The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

June 25, 2013

School forgiveness bill has applications here, says sponsor Patterson

A bill aimed at assisting financially strapped school districts in Ohio willing to merge with another district could do good in the Ashtabula County area, said State Rep. John Patterson, D-Jefferson, sponsor of the legislation introduced last week.

Without naming names, Patterson, who represents the 99th District, said his House Bill 216 could assist at least one district in the region. “There is a district that could take advantage of this,” he said late last week.

He could have been referring to Ledgemont Local Schools, which serves Thompson and Montville townships in Geauga County. The district, which owes the state of Ohio more than $2.5 million, has been in fiscal emergency status since 2010. A 14.7-mill levy was soundly defeated by voters, 891-596, in the May special election. Ledgemont officials broached the subject of consolidation soon after the election.

Patterson’s bill would forgive debt accumulated by a district if it agrees to merge with an adjoining district. There are conditions: The district must already owe at least 33 percent of its operating budget for the current fiscal year, up to $10 million, to the Solvency Assistance Fund; and have been in a state of fiscal emergency for two fiscal years. The district willing to accept the troubled district must provide the state with a five-year solvency plan to show the merger won’t create a hardship.

“We don’t want to see another school district fail by taking on these schools,” Patterson said last week.

About a dozen districts across Ohio appear to be eligible for the proposed debt-forgiveness program, Patterson said. “Under the bill, districts that qualify are in deep financial trouble, but the bridge they would have to cross is consolidation,” he said.

In the coming weeks, the bill will go to a House education committee that will give the measure “a thorough vetting” and “work out potential bugs,” said Patterson.

The bill offers hope to struggling districts, Patterson said. “We’re trying to provide a feasible plan that gives (eligible districts) more options,” he said.

1
Text Only
Local News
Ashtabula County Alive
July 4 Celebrations 2014
Summer off to Big Start
Ashtabula County Flag Day 2014
Northeast Ohio Soap Box Derby 2014
Tour de State Line and Boating Season
Ashtabula County Memorial Day 2014
Sam Magill Sr. Memorial
Armed Forces Echo Taps 2014
Lakeside Loop Color Run
Keeping Ashtabula County Clean and Healthy
Canoe Race and Ashtabula Easter Events
The Taping of the Teacher: A sticky Sitation
18th Annual Polar Bear Plunge at Geneva State Park
House Ads
AP Video
NDN Video
'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' Sneak Peek GMA: Dog passes out from excitment to see owner Chapter Two: Designing for Naomi Watts Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Florida Keys Webcam Captures Turtles Hatching Morgan Freeman Sucks Down Helium on 'Tonight Show' Robin Wright Can Dance! (WATCH) She's Back! See Paris Hilton's New Carl's Jr. Ad Big Weekend For Atlanta Braves In Cooperstown - @TheBuzzeronFox Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth Bradley Cooper Explains His Voice in 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent Free Arturo - The World's Saddest Polar Bear A Look Back at Batman On Film Through The Years