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Green district considering renewal levy for future ballot

11/28/2013 - South Side Leader
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By Maria Lindsay

Green Local School District officials are reviewing options for a $4.1 million emergency levy that expires Dec. 31, 2014.

At the Nov. 25 Board of Education meeting, Treasurer Eydie Snowberger said district officials are considering placing a renewal of the issue, which was first approved by voters in 2011, on the Primary Election ballot in May or the General Election ballot in November, as they are the least costly.

The deadline to place a renewal issue on the Primary Election ballot is Feb. 5, she added.

Snowberger explained keeping the issue as a renewal would not increase property taxes for residential and business property owners, and a renewal would maintain its 12.5 percent rollback reduction for property owners paid by the state. A replacement or any other levy option would take that reduction away, according to recent changes to the state budget approved by Gov. John Kasich, she added.

Superintendent Jeffrey Miller reported that while the revenue from the levy was included in the five-year district forecast presented last month, officials are “not assuming” its approval by voters, but he added that “it is essential to continue operations.”

“Without its renewal, the [five-year forecast] prediction is catastrophic,” said board member Bob Campbell.

Snowberger also responded to questions raised from last month’s report on the forecast to clarify that an emergency levy does collect a fixed dollar amount, and that new development “does not reduce collections [from property owners] much — maybe only about $2 to $3.”

Board President Steven Foster emphasized no decision on how to proceed with the levy will be made until the new year, when two new board members, including Sally Fanelly and Katie Stoynoff, take their seats.

Foster lost his bid for re-election, and Lynn Wiggins did not seek re-election in the General Election.

Even if voters approve the emergency levy, district officials are predicting a deficit of $1.4 million for 2017 and $4.1 million in 2018. The deficit balance was originally predicted for 2016, but officials are now predicting that year will end with a balance of $166,999, which officials state happened thanks to some reductions in spending.

There was no discussion on how to address the deficit.

“In 2011, when we first presented the [$4.1 million emergency levy] issue to voters, we promised five years without another levy,” said Foster. “We want to get through 2016, and then look at 2017.”

In other business, the board:

  • approved a renewal agreement with the U.S. Air Force for the Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program at Green High School. Campbell stated it has been a valuable program, and other school districts are “begging” for it;
  • approved participation in a legal hotline through the Stark County Educational Service Center with Means, Bichimer, Burkholder and Baker for 10 hours at a cost of $1,200 annually and at a reduced rate in excess of 10 hours, retroactive to Nov. 1;
  • approved a letter of intent with CCG Energy Solutions Inc. for a district-wide audit at no cost to the district for the possible development of an energy retrofit project. Miller reported a preliminary audit showed a “promise of savings”;
  • accepted donations for the Bulldog Dash, including $600 each from Award Fundraising Inc. and the Green Baseball/Softball Federation, and $4,000 from the Lou Rawls Foundation;
  • accepted the retirements of cafeteria cook Sally Hammond, effective Dec. 1; custodian Claudia Doan, effective Jan. 31; and parent mentor May Groen, retroactive to Nov. 8;
  • granted six weeks of paid maternity leave and six weeks of unpaid leave through April 30 to Allison Castellaneta;
  • hired Lisa O’Neil and Rob Wagner as home instructors;
  • approved nine supplemental contracts;
  • approved the overnight extended student trip for the Green High School wrestling team to attend the Greater Miami Valley Wrestling Tournament in Dayton from Dec. 26 to Dec. 28; and
  • recognized the following Students of the Month: Alaina Washington, of Greenwood Early Learning Center; Olivia Cooper, of Green Primary School; Christopher Plummer, of Green Intermediate School; Braden Beyer, of Green Middle School; and Lauren Rossiter and Ricky Lovell, of Green High School.

The board adjourned into executive session to discuss personnel items, including appointments to the Portage Lakes Career Center Board of Education. [See related story on Page 1.] No decisions were made afterward.

The board will next meet Dec. 16 at 6:30 p.m. in Council Chambers of the Central Administration Building, 1755 Town Park Blvd.

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