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Published: 2/9/2006

9.78-mill levy is considered for Archbold

ARCHBOLD, Ohio - The Archbold Area Local Board of Education tonight will consider asking voters for an extra $2.4 million a year through a 9.78-mill levy that would cost the owner of a $100,000 owner-occupied home an extra $300 a year.

The school board last night agreed unanimously to ask the Fulton County auditor to certify figures for the proposed five-year levy.

Tonight, it will vote on whether to file the levy with the Fulton County Board of Elections for the May ballot.

It would increase property taxes in the school district by about 22 percent.

The request is a reduction from $3.5 million that the board proposed Monday night during a community meeting that drew about 340 people.

The board decided informally in a two-hour work session yesterday morning to reduce its request and make an estimated $1.1 million cut to its annual budget.

The reduction was made in response to cries from the public for the school to share the pain, Superintendent Ken Cline said.

Slashing $1.1 million would be an 8.7 percent cut to the district's operating budget, which is $12.7 million this school year.

Where those cuts would come from has not been determined, the school board and its administrators said.

Mr. Cline said the board likely will buy fewer new textbooks.

But the board typically has spent less than $100,000 a year on textbooks.

He said he did not know if such a cut would mean layoffs.

The district's labor contract with the Archbold Education Association, which represents about 100 teachers, guidance counselors, and librarians, expires June 30.

Negotiations are to begin in April.

Issues regarding those cuts drew perhaps the most questions from the audience of eight people last night.

Ray Childs, a father of three Archbold High School graduates and a retired financial planner, asked the school board to delay its request in order to tell the community exactly what it would cut before putting a levy on the ballot.

"The community is willing to help our school," he said. But he said residents have questions now.

Mr. Cline and board members said the levy request has been forecast for years, but is larger than anticipated earlier because of changes of state aid.

Meanwhile, the district's expenses have been growing.

The teachers contract, which has provided 3 percent raises each of the last three years, is one of the largest increases.

Health insurance costs for employees have spiked. This school year, the district's costs are up 28 percent from last school year - a $400,000 increase. That's on top of 23 percent and 21 percent increases in the previous two years.

And fuel costs are up significantly - both for transportation and heating and cooling. The district turned thermostats to 68 degrees this winter, down from 70 to 72 degrees where it had kept temperatures for years.

Mr. Cline said administrators haven't decided how to set air conditioners.

The proposed levy would take total property taxes for a $100,000 owner-occupied home in the school district to $1,721 in Archbold, $1,660 in Franklin Township, and $1,646 in German Township.



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