2014-07-26 / News

Walnut Township rolling the dice on levies

By Scott Rawdon

MILLERSPORT- It may seem like a risky strategy at first, but it’s not really when one looks at the facts, said Walnut Township Schools Treasurer Kirk Grandy Monday night. “It will be additional money (from) the taxpayers,” he said.

Monday night, board members unanimously approved a resolution declaring the intent to place a renewal emergency tax levy with an increase on the November ballot. The current emergency levy which must be renewed every five years is 1.8 mills, which generates $258,000 per year. The intent is to add an additional 7 mills for a total of 8.8 mills, which would raise $1 million per year. The additional revenue would kept the school district solvent through 2017.

Voters have renewed the original emergency levy several times. The risk is that if voters reject the additional 7 mills, the district also loses the $258,000 from the existing levy, digging its financial hole even deeper. Grandy counters that the $258,000 doesn’t pay for much, anyway. “We had to do it this way,” he said.

“This is the only way we’re going to keep our school,” said board president Faye Whitaker.

“Without the school, Millersport would be a ghost town,” said assistant treasurer Brenda Amspaugh.

“If this doesn’t pass, we’ll struggle to be in the black this year,” Grandy added.

Board members are struggling with deficit spending and a projected $433,270 deficit for the new fiscal year, which began July 1. That deficit grows to $1,491,599 in fiscal year 2016 and $2,673,889 in fiscal year 2017.

Voters overwhelmingly rejected an additional 6.9 mill levy on May 6.

Previously, Grandy said the district has deficit spent for the last three years. Even if voters approve a levy to raise $1 million, cost cuts will still be necessary and the district would need to return to the ballot in a couple years. Grandy said the district is at a great disadvantage because it’s nearly 80 percent locally funded; the state only provides about 20 percent of the district’s revenue. He said Walnut Township school district voters could either approve additional levies and keep the district solvent, or reject levies and allow another district to absorb Walnut Township Schools, in which case district residents would pay even higher taxes.

Cotner said Wednesday that he’s not sure yet how much the levy would cost residents per $100,000 home value, but he expects to know soon.

In other district news:

Board members established a $30 workbook/supply fee per student for K-6 students. Food prices were also approved:

• Reduced price breakfast for all grades - free; K-6 breakfast - $0.75 and 7-12 breakfast - $1;

• Reduced price lunch: All grades - $0.40;

• Type “A” lunch: K-6 - $2.25 and 7-12 - $2.55.

Board members accepted the resignations of Jason Minosky as elementary intervention specialist and Tena Singleton as bus driver. Katie Gilreath was hired as an elementary teacher and Barbara Raynard was hired as a special needs bus driver.

The following supplemental contracts were approved:

• Delmer Barr, head girls basketball coach;

• John Kaminsky, head boys basketball coach;

• Steve Mohler, high school music/slect director and school pay director;

• Noelle Harkabus, jazz band director;

• Steve Harris and Megan Terry, co-Quiz Team advisors;

• Michelle Peters, yearbook advisor;

• Megan Terry, sophomore class advisor;

• Joe Brownfield, district webmaster and junior/senior high webmaster;

• Mary Ford, elementary webmaster;

• Gretchen Schroeder, National Honor Society;

• Smmer Montanez, Spanish Club;

• Heather Hayden-Carey, German Club;

• Sarah Arruda, Art Club;

• Kim Yenni, spelling bee coordinator;

• Bill Yates, senior class advisor;

• Adam Booze and Chris Butts, assistant football coaches;

• Ken Hardy, head junior high football coach; and

• Tyler VanHorn, assistant junior high football coach.

Five volunteer football coach were recognized: Tom Blodgett, Larry Dermer, Caleb Gorsuch, Doug Harkins and Shawn Ziegler. Charles Gleich was recognized as a volunteer volleyball coach.

Cotner said in case this coming winter is as brutal as the previous, he doesn’t want to waste any time telling the Ohio Department of Education that Walnut Township School will utilize the three Blizzard Bag Days – schools are closed, but students complete assignments from home – this winter that the state offers all Ohio districts if necessary. “That can buy us three days,” he said.

Otherwise, Cotner said Walnut Township would follow suit with the rest of the state whereby, according to the Ohio Department of Education, Ohio schools will change to an hour-based schedule and no longer have calamity days. Instead, schools may schedule “excess” hours above the minimum number. Hours missed above the minimum do not have to be made up. However, if a school closes enough that it will fall below the minimum number of hours, the school must extend its scheduled year. For example:

• High School A is scheduled to be open for instruction for 1,001 hours, the minimum required with no excess hours. During the winter, bad weather forces the school to close for 32 hours. High School A would be required be required to make up the 32 hours of instruction.

• High School B is scheduled to be open for instruction for 1,040 hours, giving the school 39 excess hours, or hours above the minimum. During the winter, bad weather forces the school to close for 32 hours. High School B is not required to make up the 32 hours of instruction that were missed. It still has 7 excess hours remaining for the year.

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