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Published: Monday, 11/8/2010

Sylvania board votes to miss February ballot & focus on May for millage levy

The Sylvania Board of Education decided Monday morning to pass up a possible special election in February and instead concentrate on the May primary for placing a new levy request on the local ballot after last week's defeat at the polls.

Waiting until May, schools superintendent Brad Rieger said, will give district leaders time to discuss the situation with various community groups before going back on the ballot, which would not be possible under the filing deadlines for a February referendum. A special election also would have cost the district $65,000, whereas being a part of the May primary would cost significantly less.

"I think it's time for us to listen to the community and not spend extra money," board member Vicki Donovan-Lyle said as she and her colleagues agreed with Mr. Rieger's advice. No vote was needed to abandon the February option.

Sylvania school-district voters last week defeated a 4.9-mill levy request by nearly 1,700 votes out of about 21,800 ballots cast. The levy would have raised about $7.3 million annually. The district currently has a budget of about $82 million.

Mr. Rieger said brainstorming for cost savings and budget cuts has begun "at the cabinet level" and that by January he expects to recommend a roughly $6 million austerity plan to the school board.

"That's not a firm number, but that's what we're working with right now," the superintendent said.

The school board in May approved a $5 million budget cutting plan that eliminated the equivalent of 45 full-time positions from the district's payroll. Mr. Rieger said the budget cuts he will recommend in January would be proposed to take effect whether or not a levy passes in May.

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