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The Daily



08-13-03: Marion Local voters will decide levy fate
    MARIA STEIN - Marion Local Schools board of education took the final step Tuesday night to place a 12.22-mill emergency operating levy renewal and increase on the November ballot.
    Members unanimously approved a resolution to proceed, joining a number of other area districts going to voters with outstretched hands in the wake of recent state budget cuts.
    If approved, the millage would generate $755,662 per year for a period of five years, providing a buffer for the district's financial forecast.
    The current 11.83-mill levy, approved by voters in 1998, generates $555,662 per year and expires at the end of the year. Voters previously approved emergency levies in 1993 and 1995 totaling 17.75 mills. In 1998, the board essentially combined the levies into one and reduced millage due to a large cash carryover at the time. However, the action came with a warning that increased millage might be needed at some point in the future.
    With property valuations being completed in November, Treasurer Paul Gagel explained the full 12.22 mills, even if approved at the polls, likely would not be collected. He foresees a reduction of 0.25 mills due to increased property valuation.
    "With higher property valuations in place, we could reduce the millage and still collect the same amount of money," he told The Daily Standard.
    The projected revenue for the levy is based on current property valuations, according to Gagel.
    Following a lengthy discussion, the Marion Local Band received approval for a New York City trip that includes performances and shows in late April or early May. Band Director James Stephens and band boosters President Gary Fortkamp returned for the discussion initiated last month.
    The band has traveled south to Florida every four years since the mid-1980s. Board members expressed concern that throwing another trip into the mix would drain band booster coffers. The organization pays half the cost of the trip with parents covering the remainder.
    "I don't think we need to create more fund-raisers and have kids knocking on more doors," board member Tess Mescher said. She wondered aloud how the organization could finance two large trips in short span of four years. Fellow board members nodded in agreement.
    "I don't think we need to have the Florida trip written in stone," board member Ron Winner added.
    While approving the New York request, the board reserved the right to evaluate future trips on educational merits, pointing out there would be no rubber stamp approvals.
    Board members declined to co-sign a $125,000 loan with the Marion Local Athletic Boosters for a proposed building to house restrooms, a concession stand and a storage area between the baseball/softball fields and the track. The volunteer organization plans to fund the entire cost of the facility, but the bank requires another signature on the dotted line.
     As co-signer, the board would be responsible for the loan in the event the boosters defaulted. Board members feared proceeding would set a precedent for other organizations.
    In other business, the board:
    - Set a $30 fee for students wishing to take Sign Language I. It currently costs the district $160 per student for the classes, which can be used for foreign language credit. Fees are expected to skyrocket next year when an Ohio Department of Education grant expires.
    - Approved a contract with Chapel Hill Preschool to occupy one room during the coming school year at a cost of $3,000.
    - Endorsed a contract with St. John the Baptist Catholic Church to use 25 classrooms for Wednesday night religious education classes beginning Sept. 9 and concluding May 5 at a cost of $3,729.
    - Hired Chad Wells, a Ball State University graduate and former Division I player, as varsity baseball coach, and Greg Bruns as assistant baseball coach.
    - Accepted the resignation of Mark Ronnebaum as freshman boys basketball coach.
    - Congratulated Superintendent Andy Smith on receiving his educational doctorate last week from Bowling Green State University.


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