The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

April 25, 2012

Way out of cuts

Jefferson school board turning to 11.9-mill levy

JEFFERSON — Jefferson Area Local Schools Board of Education is expected to give final approval today to place a 10-year, 11.9 mill emergency operating levy on the special election Aug. 7 ballot.

The millage will work out to $2,850,000 in yearly additional revenue for the district, Superintendent Doug Hladek said, the amount needed to compensate for state funding cuts and other revenue loss that leaves the district with a $1.5 million deficit for the 2012-2013 school year.

“We’d be able to restore the positions (the board voted to cut for the 2012-2013 school year) and prevent having to make another $1 million worth of cuts next year,” he said.

The board voted unanimously on April 17 to cut 21 teaching positions and 16 classified positions at the elementary, junior high and high school level. District administrators would be under a two-year wage freeze.

After the proposed cuts, full-day Kindergarten would be eliminated, as would a slew of extracurricular advising positions including: yearbook, newspaper, vocal, majorette, junior high and high school student council, Model UN assistant coach and drama. Sports to be cut include: freshman football, girls and boys freshman basketball, freshman baseball, freshman volleyball, junior high golf, junior high cross country, junior high tennis, freshman and junior high cheerleading.

Jefferson Junior High School Principal Richard Hoyson said each extracurricular cut affects a different segment of the student population

“A lot of these extracurriculars are the reasons kids get up and come to school,” he said.

The board will vote today on the second resolution necessary to place the levy on the special election ballot, Hladek said. The board first voted on Monday to approve the emergency levy resolution.

He said that the Rev. Bill McMinn has agreed to serve as the levy committee chairperson. McMinn also served chairperson for the district’s Aug. 2011’s 6-mill, five-year operating renewal levy, which passed 720 votes to 468 votes.

McMinn said the committee is still in the preliminary stages of organizing and information gathering, but that it will soon be seeking community help and input. “I want to hear what anybody (in the community) has to say,” he said. “What I would like to do is talk to people individually, hear both the pros and cons.”

The board will host a Community Engagement event at 6 p.m. May 9 at Jefferson High School to provide information and facilitate discussion about the proposed levy.

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