Tuesday, April 29th, 2014
By Kathy Thompson
St. Henry residents to decide on school levy
ST. HENRY - Residents on Tuesday will decide the fate of an emergency 9.1-mill levy to maintain operating expenses at St. Henry Consolidated Local Schools.
The proposed five-year levy - which would renew the current 7.0-mill levy with an increase of 2.1 mills - would cost taxpayers with a home valued at $100,000 an additional $59.50 a year for a total of $285.
If approved, the levy would bring in $1,010,000 annually. The money would benefit the general fund and operating costs, and help pay for expenses such as textbooks, utility bills and wages, officials said.
The current levy expires in December. If the issue fails Tuesday, the district would have a projected deficit of $1.9 million by 2018 and would have to lay off personnel and cut some services, according to school board president Paul Moorman. He said board members and administrators would review all options to reduce the budget with a minimum impact on student education "but a reduction in revenue will be difficult to overcome without a reduction in staffing and services."
"We have a great school district with wonderful kids and parents," Moorman said. "The board intends to maintain the level of excellence that has been established. Failure of the levy will require the board to make cuts commencing with the start of the 2014-2015 school year. The breadth and depth of those cuts will be discussed as soon as the school year ends."
If the levy fails, board members won't assume the issue would pass if it is placed on the November ballot; cuts will be made to staffing and services this fall, he said.
In recent years, the school has cut expenses by eliminating or reducing several positions including a curriculum director, media center coordinator, guidance counselor, special education teacher, middle school teacher, math teacher, business education teacher, reading specialist, a Project Lead the Way teacher and a vocal music teacher, according to superintendent Rod Moorman.
Also eliminated were three bus drivers, a custodian and a classroom and bus aide, he added.
During the past five years, the school board has accepted 24 teacher retirements and expects eight more to retire in the next 10 years, Rod Moorman said. Enrollment at the school has declined by about 150 students in the past few years and he doesn't believe there will be an increase anytime soon, he said.
Voters passed a five-year, 1.21-mill levy two years ago, which collects about $114,700 annually for capital improvements. A resident with a $100,000 home pays $37.27 per year for that levy.