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Published: Sunday, 5/1/2005

Schools seek funds to run

BY RACHEL ZINN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Residents in the Maumee school district will vote Tuesday on a new 5.9-mill continuing operating levy.

The levy, which would cost the owner of a $100,000 house $180 annually, would collect $3.2 million for the school district in its first year. Without the levy revenue, the district is predicting a $2.1 million deficit at the end of the 2006-07 school year.

Glenn Rambo, school board president, said the district will put the levy back on the ballot if it fails this week.

"It would have to go on the ballot in August or November. We'd have to decide which would be best for the district," he said. "We have a $2.1 million deficit facing us and you just can't ignore that."

The predicted deficit is a result of steady or declining state funding and decreasing business taxes, officials said. While these revenue sources are shrinking, cost-of-living increases are driving up the school's operational expenses.

The district has been trying to balance its budget with spending cuts. It reduced spending last year by $1.2 million, mainly by not hiring staff to replace retiring teachers. The board plans to save $550,000 this year by not replacing about half a dozen retiring teachers.

Mr. Rambo said the school board has generally discussed what budget cuts might be needed if voters do not pass a levy this year, but does not have a specific list.

"For example, we think that if we have to reduce staffing that we'd be reducing the quality of the educational opportunities that we offer," he said. "Some school districts have made some drastic program cuts, but we hope we're not in that position."

Maumee voters last went to the polls in May, 2003, when they approved a 3.2-mill continuing operating levy. They also approved a 5.2-mill bond levy to fund renovation and construction of school facilities, and a 1-mill operating levy to cover the cost of operating the additional facilities.

By state law, money from the construction levies cannot be used to cover operational expenses.

Treasurer Paul Brotzki said school officials have responded to many questions from the public about the upcoming levy request.

"Once we talk with people, they seem to understand the need for the levy," he said.



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