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Published: Wednesday, 10/20/2004

Area school levies, bond issues on tap

BY ERIKA RAY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

From renewals to bond issues and from revenue needed for operations to capital improvements, some suburban schools are asking voters to approve a plethora of levies on Nov. 2.

Genoa Area Local Schools has placed a five-year, 5-mill renewal operating levy on the ballot. The levy brings in $474,000 a year and costs $86 for the owner of a $100,000 home, according to Ottawa County Auditor Jo Ellen Regal.

The current levy expires in 2005, and the renewal levy would go into effect in 2006 to continue to maintain current day-to-day operations, including utilities, salaries, and textbooks, said Superintendent Dennis Mock.

The levy was first approved in 1990, and was renewed in 1994 and 1999, Mr. Mock said.

The school board decided to put the renewal before voters after they defeated a 5.25-mill continuing levy for operations Aug. 3 that would have raised $787,000 a year in new revenue.

Because it was rejected, the district made $950,000 in reductions. It laid off 33 employees, eliminated high school busing and block scheduling, cut all field trips, and imposed pay-to-play fees. Students will now pay $120 for their first activity, $100 for their second activity, and $80 for their third activity.

"We had some big, drastic cuts," Mr. Mock said, adding that the levy the district is asking for is significant because it will be used to maintain all current programs.

Oregon City Schools is asking voters to support a 4.4-mill bond issue that will generate $45 million to help pay for building improvements over the next few years, said Oregon Superintendent John Hall. The district is focusing on replacing or renovating all the schools in the district.

School officials are recommending replacing Coy Elementary School; making significant additions and renovations to Clay High School; making some additions and renovations to Jerusalem, Wynn, and Starr elementary schools; and making some renovations to Eisenhower and Fassett middle schools.

District officials said they need to pass the bond issue to relieve classroom overcrowding; to update the plumbing, mechanical, and electrical systems in the facilities, which range in age from 42 to 78 years old; to bring schools up to current building codes and standards; and to expand multi-use of the facilities for city, township, and community organizations.

The levy would cost the owner of a $100,000 house $154 a year. The district plans to repay the bond issue over the next 28 years.

Northwood Local schools has a 3.9-mill continuing levy for operations on the November ballot to offset a projected district budget deficit in the 2006-07 school year, said Northwood Superintendent Ron Matter.

"This is a very proactive step by our board of education," Mr. Matter said. "We're trying to ask for a lower amount now, rather than waiting until 2005."

The levy would bring in $488,151 annually, and would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $119 a year.

The revenue would be used for day-to-day expenses, costs related to personnel, equipment, supplies, transportation, utilities, technology, building maintenance, textbooks, and other learning materials.

The district has no plans for cuts if the levy is not approved, but Mr. Matter said it will probably ask for a higher millage in 2005 should this request be rejected.

Rossford Exempted Village Schools is again asking voters for a 2-mill continuous capital improvements levy to maintain its facilities. If approved by voters, the levy that was defeated Aug. 3 by a 2-to-1 vote would raise $783,644 a year and would cost $61 a year for a $100,000 homeowner.

Rossford Superintendent Luci Gernot said plans for levy revenue that rank high on the priority list include refurbishing the auditorium at Rossford High School, and repaiing the windows at Eagle Point Elementary, the heat and ventilation at the Bulldog Center, the parking lot at Glenwood Elementary, the restrooms at Bulldog Stadium, the windows at Wolfe Field House, and the doors at Rossford Junior High School.

Diana Hersch, district communications liaison, said reinforcing the creek wall at Bulldog Stadium is also high on the priority list. "That is going to have to be repaired and shored up so that we don't begin to lose actual ground in our stadium," she said. "What we want to maintain is a safe environment for students."

Without the levy, Ms. Gernot said these plans would be modified to include only immediate needs. "It's important to maintain our buildings and facilities," she said. "We're at the point where we really need to replace instead of repair."



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