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The Daily



08-14-03: St. Marys board to seek levy

    ST. MARYS - Board of education members approved placing two new levies on the Nov. 4 election ballot during a Wednesday night board meeting.
    Voters will determine the fate of a permanent, 1 percent income tax that would offset a projected deficit in the school budget in 2005, and a 6.92-mill property tax that would help fund building new schools.
    Based on a $24,084 annual wage with one exemption, the proposed income tax levy would cost a taxpayer $209 per year. The levy would not have an expiration date, and would bring in an estimated $2.1 million annually.
    The income tax would help cover a forecasted operating deficit of $108,562 in 2005, increasing to $4.06 million by 2007. Many local school districts are adding levies to cover projected deficits due to cuts in state education funding.
    The 6.92-mill bond levy would include the 4.1 mills approved in 1998 for renovations to East and West elementary schools and an additional 2.82 mills. The 4.1 mills was to expire in 2006.
    This levy would cost taxpayers $100 per year based on a $100,000 home. The bond levy would have an approximate 25-year life span and would bring in $27 million for the project.
    The total construction project cost is estimated at $54.7 million with $33.9 million being paid by the Ohio School Facilities Commission. The $27 million brought in by taxpayers, plus the OSFCšs $33.9 million will give the school system $60.9 million for the project. The extra money may be used to do additional work not covered by OSFC, such as building athletic complexes and a fine arts center, school board members have said.
    The school board approved the construction plan in May, which includes building a new middle school to house grades 5-8 and a new high school with a career technology center for grades 9-12. There also will be renovations to East and West elementary schools, with East to house grades prekindergarten through first and West to be used for grades 2 through 4.
    The plan also call for the abandonment of Moulton and Noble elementary schools, McBroom junior high and Memorial high schools.
    Board members also approved a management contract with Gilbane Building Company, Columbus, to oversee the construction of the school if the bond levy passes. Business Manager Kurt Kuffner said no fee will be paid if the bond levy does not pass.
    "One of the things that is exciting is that they are managing 17 (Ohio School Facilities Commission) projects right now," Kuffner said. "They are ranked by Engineering News Record as the number one school construction managing company in the nation. They work with students to include them in on the project and teach them about the process in building a new school. I think that is very unique. Supervisors will come into the classroom and explain each phase and get the students into it."
    Superintendent Paul Blaine added that having a construction manager is beneficial.
    "They will assist in planning a bond levy with better information," Blaine said. "The earlier they start planning the more efficient the building process is. If you wait longer, you donšt save as much. It usually pays for itself. We are saving the taxpayers money by having a construction manager."
    The board announced that Ron Gorby, Kathy Sampson and Tami Sanford have been selected to the levy campaign team to educate the public on the need for both levies. Blaine added one or two others may added to the committee.
    Kuffner said display boards of what the school may look like were posted at the SummerFest this past weekend.
    "People were very excited about the way the new school looked," Kuffner said. They were based on pictures taken by people that attended the vision planning meetings. Architects looked at photos and tried to map the school out to what the people within the community liked. Our community has already played an important role in the construction of the new school."
    Assistant Superintendent Todd Yohey gave board members a brief review of the statešs passage of House Bill 3, which took affect Tuesday and moves the state into compliance with the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
    Yohey said  the law affects qualifying teachers, parent involvement, qualifications for educational aides, Internet safety, gun-free schools, allowing military recruiters in high schools, how daily attendance is determined and prayer provision.
    "It  probably impacts every aspect of what we do with the school," Yohey said. "We will be paying attention to it over next few months and use it in our decision making.
     Blaine said teachers are concerned with changes it will make in state report card.
    "This law will bring more kids into the report card statistics, such as special education or non-English speaking students," he said.
    In other business, the board:
    - Accepted the resignation of Kendra Heckathorn, a permanent substitute. Heckathorn said the resignation was due to a temporary career change.
    - Accepted the resignation of Kendra Chiles, who accepted a position with the Mercer County Educational Service Center.
    - Accepted the resignation of Todd Armstrong as head track coach. Armstrong said he wanted to start work on his masteršs degree and wanted to spend more time with his family.
    - Accepted tuition rates for out-of-district students at $2,497.35
    - Approved special education agreements with the Logan County Educational Service Center to provide services for vision impaired St. Marys students.
    - Approved the sale of equipment no longer needed for the machine trades program at the Dennings Vocational Building.
    - Approved a move that will start school five minutes earlier and will end five minutes earlier. The move was made to give all of career tech students a chance to take four class periods at Memorial High School and be in line with other schools for vocational schooling purposes.


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