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03-18-03: No sports, no after-school clubs without Celina levies
The Daily Standard
    Celina City Schools board of education members made it clear at Monday night's meeting: No sports or any other extra curricular activities for Celina students next year unless both May ballot issues pass.
    "It's not a maybe or a what if. If both levies don't pass in May, there will be no sports or anything but basic courses in Celina next year. I've heard people say, we'll pass something in August or November and there will be sports next year. If you think so, you're in denial," said board member Mary Lehman.
    District Superintendent Fred Wiswell told board members and an audience of about 25 teachers and community members including a few supporters of Franklin Elementary School, the levy campaign will focus on educating the public about what's at stake.
    "We're very happy to have 150 community members serving on the seven campaign committees, and we'll have campaign visibles out very soon," Wiswell said, noting many presentations by school staff have been scheduled with local government, groups and organizations.
    Wiswell said neither levy is new; both are replacement or restoration of funds the district has lost during the defeat of four levy attempts.
    The 6.8-mill operating levy will bring in $2,253,013 per year for three years, and the 3/4 percent income tax levy for five years will raise an additional $2,250,000 per year.
    Board President Cindy Piper pointed out the 3/4 percent tax levy translates to $3.75 per week in additional taxes to those with incomes of $26,000.
    Late in the meeting, discussion turned to the disposition of Franklin school, which will close at the end of this school year due to budget reduction measures taken by school board members.
    Coldwater school district representatives recently toured the Montezuma school with the thought of renting it to house about 250 students while the district completes a construction project. Officials said they may need the building through the end of the 2005-06 school year.
    Noting Coldwater Super-intendent Eric Hoffman seems very impressed with the building, Wiswell said leasing the building would benefit the district in three ways.
    "First, we will have the opportunity to watch enrollment trends and (leasing out the building) would allow us to offset (Governor Bob) Taft's recent budget cuts," he said.
    The third reason cited is that the relatively new facility would not sit idle.
    When Piper invited audience comments, several Montezuma residents reiterated their displeasure with the closing of Franklin and the way it was communicated to the public.
    One Montezuma woman reminded the board of the fallout from the Plan A reduction measure, which closed Franklin school.
    "Closing our school was devastating to us. We had no choice. We didn't even know it was coming. You hurt the people of our community. With your Plan B (cutting all sports, some staff, buses and book fees if both levies fail in May) at least people have a choice; we had no choice," she said.
    Board member Joe Bath responded.
    "The choice everyone had was at the polls each time there was a levy issue. People could have supported our system as it was, but they said no four times. So, we had to make cuts. We have no money," he said.
    Ginny Axe, a Franklin school parent who has addressed the board at every meeting since the announcement of the school closing, said she has made many calls to education officials in Columbus and has contacted school representatives in Minnesota who managed to save their building through public support.
    "I just can't give up hope there's a way to keep Franklin open," she said, adding she plans to submit questions to board members regarding the soon-to-be-closed elementary school and to request they respond in writing.
    Wiswell stated he has been in contact with Axe on many occasions to talk with her on questions she's posed at previous board meetings.
    Following the meeting, Axe acknowledged Wiswell's efforts to meet with her.
    "I'm just not ready yet. I've been talking with a lot of Columbus people trying to get more information. I don't want to go into conversations until I have my facts lined up," she said.


Phone: (419)586-2371,   Fax: (419)586-6271
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P.O. Box 140, Celina, OH 45822