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Published: 5/1/2005

Lake says levy would bring back busing

BY ERIKA RAY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Three eastern suburban school districts have levy requests on the May 3 ballot, including two who are attempting to avoid budget deficits.

Lake Local Schools officials say they need funds immediately to head off a budget deficit that will start at $1.4 million next school year. Officials from Genoa Area Local Schools want to reinstate high school busing and other programs that have been cut over the last two years. Eastwood Local Schools officials want to plan for the future by getting a funding request approved now to prevent a projected budget deficit they say will start in 2007.

Lake Local Schools voters will be asked to approve a three-year, 8.75-mill levy that is expected to raise $2 million a year "to maintain the current level of education and programs that our students and community have grown accustomed to over the years," Superintendent Paul Orshoski said.

The new levy will cost the owner of a $100,000 home in the district - which includes Lake Township, Millbury, Walbridge, and small portions of Northwood, Perrysburg Township, and Troy Township and Allen Township in Ottawa County - about $268 annually.

If the levy passes, district officials said they plan to reinstate bus transportation in some form, leave several positions unfilled or staffed by volunteers, keep some expenses frozen, and impose a pay-to-participate fee for sports that would range from $10 to $120.

If the levy fails, Mr. Orshoski said the board will have to make even more drastic budget cuts for the next school year, including food service and all sports and extracurricular activities except those required by law.

In the last nine months, voters have defeated all four Lake levy funding requests, including an 11-mill property tax in August, a 1.25 percent income tax in November, and a 0.5 percent income tax and an 8.75-mill property tax in February.

Genoa Area Local Schools officials said they would like to bring back transportation and other programs and personnel that have been cut in the last two years, so they placed a new three-year, 4.9-mill operating levy on the ballot.

"We need this levy to pass to enhance the education of the students of Genoa schools," Superintendent Dennis Mock said.

If approved, the levy would bring in $425,000 a year and would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $150 a year. Genoa Area schools serve Genoa, Clay Center, Clay Township, and most of Allen Township. If it passes, district officials said they will reinstate high school busing, cut K-12 fees to $40, and set pay-to-participate fees for sports and extracurriculars at $60 for each activity.

"We need to bring back high school busing and review other items and programs which were cut in August," Mr. Mock said.

Eastwood Local Schools officials are being proactive in asking voters to pass a five-year, 4.8-mill emergency operating levy. School chief Bill McFarland said dwindling carryover balances are projected to cause a 2007 budget deficit for the district, which includes Pemberville, Luckey, Freedom Township, and parts of Center, Middleton, Montgomery, Perrysburg, Troy, and Webster townships.

"Our costs are going up, but yet our revenue is basically stagnant at the state level," he said. "We don't see any increases."

The levy would generate $878,000 a year, and would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $147 annually.

Mr. McFarland said the district needs the levy "to continue to operate a fine school district at our present level of operation. It's a matter of planning for the future."

The last time the district had a levy request on the ballot for current expenses was in 2001. The district passed the five-year, 8.9-mill levy that generates $1.5 million a year in November.



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