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Published: 7/18/2008

TPS taps 2 officials, OKs start of levy process

BY MEGHAN GILBERT
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The Toledo Board of Education yesterday welcomed two administrators and authorized the administration to start the process for putting a bond issue on the November ballot.

Two familiar faces with a combined nearly 80-year tenure with the district are retiring - Crystal Ellis, chief of staff and a former superintendent, and Richard Jackson, assistant superintendent of elementary education.

Filling their shoes will be Lonny J. Rivera as chief of staff, effective Aug. 18, and Romules Durant, assistant superintendent of elementary education, effective Aug. 4.

Mr. Rivera will be paid $99,352; Mr. Durant will be paid $76,526.

Mr. Rivera, principal at Coy Elementary School in Oregon since 2003, has worked in Toledo Public Schools as a principal, assistant principal, dean of students, and special education teacher.

Prior to his appointment, he will be the acting assistant superintendent for program development and advancement from Monday through Aug. 15.

Mr. Durant, most recently principal of Riverside Elementary, has been with the district since 1999 as a teacher, assistant principal, and principal.

"Today I am excited to put together a team of individuals who are committed to education and to providing the best opportunities for the students of the Toledo Public Schools," Superintendent John Foley said in a statement. He is on vacation.

"We must continue to develop a leadership team that can continue to work toward improvement and progress."

The school board also authorized the administration to file the initial documents for a bond issue for the Nov. 4 ballot that could make available $37 million for capital improvements.

The vote was not to put the bond issue on the ballot, but rather just to start the process. The district has until Tuesday to file the initial paperwork and until Aug. 21 to decide whether to put the matter before voters.

The bond issue essentially would ask voters to alter the bond issue passed in 2002 for the district's building program.

At that time, the Building for Success project was about $800 million and since has been scaled back to about $640 million. The Ohio School Facilities Commission funds 77 percent of the program and the district pays the remaining 23 percent, generated through that 2002 bond issue. The difference between the bonds that could be issued in 2002 - $183 million - and bonds issued for the current project - $146 million - is where the $37 million comes from.

Because of the language of 2002 bond issue, the district only can spend bonds directly tied to the OSFC program. If the district had access to the $37 million, it could use it for capital improvements beyond the state plan's scope, such as for renovations.

Currently Waite High School, the former DeVilbiss High School that now houses Toledo Technology Academy, and Crossgates, Glendale-Feilbach, and Harvard elementary schools are to be renovated with local dollars.

There also has been discussion about taking Scott High School out of the plan.

TPS Treasurer Dan Romano stresses that the bond issue would not increase taxes beyond the 4.99-mill levy voters approved six years ago.

But if the board does not put it on the ballot or it is rejected, school-district residents will save about 20 percent over the course of the 28-year levy because the lower amount of bonds will be issued for the smaller-scale building program, Mr. Romano said.

Contact Meghan Gilbert at:

mgilbert@theblade.com

or 419-724-6134.



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