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Published: Thursday, 1/29/2004

Grads try to bolster levy requests

BY JANE SCHMUCKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A nurse practitioner and a bank branch manager returned to their financially pinched alma maters this month as school board members, just weeks before their district s new income tax requests appear on the March 2 ballot.

Sue Murry, who teaches nursing at Lourdes College in Sylvania and practices at the Delta Medical Center in Swancreek Township, was unopposed in her run for an Evergreen Local Board of Education seat. She graduated from Evergreen High School in 1975.

Catherine Kline, manager of National City Bank in Swanton, finished second in a field of five candidates running for two board seats on the Swanton Local Board of Education. She graduated from Swanton High School in 1979.

On the same Nov. 4 ballot where they were elected, voters denied both schools requests for new operating levies and both are back on the March 2 primary ballot.

Swanton is asking for a new 1.25 percent, five-year income tax that board members say they need to keep the district out of financial emergency designation by the Ohio Department of Education. It will be their fourth request to voters in less than 12 months. New operating levy requests failed in May and August as well as November.

Evergreen is asking for a new 0.75 percent, five-year income tax. It lost bids for a new 0.5 percent income tax in May and November.

Mrs. Murry said she has “a hope and a prayer belief” that Evergreen s income tax will pass in March.

“They re good people and I think they ll rise to the occasion and take care of their kids, even though they think they re overtaxed,” she said of district voters.

It was no surprise, she said, that the levy failed twice last year.

“Evergreen is one of those places where they don t think you need it unless you come back for the third time,” she said.

She ran for school board because she considers herself an advocate for kids and after teaching at Lourdes she said she realized high schools could be doing more to help students develop writing and critical thinking skills.

Her biggest goal for her term is to be “an advocate for academic excellence within the constraints of the community s expectation for fiscal responsibility,” she said.

Mrs. Murry graduated from Ohio State University with a bachelor s degree in nursing in 1979 and was employed with the Fulton County Health Department from 1986 to 1997 and Sauder Woodworking Co. in Archbold from 1998 to 2000.

She lives in Royalton Township with her husband, Joe, a project manager with George Gradel & Co. construction. The youngest of their three children is a senior at Evergreen High School, which is why Mrs. Murry, 47, said she picked last fall to run for her first elective office.

“It seemed like a good time because I m not advocating for my own child. I m advocating for everyone s kids,” she said. She replaces former board president Suzanne Salsbury and will be paid $125 per meeting attended.

Swanton s Ms. Kline was a leader in the district s continuous improvement committee in 2000, a group that had goals of improvements in facilities; learning and staff development; interaction between school and community, and parental involvement in education.

The same year she was the Swanton Rotary Club s first female president. A resident of Swanton for all of her 42 years, she has also been active with the Swanton Area Chamber of Commerce and the Swanton Corn Festival Committee.

Since her daughters, now ages 12 and 14, were small, she has been a room mother, tutor, and member of school levy committees and the steering committee for the new high school.

“This is just the next level I can be involved,” she said of her school board seat.

Her community involvement and experience as a parent are the biggest assets she said she brings to the board along with her financial experience. She has been manager of National City in Swanton for 13 years and has been employed there for 25, starting as a teller after graduating from high school.

Ms. Kline said she sees communications with the community as her biggest challenge. Open communications are key to the income tax levy effort, she said.

In November s election she finished a close second to board president Bill Green. She replaces Barb Schmidt, who did not run for re-election. Swanton cut school board payments in its financial crisis.



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