The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

January 10, 2014

Ashtabula BOE is grappling with big needs and limited dollars

SAYBROOK TOWNSHIP — With a mounting list of expenditures and no additional money coming from the state, the Ashtabula Area City School Board Wednesday discussed the possibility of a levy on the November ballot.

The emergency operating levy would go hand-in-hand with Superintendent Patrick Colucci’s $700,000 expenditure reduction plan to be presented at the next board meeting, slated for Feb. 19. The reduction plan will be for the 2014-2015 school year.

“I know it’s difficult to ask the community to raise taxes, but we’re flat-lined,”  he said. “We’re going to have to find a way to balance the budget and create revenue.”

Colucci, who has been superintendent for about a year, said he’s not doing this alone.

“I am looking at the situation with my staff,” he said. “The bottom line is we will look at what we can do to provide our students with the highest quality education.”

School Board President Steve Candela said he believes an emergency levy is the wise thing to do.

“If put on the ballot in November, there’s a reasonable chance it might pass,” he said. “But first the board must earn the confidence of the public, prove we will be good caretakers of finance and do the job they would like us to do.”

Last January, the school board approved a $1 million cost-cutting plan for the current school year that included the layoff of seven teachers, a reduction in hours for cafeteria and library aids and elimination of all ninth-grade sports, as well as other cut backs.

The district also has cut busing down to the state minimum, meaning more children are walking to school.

The board also placed an emergency operating levy on the May 2013 ballot and it failed by 122 votes, according to the official results from the Ashtabula County Election Board.

Colucci said he was encouraged by the results of the last levy as it was very close to passing.

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