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Published: Wednesday, 2/16/2005

Genoa: Restoration of programs goal of levy


Hoping to return programs and personnel that have been cut over the last two years is one reason why the Genoa Area Local Schools Board of Education decided to ask voters to pass a 4.9-mill levy on May 3.

Treasurer Mike Weis said the district needs to pass a levy worth about 2.25 mills to keep status quo, but because the board has identified a number of items it would like to reinstate, it recently voted to ask for a three-year, 4.9-mill operating levy.

"We would like to, No. 1, get transportation back for our students," Superintendent Dennis Mock said. He noted the higher levy request is needed because the district wants to bring back some of the programs that helped raise test scores in the past, and because state funding over the last four years has been reduced.

The May levy request will be just six months after voters approved a five-year, 5-mill renewal operating levy that brings in $474,000 a year.

The renewal levy will help maintain day-to-day operations, but the district needs more cash to bring back some of the $1.4 million in programs and personnel cut over the last two years.

Most programs were cut because voters defeated a 5.25-mill continuing operating levy in August that would have raised $787,000 a year.

After consulting with school board members, Mr. Weis compiled a list of items the board wants to reinstate if a levy is passed, and each one's annual cost to the district. He warned that not all the programs and personnel could come back at once, and suggested phasing them in over the next two years.

Programs and personnel that top the list and their estimated yearly cost include:

● High school transportation: $135,024

● One custodian: $34,619

● Freshman athletics and other clubs and activities affecting grades seven through 12: $28,771

● Awards and bonuses negotiated with certified and classified employes for perfect attendance, for example: $28,000

● An auxiliary student services position, which combines the athletic director position with the transportation supervisor and the athletic facility scheduling positions: $9,499

● A grass-cutting position: $6,992

● Board of education compensation: $5,100

● Funded student field trips: $2,000

● Overtime pay for weekend building checks: $2,000

● Athletic training clinics, which includes first aid training: $1,000

Other items the board would like to phase in over the next two years if a levy is passed and each item's annual cost to the district include:

● An elementary school counselor: $55,848

● An elementary school librarian: $55,848

● Hiring one of the two county employees who are in charge of special education and the curriculum and add the position of assistant principal to that person's title: $13,349

As an incentive for the community to approve the levy, board members said they would like to discuss reducing K-12 fees by 50 percent to $30, which would bring in $48,000 a year. "In the past we've been able to keep those fees low," Mr. Mock said.

They also may cut down the pay-to-participate extracurricular activity fee from $120 for the first sport, $100 for the second sport, and $80 for the third sport to a flat $50 for each sport. If lowered, the fee would then haul in $22,500 annually, which is down from the about $48,000 the fee brought in this year, Mr. Mock said.

The district can make it through next year under the same structure, but must make changes after that, Mr. Weis said.

Board members said they shied from asking for a continuing levy in May because they felt a three-year levy would generate more support.

Mr. Mock said he supported a three-year levy because the Ohio School Facilities Commission has forecast funding would be available for school buildings in 2008, which is when the district could re-evaluate its financial situation. The levy, if passed, would help support the district until then.

The district has asked voters to approve six levies since 2000, and three of those have passed.

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