The Toledo Board of Education last night adopted a $328.2 million budget for the 2003-2004 school year, but school officials said it's contingent on passage of the August renewal levy.
If the 6.5-mill operating levy renewal fails in the Aug. 5 vote, the district could try again in November. But failure in both elections would cause the elimination of about $7.3 million from the 2003-2004 academic year budget - the amount that would be collected from the levy during the first six months of 2004, Treasurer Jim Fortlage said.
“We would have to retool the budget. If it would fail a second time in November, there would be no choice but to have more cuts,” Mr. Fortlage said. “This budget is temporary.”
The budget as passed includes a $15 million reduction package approved in May that cut 310 positions, including 230 teachers. The budget has an ending balance of $21,818 which compares to this year's estimated $9.6 million.
In other business, the board approved the purchase of a property on Glendale Avenue that could become the access road to a new Bowsher High School when it's built as part of the Ohio School Facilities Construction project.
The district is considering placing the new South Toledo high school along Schneider Road at an existing soccer complex, Dan Burns, the district's acting chief business manager, said.
“That's the preferred site where we'd like to locate the new school,” he said.
After an executive session, the board unanimously agreed to spend $95,000 to purchase the property at 2625 Glendale.
The owner, 87-year-old Gladys Moline, told The Blade she didn't know the district was interested in her property which includes the house she has lived in for 53 years and a garden with fruit trees and strawberries.
“I'll be darned,” she said, learning her site likely would become a driveway to the new Bowsher. “It took me a long time to make up my mind, but I had to do it.”
As part of the annual budget, the board moved $400,000 from supplies purchasing to fund teachers' wages for two additional parent-teacher conferences that will be scheduled in the evening.
“I think you'll see it'll make a significant difference,” said board vice president Terry Glazer, who proposed the measure. “I think it will benefit all students at all levels.”
Board member Larry Sykes abstained from voting on Mr. Glazer's measure and on the final budget, saying he opposed paying teachers more money to fund more parent conferences when parent attendance at existing conferences is low.
“I support parent participation, but not at the cost that we're looking at when there are other programs out there. I abstained instead of voting no so it won't come out that Larry is anti-parent. There are groups that would use that against me as I run for re-election this year,” Mr. Sykes said. “To pay for parents to participate when we know they don't participate? We need to put in a place or method of forcing them to become involved in their children's programs.”
The final budget resolution included an amendment from board member David Welch to restore a previously eliminated teaching position in the animal care program, contingent on the program having a high enough enrollment in the fall to support the staffing.
Mr. Welch's amendment, approved unanimously, included a directive for the administration to re-evaluate the elimination of the hotel-motel management program which was removed in the May measure. The program's two teachers retired this year, Mr. Welch said, but the program should not be permanently eliminated.
Salaries represent about $198.2 million of expenditures next year, and fringe benefits are projected to increase by about $892,113 in part because of a 13 percent increase in health insurance costs and a 15 percent increase in prescription drug rates.