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The Daily



12-02-03: Celina schools to seek new levy as temporary fix


Celina City Schools will be on the March ballot with an emergency operating levy aimed at bringing in $2.65 million annually for three years.
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 board meeting.
“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 quest.
“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. 31.
Hoyng and Tom Rable, the second board member elected in November, will be sworn in at the January meeting.


Phone: (419)586-2371,   Fax: (419)586-6271
All content copyright 2003
The Standard Printing Company
P.O. Box 140, Celina, OH 45822