2007-02-24 / News

Lakewood delays levy vote to November

By Charles Prince

HEBRON - Lakewood School Board members decided Monday night to wait until November to ask district voters for more money.

The district was running out of time to meet the February 22 deadline to get a levy on the May ballot. Board members were concerned that they didn't have all the information needed to make a good decision.

Superintendent Jay Gault agreed with the decision to wait until the November election. "We had some barriers in front of us," he added. District officials were having difficultyin getting accurate information on such short notice.

"It was a gallant effort to try to get something done," President Tim Spitzer said. He cited the uncertainty about the possible constitutional amendment for school funding and the yet to-beproposed two-year state budget as reasons for waiting until November. "We'll have a better handle (this fall) on what we need," Spitzer explained. "We're not rushing into anything. We want our voters to be informed. We'll do our homework."

A five-year emergency levy approved by voters in May 2003 expires after tax year 2007. It will be collected through calendar year 2008. Residential and agricultural property owners are currently paying 5.97 mills.

"We need something to get us through 2009 and 2010," Gault said. The district expects to lose $1.6 million in tangible personal property taxes as the tax winds down that tax. The tax is paid primarily by businesses based on inventories and equipment.

Spitzer said the district now has plenty of time for discussion and mentioned a possible public forum in May. "It's imperative that we educate our voters," Board member Joe Bowman Jr. said.

Board members unanimously approved a motion declaring their intent to be on the November ballot.

In other business Monday night, Director of Pupil Services Arnie Ettenhofer said the district is considering a point-of-sale system for cafeterias. Parents could pay ahead for lunches with students using a card or finger scan to "charge" their lunch. Parents might also be able to track, via the Internet, what their child is eating for lunch. By speeding up the lunch lines, it could reduce staffing needs, Gault added. Ettenhofer said rumors that the district plans to outsource cafeteria services are false. He said there has been no discussion of outsourcing.

Board members also approved a course in ceramics for next school year. It will be an elective and taught by the current art teacher who has extensive experience.

Five supplemental contracts were also approved: Pam Hundley as Future City advisor, Jason Boland as reserve baseball coach, Ron Keener as freshman baseball coach, Scott Elwer as assistant boys track coach and Sarah Robinson as assistant girls track coach. Board members also accepted Susan Bentz's resignation as speech/language pathologist and Betty George's retirement as head cook at Hebron Elementary. Both are effective at the end of the school year. Three year contracts effective next school year were approved for Marilyn Fox as Hebron Elementary Principal and Jeffery Geist as middle school assistant principal.

Lakewood students must make up at least four school days. The days will be added to the end of the school schedule.

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