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Published: Sunday, 5/1/2011

Woodmore going back to ballot with funding bid

Wauseon, Benton-Carroll-Salem among other districts in region asking for money

BY JENNIFER FEEHAN AND JULIE M. McKINNON
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Woodmore High School students head for their ride home at the end of a recent school day. If an emergency levy for the district fails on Tuesday, transportation of high school students could be eliminated. Woodmore High School students head for their ride home at the end of a recent school day. If an emergency levy for the district fails on Tuesday, transportation of high school students could be eliminated.
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Three times last year, Woodmore Local School District voters turned down a request for new operating dollars. On Tuesday, voters will be asked to approve a larger proposal.

Woodmore isn’t the only northwest Ohio school district returning to voters for new taxes after previous rejections. Wauseon Exempted Village Schools in Fulton County, Patrick Henry Local Schools in Henry County, and Arlington Local Schools in Hancock County are among the districts trying again.

At Woodmore, Superintendent John Fernbaugh said he is confident of voter support this time around. Numerous parents, employees, retirees, farmers, professionals, and other residents are working to help pass the levy, and the district has tried to get information out about it, Mr. Fernbaugh said. A fourth forum to answer questions about the five-year levy, which would cost the owner of a $100,000 house $120.97 a year, is scheduled for 7 p.m. tomorrow in Woodmore High School cafeteria in Elmore.

“I feel very, very good about this levy,” Mr. Fernbaugh said. “Hopefully, [residents] understand the importance of this levy.”

The school district, which has voters in both Sandusky and Ottawa counties, is seeking a 3.95-mill, five-year emergency levy that would raise $600,000 annually. Last May, August, and November, voters rejected a 2.99-mill levy that would have raised $450,000 a year.

Even if the Woodmore Local School District levy passes, about $235,000 in cutbacks are being planned for next year, says Superintendent John Fernbaugh, who is optimistic about voter approval. Even if the Woodmore Local School District levy passes, about $235,000 in cutbacks are being planned for next year, says Superintendent John Fernbaugh, who is optimistic about voter approval.
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Last month, school board members approved several potential cost-cutting proposals if the levy does not pass, including ending field trip transportation, eliminating high school transportation, and laying off up to four high school teachers. Even if the levy passes, about $235,000 in cutbacks are going to be made for next year, Mr. Fernbaugh said. The district is not replacing four teachers and a bus driver, all of whom are retiring, and it is eliminating some cafeteria aides, he said.

In Fulton County, Wauseon school district voters will be asked a second time to approve a 4.38-mill, eight-year emergency levy that would generate $841,089 a year. The levy, which was defeated in November, would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $134.14 a year.

Wauseon voters also are being asked to renew a 4.05-mill, five-year levy that generates $835,000 a year. The levy, which has been in place since 1991, costs the owner of a $100,000 house about $120 a year.

Wauseon Superintendent Marc Robinson said the school board cut $975,000 from the budget prior to the 2009-10 school year, and last fall teachers agreed to a two-year freeze of base pay rates. The board has identified more than $254,000 in cuts that will be made regardless of whether the levies pass and has agreed to implement a pay-to-participate plan for sports and other extracurricular activities, he said. A longer list of reductions will be considered if one or both of the levies fail.

Patrick Henry voters defeated a 4.9-mill, five-year operating levy in August and November. On Tuesday, they’ll be asked to approve a 6.5-mill, three-year emergency levy that would bring in $704,400 a year and cost the owner of a $100,000 home $199.06 a year.

Treasurer Thomas Taylor, who has been hired as superintendent effective July 1, said the board made $600,000 in cuts last year and recently approved $500,000 in cuts for next school year. Among the cuts for next year is the elimination of an elementary principal, which will help save $100,000 in administrative costs — something voters had expressed concern over.

Since 2007, Arlington voters have rejected three proposals to build a new school, most recently in November. On Tuesday, they’ll be asked to support two issues: a 5.5-mill, 37-year bond issue and 0.5 percent continuing income tax that would be used to build a K-12 school and athletic complex at a total cost of nearly $30 million, as well as a separate 0.25 percent, 27-year income tax that would raise $2.5 million to build an auditorium.

Superintendent Kevin Haught said the proposal in November to build the school on the current site of the football field met with the most support to date, and the board is hoping voters will support it this time with a slightly smaller millage request. If the plan is approved, the Ohio School Facilities Commission would contribute $15.6 million toward construction of the new school.

In Ottawa County, Benton-Carroll-Salem Local Schools is asking for the district’s first new operating dollars in 11 years. Voters will decide a 3.9-mill, five-year operating levy that would raise slightly more than $1.3 million a year and cost the owner of a $100,000 home $119.44 a year.

Superintendent Diane Kershaw says the district has reduced staff and will close one of four elementary schools at the end of this school year. Without new operating dollars, more buildings likely would be closed, she said.

The Clyde-Green Springs Exempted Village School District, which has voters in Sandusky and Seneca counties, is asking voters to approve a 4.9-mill, three-year operating levy that would generate $1.08 million a year and cost the owner of a $100,000 home $150.06 per year.

Superintendent Gregg Elchert said the district has cut nearly $1 million out of its budget over the last two school years, and the board plans to cut another $600,000 for next year — whether or not the levy passes.

Statewide, nearly 150 tax issues are on the ballot for Ohio school districts on Tuesday.




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