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Published: Thursday, 7/29/2004

Area school districts to ask voters to OK levies

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The Lake Local Schools district in Wood County tops eastern communities' school districts on the ballot next month with just under 11-mills it needs to avoid $1.2 million in cuts that would include layoffs and some classes.

Genoa Area Local Schools in Ottawa County and Woodmore Local Schools in Sandusky County are also seeking operating levies to avoid projected deficits, while in Wood County's Rossford Exempted Village Schools, the board of education is hoping voters will approve a permanent improvement levy for a plethora of repairs and renovations.

Lake Local Schools Superintendent Paul Orshoski said the emergency levy would generate $2.5 million a year for three years.

"If it does not pass, we would eliminate high school social studies elective courses; an elementary guidance counselor position would be cut; we would cut high school elective courses that have fewer than 10 students enrolled; we would eliminate textbook purchases, and district-paid professional leave," Mr. Orshoski said.

Beth Rokicki, head of the pro-levy committee for the Lake Schools, said there isn't any organized opposition to the levy but said some people are wary of passing a new tax because the district built a new middle school on Lemoyne Road last year.

"Lake Township is a growing community," she said. "We have housing subdivisions popping up all over the place."

The levy would cost $337 a year for the owner of a home valued at $100,000, Mr. Orshoski said. A mill is $1 of tax for every $1,000 of assessed value.

Genoa Area Local Schools voters are faced with a 5.25-mill, continuing operating levy that is expected to raise about $787,000 a year.

The tax would cost $160 a year for the owner of a home valued at $100,000, Treasurer Mike Weis said.

A 6.4-mill operating levy failed in Genoa by just 11 votes in March. After that defeat, the district made a list of cutbacks totaling about $800,000 that included high school busing, a counselor position, an assistant principal, and three teachers.

If the tax issue passes, the hope is to keep some of the 33 employees slated for layoff, restore high school busing, and lower a pay-to-participate fee enacted recently for sports and activities, Mr. Weis said.

Woodmore Local Schools seeks a 4.9-mill, five-year operating levy to replace a 2.9-mill levy expiring at the end of the year. The tax would generate $750,000 a year and cost $150 a year for the owner of a home valued at $100,000.

"If we stuck with the 2.9-mill levy we would have a deficit this year of $350,000," Superintendent Michael Eaglowski said. "And we are also, regardless of what happens in August, reducing a portion in the budget in the amount of $216,000."

If the levy does not pass next month, the district is projecting a $1.33 million shortfall.

"If it fails, we haven't specified what the cuts would be, but we've generalized the areas they would come from," Mr. Eaglowski said. "That would be all athletics and extracurricular programs; professional development for staff; overtime for employees; cuts in equipment, textbook, and supply purchases. We would have to consider cutting busing for high school students, and we would definitely have to reduce building and ground maintenance."

Rossford Exempted Village Schools' board placed a 2-mill levy on the Aug. 3 ballot to improve and maintain its facilities.

James Rossler, Jr., district treasurer, said the tax will raise $783,644 a year and cost $61 a year for the owner of a home valued at $100,000.

"The needs aren't going away," he said. "We are trying to do the best to maintain what we have rather than go out for larger millage to build new buildings."

Repairs include windows and lighting at Eagle Point Elementary; parking lot and gym roof at Glenwood; exterior walls at Indian Hills; renovating the auditorium at Rossford High school, and renovating the concession building and rest rooms at the high school football stadium.

Contact Ignazio Messina at:

imessina@theblade.com

or 419-724-6088.



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