May 15, 2003
front page
more news
ad information
contact information


School board business—
Fall ballot may see two school levies

Yellow Springs Superintendent Tony Armocida recommended last week that the school board place two levies on the November ballot.

“We’ve got some needs we can’t ignore,” said Armocida, who recommended a renewal and reduction of the current permanent improvement levy, which will expire this year, and a renewal and reduction of the current emergency levy, which will expire in 2004.

Armocida made the recommendation at the school board’s meeting May 8.

The permanent improvement levy would fund updated technology for Mills Lawn School, the McKinney School and YSHS, new school bus purchases, repair of parking lots and an updated fire-alarm system, Armocida said.

Funds from the emergency levy support the school district’s regular operations.

After the meeting, Armocida stressed that the levies are not new funding, but are a continuation of current funding at a reduced rate.

“This is not additional money,” he said. “We’re asking taxpayers to pay a little less than they are paying now.”

Two years ago, the board asked local taxpayers to adopt a 1 percent school income tax to help provide more stable funding for the district. At the time, school officials said that if the income tax passed, which it did, the school system would let one of its three levies, a 7.5-mill emergency levy, expire, and would seek to lower the amount of the other two levies. Those levies are the ones being considered now.

“This plan would help the board keep its promise to reduce taxes,” Armocida said at Thursday’s meeting.

If the board accepts Armocida’s recommendation, it would ask taxpayers to fund a 0.6-mill permanent improvement levy, compared to the current levy’s 1.3 effective millage, which would reduce the district’s income from the levy by $74,900 per year. The five-year levy would provide the schools $64,200 a year, which would include $50,000 for technology upgrades and $14,200 for bus purchases.

The tax savings for a local property owner would be $24.50 on each assessed $100,000 of property value, according to Armocida.

The emergency levy requested, which has a current effective rate of 10.1 mills, and generates $1,087,000, would be reduced to 9.9 mills, a reduction of $21,400 per year, which officials plan to cover through a more aggressive open-enrollment initiative, Armocida said.

Officials recommended the district combine the two levies on one ballot to avoid asking taxpayers to approve ballot issues two years in a row, Armocida said.

Funding for local schools has been influenced by several recent factors, some positive and some negative, Armocida said. On the negative side, the schools suffered a drop in funding from the property tax loss of the ongoing closure of Vernay’s Dayton Street plants, but much of that loss was offset by Greene County’s recent reappraisal of property taxes.

Other factors that have reduced funding include a reduction of almost $28,770 in state funding, an anticipated shortfall of $116,000 of local income taxes due to the weak economy, and an increased cost to the district of $90,000 for employees’ benefits. These losses are balanced by income from sale of the Morgan Building to the Greene County Educational Services Center, which provided a $180,000 profit to the schools, and interest from the building bond issue.

Armocida said that the board needs to consider whether to go ahead with the levy requests.

“A levy campaign is a big deal,” he said. “It takes a lot of work and energy.”

Board members agreed to discuss Armocida’s proposal in the future.

* * *

In other school board business:

• The board accepted the resignation of Evelyn Nickoson, who has worked as a school bus driver for 27 years. “Generations of children have been under her guidance,” Armocida said. “Everyone will miss her. We’re sorry to see her go.”

• The board approved a recommendation that Rebecca O’Brien serve as Mills Lawn Summer School coordinator for the 2003 summer tutorial program. The board also approved as Mills Lawn summer tutors Shanna Winks, Margaret Morgan, Dorothy Poortinga, Debra Mabra and Linda Sikes, all at $25 an hour.

• The board approved the School Forest summer work program, with John Day as supervisor.

• The board approved the 2003–04 Education Plan.

• The school board approved a contract with Greene County Educational Services Center for $270,000 of services. The contract covers a variety of services for children with special needs.

“I’m very pleased” with the center’s services, Armocida said. “We’re only paying for what we actually get, and it’s more cost effective to work through them than to have the personnel ourselves.”

• After a presentation by Jody Chick, coordinator of special education, the board agreed to adopt the narrative format version of the Model Procedures for the Education of Children with Disabilities.

• Following a presentation by YSHS/McKinney School music teacher Yvonne Wingard, the board approved a grant proposal for a “Start a Guitar Program” at McKinney, which will be submitted to the Yellow Springs Endowment for Education.

• The board approved a five-year forecast for revenues and expenditures.

• The school board approved an application to Ohio Department of Education for five waiver days for the 2003–04 school year, to be used for professional development by staff members.

• The board agreed to hold a second meeting this month, on Thursday, May 22, at 7:30 p.m., at the Morgan Building. A Committee of the Whole meeting, the meeting will showcase YSHS senior projects.

—Diane Chiddister