February contains both Valentine's Day and Election Day, and in several northwest Ohio school districts, folks will head to the polls Tuesday to show their love - or lack thereof - for local school levies.
Among the districts with proposed taxes and bond issues on the ballot are:
Each of the districts sought funding from voters in the November general election, and each failed.
The proposed North Central levy would raise $643,000 a year that district leaders say they need to maintain programs.
It is the district's third-consecutive request. Voters there rejected levies in November and August.
After the Nov. 2 election, the school board cut sports and other activities as well as some busing and hot lunches. But it quickly reinstated the cuts after more than 100 people attended a six-hour school board meeting.
If Tuesday's levy fails, Superintendent Steve Lewis said he would advise the school board to ask for another levy in May. If that would fail, he said the board should cut $400,000 to $500,000 from next school year's budget.
"I think the community pretty well knows the ramifications involved," he said.
If the levy passes, Mr. Lewis said, the board would only maintain present programs and would not fill staff positions that have been cut in recent years.
Passage of the levy would make real estate tax rates in the village of Pioneer the highest in Williams County.
The levy would cost $242 a year for the owner of a $100,000, owner-occupied house, increasing the total real estate tax bill for such a property by almost 18 percent in Pioneer and by almost 20 percent in Jefferson Township.
Continental Local Schools is asking for new operating dollars for the fourth-consecutive election.
Voters rejected a 1 percent income tax proposal in March, a plan to replace five-decades-old operating levies in August and a 4.8-mill operating levy in November.
On Tuesday they'll be asked to consider a 0.5 percent income tax intended to generate about $250,000 a year for five years.
Since last fall, the district has cut $1 million from its budget in part by eliminating more than 20 percent of its staff.
Because the 661-student district saw its enrollment drop by 80 students this year, the board is expected to cut six more teachers even if the income tax passes, Superintendent Sandra Muir said. The reduction in force will save as much as $300,000 a year as each grade level is reduced to two classes.
The board also is considering a plan to remove all funding for sports and extracurricular activities from the general fund by increasing student-activity fees and pooling income from ticket and concession sales to cover the costs.
Passing the income tax will just keep the schools' head above the water.
"We want this to pass to keep the operation going, to keep the buses fueled, to keep the electricity on," Ms. Muir said. "We do need this so badly."
In the Seneca East Local Schools, the board of education is trying again with a levy and bond issues totaling 8.69 mills that would allow the district to replace its three aging classroom buildings with one new structure.
Voters rejected the measure in November, but Superintendent Michael Wank said he believes voters weren't properly educated about the plan's benefits. If the bond issue is approved, the Ohio School Facilities Commission would pay $18.7 million toward the project or 68 percent of the cost, he said.
The rest of the construction funds, $8.7 million, would come from the bond issue. The levy would provide an additional $500,000 for building maintenance. The district stands to lose the state funds if it does not pass a bond issue by August, Mr. Wank said.
The combined tax measure would cost the owner of a $100,000 house $266.13 a year.
The Monroeville Local Schools also will try to pass a bond issue to fund building improvements, but the district's plans do not include new construction or state aid.
Instead, school officials have proposed a 5.5-mill, 28-year bond issue to expand and modernize the district's single-building campus on U.S. 20, which serves students from Erie and Huron counties. The state has told the district it wouldn't fund a renovation, and voters have twice rejected new buildings.
Plans include adding elementary classrooms, turning the high school gym into an auditorium, replacing windows, and building a gym, a cafeteria, a computer lab, and other facilities for the high school.
The bond issue would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $168.44 a year.
Staff writers Jennifer Feehan, Steve Murphy, and Jane Schmucker contributed to this report.
Contact Vanessa Winans at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6168.