hoping the information it garnered will help pass the levy.

The levy committee consists of Seuffert, teacher Lisa Love, Lakeside High School Principal Don Rapose and parent Reji Disalvatore.

Rapose said, “It’s our turn to support our students. Our parents supported the schools, now it’s our turn.”

Disalvatore agreed.

“The success of the levy is crucial to the success of the city,” she said. “The first thing a realtor is asked when showing a home is about the schools. If you live in Ashtabula, give students the opportunity to go to good schools.”

City Council President J.P. Ducro IV said the community is fortunate to have beautiful, new facilities.

“I hope the citizens of this community can amend their budget to accommodate this levy,” he said.

The committee will be distributing information regarding the levy. For more information, go to www.aacs.net.