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Published: Tuesday, 8/17/2004

Swanton will try again to pass levy for schools

In a unanimous vote, the Swanton Board of Education yesterday voted to place a 4.34-mill renewal levy on the Nov. 2 ballot.

That same levy was rejected by voters Aug. 3 by a narrow margin the district s fourth levy defeat in 11 months.

The operating levy, first passed in 1995, then renewed in 1998 and 2001, generates $825,000 a year for the district, which includes portions of Fulton and Lucas counties.

Cheryl Swisher, Swanton s treasurer, said unless the levy is approved in November, the district will face a $412,000 deficit in fiscal year 2005, and a $412,000 in the first half of the next fiscal year.

We re slightly below state recommended minimums for certified teachers as it is, said William Green, board president. Even if we cut all extracurricular activities, it wouldn t even touch what we d have to make up.

Jeff Michael, a member of the No Swanton Tax Committee, claimed the district has increased spending more than other districts. They need to get their spending under control, he said.

Last year, slightly more than 20 teaching positions were eliminated and bus transportation for high school students was cut.

The Ohio Department of Education placed Swanton in fiscal caution last fall after the district predicted a general fund deficit of more than $1.2 million for fiscal year 2002-03 and $2.3 million for fiscal year 2003-04.

In March, the district received a financial boost when voters approved a five-year, 1.25 percent income tax. The board then borrowed $1.2 million against anticipated revenue from the tax and obtained a $212,000 state grant.

The board last night also trimmed the list of superintendent candidates to two, including former Delta High School principal Robin Rayfield, now an assistant professor at the University of Toledo.

The other finalist is Joanne Kerekes of Leipsic, superintendent of Pandora-Gilboa Local School District.

Swanton superintendent Kevin McQuade plans to retire Dec. 31, and board members want to hire a superintendent by the time school starts.

These two are a better fit in terms of the curriculum and their familiarity with the district, Mr. Green said.

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