Sunday, Jun 17, 2018
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Lake schools seek additional funding

5 other districts, pair of villages in region also taking requests to ballot


Lake Superintendent Jim Witt says he is optimistic about Tuesday's ballot proposal. A similar proposal was defeated twice last year.

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Six area school districts and two villages have crucial levy requests on Tuesday's special election ballot.

The Lake Local School District is requesting approval for a 6.75-mill operating levy that was defeated in the August and November elections of 2011.

"We know that we have a certain number of ‘no-voters' in our district, and the basic impetus is to get enough ‘yes-voters' to outweigh the ‘no-voters,'" Superintendent Jim Witt said.

Mr. Witt said a levy committee of local businessmen is working to engage other local businesses in the effort. The group is concentrating particularly on voters who did not vote in past elections.

He said he is optimistic about the results of the request, especially since the levy in the November election was only a few hundred votes short of approval. The new millage would generate $1.47 million in its first year and cost the owner of a $100,000 home $200 annually.

"I think we are very frugal with our taxpayers' hard-earned money, and I think our results in terms of state report cards and other measurables are outstanding," Mr. Witt said. "I think the education our kids receive is a terrific value given our low cost per student rate."

The Lake district, which recently completed a new high school after the former one was destroyed during a tornado, has not made any advance reduction plans in case the levy does not pass. But leaders have approved asking the Wood County auditor to certify the same levy amount for November if the request fails this week.

"We don't go into something planning on losing," Mr. Witt said. "If it doesn't turn out the way we would like, we'll deal with it at that point in time, but as of now we're planning on it passing and we're going full steam ahead."

The Swanton Local School District is asking voters to renew a five-year, 4.45-mill emergency levy. The levy was narrowly defeated in March.

Superintendent Jeff Schlade said the district is trying to emphasize to voters that the levy is not a new tax.

"There is a community group that's in charge of the campaign and they're doing a great job … going door-to-door to make sure everyone understands primarily that it is not for a new tax, but a renewal," Mr. Schlade said. "We're getting that message out."

Mr. Schlade said the levy is projected to cost the owner of a $100,000 home $136 per year, or about 37 cents per day.

If the tax is not approved, the district plans to file a request for the November election ballot. Ms. Schlade said the district will continue to explore ways to reduce spending regardless of the outcome of the levy.

"We've already made about close to $900,000 in reductions," he said. "This renewal would just about hopefully keep us able to maintain what we currently offer students after these reductions that were just made."

The Clyde-Green Springs Local School District is requesting approval for a five-year, 4.78-mill operating levy. Voters rejected a 4.9-mill levy three times in 2011.

If approved, the tax would generate about $1 million a year for the day-to-day operation of the district and cost the owner of a $100,000 home $146.39 a year.

Superintendent Gregg Elchert said a group of parents and community members have formed a committee called "Citizens for Schools" that has been raising awareness for the levy.

"We've had some direct mailings," he said. "We had a group of parents that were at both the city of Clyde and the village of Green Springs Fourth of July celebrations passing out our literature."

There also will be a phone call made to each voter on Monday, reminding them to vote.

Mr. Elchert said the district has reduced its budget by $2.3 million over the past three years.

"Since this levy will generate 1 mill, if it's not passed we will probably have to cut at least another million out of the budget," he said.

The Margaretta Local School District is asking voters to renew a five-year, 1.5-mill permanent improvement levy that currently generates about $200,000 per year.

The levy can only be used to purchase items that will serve the district for at least five years. Superintendent Ed Kurt said the district has used the funds in the past to repair aging buildings, purchase buses, and improve technology.

Mr. Kurt said the Margaretta Citizens Committee has been working to publicize the importance of the tax request.

"At the Cold Creek Festival in Castalia, the Margaretta Citizens Committee had a levy tent," he said. "We've had flyers go out around the district and we have levy signs up around the district."

The request features no tax increase, and the levy will continue to cost the owner of a $100,000 home $27 per year.

If the levy is defeated, Mr. Kurt said the district plans to act quickly to put the request on the ballot for the November election.

"You don't stop repairing the roofs, you can't allow roofs to leak," he said. "It's not like we have an option not to do the things we do with the money. It will come out of the general fund if we don't have this money available to us, which will hurt the programs we're providing for our kids."

In other area school systems, the Bryan City School District is asking voters to approve a 3.9-mill, 28-year bond issue for demolition and construction of school buildings.

Nearby Edon Northwest school voters will decide on a three-year, half-percent income tax and three-year, 3.7-mill levy for expenses.

The village of Delta is asking voters to renew two separate five-year, 0.5-mill levies for fire protection.

Mayor Dan Miller said the levies have been voted on every five years for at least 16 years, and they have never been defeated during that time.

"We've never had a problem getting them passed, but you never know with today's economy," he said. "But we do need fire protection."

Mr. Miller said the levies garner funds for the village of Delta's fire protection contract with York Township.

Kelleys Island voters will decide on an additional five-year, 1.25-mill levy for current expenses.

Contact Mel Flanagan at: or 419-724-6087.

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