By JANIE SOUTHARD
Celina City Schools will be on the March ballot with an emergency
operating levy aimed at bringing in $2.65 million annually for
School Treasurer Mike Marbaugh estimated the levy would be between
7.9 and 8 mills. The actual millage will be determined by the
Mercer County auditor.
It is a move district Super-intendent Fred Wiswell called a
“short term fix” during a special meeting of the
school board Monday.
“We’ll still need additional cuts and reductions
in our district programming and staffing as well,” Wiswell
told board members. “Because we can’t possibly ask
for enough (money) from taxpayers to actually fix the budget.”
The reduction plan, which will be similar to last year’s
plan which reduced staffing and closed Franklin Elementary School,
must be filed with the state by January 31. The 2004 reduction
plan is expected to be considered at the January 19 regular
“We’re certainly challenged to continue analyzing
our staffing, programming and operations to make those reductions
which are responsible versus those that will be harmful to the
quality and variety of programming we offer,” Wiswell
said adding he believes interscholastic athletics and extracurriculars
to be very important to the well-rounded learning experience.
State budget cuts last year and included in the biennium budget
have put hundreds of Ohio’s schools in dire financial
straights compounded by the No Child Left Behind Program, which
is federally mandated but not totally federally funded.
Celina has not received any new money at the polls since 1997.
The two levies passed last May replace revenue lost through
the failure of eight levy attempts.
With hundreds of Ohio school districts forced to return to taxpayers
due to the state cuts to education, board President Cindy Piper
said her fear is that if communities do pass levies to support
the schools, “ the state will say ‘Oh, we can get
them to do it; so let’s cut more.’ ”
Piper, who did not seek reelection and is serving her final
month on the board, expressed concern for her colleagues and
new board members who will be plunged again into the funding
“The state promised us a 2.8 percent increase but actually
dropped us back to 2.2 percent. Those were promises not fulfilled.
If we do nothing and put it back on the state, the big cost
will be to our children,” Piper said.
The board unanimously voted to go back to the polls in March,
although each member expressed frustration and regret at having
to turn again to the community for money.
“We understand the community’s feeling that enough
is enough and paying more taxes is becoming very difficult as
workers are not seeing any raises.
“But our responsibility is to provide a quality, high
level education,” Wiswell said.
In other business, the board tapped newly elected board member
Amy Hoyng to complete the term of Joe Bath, who resigned on
Nov. 18 due to job relocation. Bath’s term expires Dec.
Hoyng and Tom Rable, the second board member elected in November,
will be sworn in at the January meeting.