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Published: Thursday, 2/17/2005

Maumee schools to seek 5.9-mill levy

The Maumee Board of Education agreed unanimously last night to ask voters to approve a new continuing operating levy in the May 3 election.

The 5.9-mill levy, if approved, would cost the owner of a $100,000 house $180.69 a year. It would raise $3,163,165 in calendar year 2006.

The board said the levy is necessary to make up for reductions in state funding and growing expenses. It last passed an operating levy in 2003.

The board already has implemented $1.2 million in cuts and savings for the current school year, and plans to reduce its annual budget by an additional $550,000 in coming school years. Those reductions come from attrition, smaller budgets for individual buildings and the central office, and cuts in benefits and insurance.

Board President Glenn Rambo said the district has made all the budget reductions it can make without compromising the quality of education it provides.

"We've taken the cost reductions we think we can take," he said.

Even with those reductions, the district would have a negative balance at the end of the 2006-2007 school year if voters do not approve the levy, so further cuts would probably be necessary, district officials said.

The board considered two other millages before deciding on 5.9 mills after an hour-long debate. It unanimously turned down a 3.9-mill levy and split 3-2 against a 4.9-mill levy.

The 4.9-mill levy would have cost the owner of a $100,000 house $169.60 a year and raised $2,647,443 in 2006.

Board members Sylvia Washburn and Janet Wolff and Vice President Stephanie Piechowiak voted against the 4.9-mill levy, worried that the district would need to return to the ballot too soon.

"I can see this happening again, if we're lax and put all of our time and effort and energy to go with a [4.9-mill levy]," Ms. Wolff said.

The 4.9-mill levy would have left the district with a balance of $550,000 at the end of the 2008-2009 school year, if the balance didn't get eaten by increasing costs or cuts in state funding.

"We never know what they're going to give us and what they're going to take away," Ms. Washburn said.

Mr. Rambo and board member Bob Righi voted for the 4.9-mill levy, concerned that it would be more difficult to pass the 5.9-mill levy. They voted for the 5.9-mill levy after the rest of the board turned down the smaller levy.

If the levy fails in May, the district will try again in August or November, but funding a second campaign would be difficult, Superintendent Greg Smith said.

In other action, the board voted unanimously to give Mr. Smith an "excellent and successful" evaluation.



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