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Published: Tuesday, 5/11/2004

Sylvania board agrees to ask voters for levy; amount undecided

Members of the Sylvania Board of Education last night agreed informally to seek an operating levy on the November general election ballot, but they did not determine the amount the district will seek.

David Spiess, president of the board, said members likely will formalize their agreements during their meeting May 24 and will determine how much they will seek from the voters.

Mr. Spiess added that the amount of millage could change up to Aug. 19, when they must formally apply to be on the November ballot.

He said the uncertainty stems from a concern about the level of state funding to schools.

Carol McElfresh, treasurer and chief financial officer for the school district, said she will run a number of scenarios based on different expense projections for the board to use in determining the amount they will seek.

She told the board that money for permanent improvements seems sufficient now and that to put that before the voters along with, or as part of, the ballot issue would be unnecessarily confusing.

The board determined that it would seek a levy based on real estate values and not put an income tax measure on the ballot.

A 4.9-mill levy, most of it for operating expenses, was passed in 2002, but at that time the school system was getting state support of $15.8 million on a per-pupil basis. That has dropped to $13.5 million.

Enrollment has changed from 8,155 students in 1999 to the current 7,844.

The school board last month voted to cut 73 employees, 44 of them teachers, in order to balance the system's books through the coming school year.

Even with the reduction in payroll, Ms. McElfresh said she projects a balance of only $190,000 at the end of June next year.

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