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Voters support Manchester renewal levy

5/9/2013 - South Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

NEW FRANKLIN — Voters in the Manchester Local Schools District voted in favor of renewing the district’s operating levy by a ratio of nearly 3 to 1 in the May 7 Primary/Special Election.

Superintendent Sam Reynolds said he was happy to see that 72 percent of voters were in favor of Issue No. 6, a renewal of the district’s 9.8-mill operating levy. There were 711 “yes” votes and 276 votes against the renewal, according to unofficial results from the Summit County Board of Elections.

“We’re very pleased,” Reynolds said. “For me, Manchester is a wonderful community that supports its schools, and this is another example of that. We appreciate the support of the citizens.

“Our community knows our young people work very hard in school for success, both in school and on the playing field,” he added. “The voters showed they appreciate that.”

The levy will continue to collect a total of $945,140 a year for the district, which is about 8 percent of its General Fund, Reynolds said. The General Fund is used to pay for daily operating expenses, including purchased services, such as insurance and contract services, as well as textbooks, technology, transportation, student extracurricular programs, employee salaries and benefits and district materials and supplies.

Voters first approved the levy in 1985, Reynolds said, and it had been renewed six times since then. Because of that past support, the Manchester Board of Education made the decision this year to make the levy a continuing one, meaning the levy would continue to be collected without having to go before voters again.

Reynolds said he thinks voters supported that change.

“There are other issues that are on a limited basis that people will be able to vote for,” he said.

He added that because property values have increased since the levy was first approved in 1985, the actual amount collected from individual property owners has gone down. When the levy campaign first started this year, the district reported the levy was collecting at a rate of 5.1 mills, and it cost owners of $100,000 in property about $159 a year. Those who receive the homestead exemption would pay less, about $119 per year.

In the midst of the campaign, the district received updated numbers that showed the levy is actually now collecting at a rate of 4.7 mills, which means owners of $100,000 in property will now see a bill of $145 a year, or nearly $109 with the homestead exemption, Reynolds said.

The superintendent said while he was pleased with his district’s success on Election Day, he was also happy that neighboring Coventry Local Schools District’s bond issue and levy passed. That district plans to build a new high school at the Erwine Intermediate School site, renovate the current high school building for students in kindergarten through fifth grade and provide improvements such as security upgrades. [See related story on Page 1.]

The Ohio School Facilities Commission — an independent state agency that helps fund the construction of new schools or renovations to existing ones to improve the education experience — offered the Coventry district $11 million toward the $39.3 million construction and renovation project.

“It’s good for their children, and I think they are taking advantage of an opportunity the state has given them, and I know they worked really hard to pass the issue,” Reynolds said. “With what we are expecting for children, there is a necessity to have upgraded technology, and that issue provides that, so I’m happy for them. It’s a great investment. An investment in the young is the best investment a community can make.”

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