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Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

Levy talk stirs debate


By Betty Lawrence
COLDWATER - A tax levy discussion caused quite a stir among school board members during a meeting Tuesday.
Board members Joe Eichler and Eugene Homan said they failed to see why some members and the school treasurer were talking about a tax levy when the budget is unclear as it hinges on state funding cuts.
"Why are we even talking about this. You're putting the cart before the horse," Homan said. "We still don't know how much will be cut."
Eichler added he too thought the levy subject had been put to rest.
Treasurer Sherry Shaffer at the time was asking board members several questions, including whether or not they wanted to go with an operating levy or permanent improvement levy, how soon would they want the levy on the ballot and how many mills should be considered.
"We're about cut to the bone," Shaffer said. "Next year, we will be coming up $700,000 short."
Shaffer said she favors a permanent improvement levy to cover expenses such as textbooks, buses, equipment purchases and facility repairs.
A 1-mill levy would generate $126,519 annually and a permanent improvement levy at 3.75 mills would generate $474,446. If the board wishes to place a levy on the ballot in November, they need to decide now, she said. The deadline to get the ballot language to the board of elections is Aug. 10.
A second consideration would be putting the levy on the March 2012 primary election.  
"We have talked about this and always tried to gear for this," Superintendent Rich Seas said. "Right now, we're way behind on our maintenance plan and there are concerns. We need this ... We don't want to get forced to make decisions we don't want to make. We've always looked for this day."
One major concern is replacement of the elementary school windows, which may cost up to $250,000, Seas said.  
"We simply need the money. We've been balancing the budget by using carryover and we can't keep doing this," board member Todd Bills said.
Shaffer this morning spoke on future school funding.
"For 2012-2013, the total state cut is nearly $1.1 million, but we are anticipating having addressed some of that cut in 2011-2012 and we'll keep on working on how to address the rest of the cut," she said. "This is going to be a very challenging, very lean couple of years for Coldwater schools."
No final action, or decision on the levy, was made by the board.
In other action, the board:
• Accepted an Environmental Protection Agency Energy Star plaque from Terry Liette of Fanning/Howey Associates, Celina, in recognition of operating an energy efficient facility.
• Learned the school received two safety awards for not having any work-related injuries among its 200-plus member staff.
• Heard a presentation by the Life Skills Math class on wooden benches that were made as a classroom project. The six benches will be donated to Briarwood Village.
• Approved the Athletic Boosters' donations of computers, items for the weight room, state bowling banners and football helmets.
• Approved the resignation of Mandy Diller as seventh-grade volleyball coach.
• Approved the purchase of new K-4 language arts textbook series.
• Heard a presentation by technology director Casey Nuttle and student services supervisor Paula Byers on the newly-implemented STAR program that monitors student progress in math and reading. The teachers love this, Byers said, as it gives them instant data results.
• Following executive session, approved the hiring of the school district's 32 head and assistant athletic coaches on a one-year supplemental contract for the 2011-2012 school year and the hiring of 24 summer personnel.
Additional online stories on this date
CELINA - The Alpha Delta Kappa book sale this week may be the sorority's last, as the city intends to remove its building at Mercelina Park.
Sorori [More]
ROCKFORD - Parkway Local Schools' five-year forecast shows a possible deficit of $869,654 by 2015.
Treasurer Debbie Pierce presented the financial outlook to school board members Tuesday during a regular meeting. [More]
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