By Janie Southard
Eight Celina school levies on the ballot over the next eight years is what Celina voters will face.
But, even if all pass as currently written, there will still be a whopping deficit on the five-year financial forecast. Board members already are gearing up for a return to the polls in May 2006.
The levies are the same three on the books now, simply coming up for renewal on their voter-approved cycles of three and five years. Unless those cycles are changed when levy language is determined by the board, there will be a levy on the ballot every year for five years and three more renewals in years 2012 and 2013.
"And, we'll still have a deficit of approximately $4.3 million by fiscal year 2010," said district Treasurer Mike Marbaugh following the Monday night board of education meeting.
Five-year forecasts are at best a planning tool and subject to change almost daily, as Marbaugh has told board members many times during the past several years. This year, state funding (House Bill 66) is still up in the air as legislators try to calculate exactly what funding will be allotted to the more than 600 state-wide school districts. "Over many years I've never seen the need for any levy to go away, and I've never seen the state step up to help," said board member Mary Lehman, whose board seat will be assumed by Cindy Piper at the beginning of 2006.
There are options that board members and Superintendent Matt Miller talked about during an informational levy discussion, one being to combine levies.
"That would bring one levy up to about 14 mills, which may not sit well with voters, although it's the same as two levies we have now -- and we'd want to maybe make it continuing (rather than a three- or five-year term)," Lehman said.
In a long-range levy forecast (2005-2013) prepared by district administration and distributed to an audience of about two dozen people, mostly school staff, Miller highlighted the current levies:
¥ Levy one, which will expire at the end of calendar year 2006, is a three-year, emergency property tax that generates 6.8 mills, or $2.25 million. This is the levy voters will likely see in May.
¥ Levy two, which expires at the end of calendar 2007, is also a three-year, emergency property tax generating 7.9 mills, or $2.65 million.
¥ Levy three, a five-year income tax levy, which collects three-quarters of 1 percent ($2.25 million), will expire at the end of 2008.
Board members agreed to get information together that will allow them to make definite levy proposals by the Dec. 19 meeting. They expect a work session will be necessary but did not set a date.
"Levies are a necessary evil that take up our time, time when we could be educating," Miller said. "Five levies in the next five years, it's going to be very difficult."
In other action, board members:
¥ Accepted a donation of $20,000 from the Celina Athletic Boosters for use in the CAPT addition behind the high school.
¥ Approved six substitute teachers: Cory Howell, Paul Klosterman, Angela Knapschaefer, Amanda Roehm, Jeffrey Springer and Rene Suchland.
¥ Hired Jim Klosterman as ninth-grade girls basketball coach.
¥ Learned of a $500 donation from Wal-Mart to the high school music program in recognition of the band playing at the retailer's grand opening.
¥ Learned of a donation from the local Kiwanis for the purchase of equipment for cup stacking, a mind puzzle activity that builds eye-hand coordination.