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02-18-04: Parkway school board seeks improvement levy renewal


Officials at Parkway Local Schools have been pinching pennies to keep the school budget in line to offset state funding cuts and ever increasing insurance costs.
The district’s five-year, 1.5-mill permanent improvement levy expires in December, and voters are being asked to renew the levy at the March 2 primary.
Passage of the five-year levy is important, school Superintendent Doug Karst said.
“Any money into the district is critical at this point. We’re not getting the state funding we hoped for. If the levy is not renewed, we would have to use operating money for those improvements that would have been covered by the improvement levy. And the operating funds are where we’re already having shortfalls (because of state funding cuts),” Karst said.
The $103,000 that is generated annually from the permanent improvement levy can be used only for improvements or purchases that will last more than five years, he said. The money can be used for bus, computer and equipment purchases, along with facility upgrades.
“This is not a new tax. It is the first renewal of the five-year levy,” he said.
If the levy passes, it will cost the owner of a $100,000 home nearly $36 annually in property taxes.
“We’re hoping to use some of the money on our new building project, to help cover items not covered by the Ohio School Facilities Commission (OSFC),” Karst said.
Ground will be broken this spring for the district’s new, one-site educational complex at the south edge of Rockford. The $36 million school construction project is being funded with $24 million from the OSFC and $11.75 million from an 8.8-mill levy approved by voters in November 2002.
At the Parkway board of education meeting in January, it was announced the school’s projected budget for fiscal year 2005 shows expenses outweighing revenue for the second year in a row.
If cuts in state funding continue and there are no increases in revenue, the board is predicting a $1.6 million deficit for 2008. Many districts in the area are trying to get voters to approve new levies for operating costs to offset budget deficits — something Parkway has not yet done. The levy on the March ballot is a renewal and not new money.
Karst recently announced a number of actions will be taken to trim the budget. Staffing positions will be eliminated through a reduction in work force and retirement, he said, and discretionary spending (supplies, materials and equipment) will come to a standstill.
Also, the driver’s education course has been eliminated, which will save the district nearly $12,000, and fees for summer physical education for high school credit will more than double.


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