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Published: Wednesday, 10/6/2004

Sylvania board hears levy worries

The Sylvania Board of Education last night listened as residents asked them to be cautious in making cuts to programs for gifted children, those with special needs, and other reductions if the school district's levy request fails next month.

The board is seeking a 4.9-mill operating levy, and last week sketched out a general plan for reducing general fund expenses if the levy should fail.

About 50 people attended the meeting in the theater at Northview High School meant for the board to listen to comments from the community.

Resident John Plensler said he is now retired, and "taxes are becoming a burden."

He said the cost of the levy, if passed, will eat into funds he uses for medical and prescription insurance.

Mr. Plensler suggested the board seek other means of funding, including having parents of schoolchildren directly pay the costs of education.

Though board member George Gernot III said that is unlikely, he noted that the Ohio Supreme County has ruled on three occasions that Ohio's method of school funding is unconstitutional.

Until something is done at the state level, Mr. Gernot said "we're stuck" with increasing costs and reduced income.

Gary Johnson, a former candidate for the school board, said he doesn't think the school system is perfect, "but we can come back to work on problems after the levy passes."

Nothing will be solved if the levy fails, he said.

The largest reduction if the levy fails is the removal of extracurricular activities from the general fund.

The system spends about $1 million for athletics, clubs, and activities, such as school yearbooks and bands.

Brad Rieger, superintendent, said those activities, if they are to continue, would have to become self-supporting.

None of those attending last night's meeting brought up the issue of pay-to-participate.

Mr. Rieger said last night that other districts that have gone to that system charge anywhere from $300 to $550 per sport for students to participate. He said it would take weeks or months to figure out what fees would be charged for different activities in the Sylvania system.

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