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Board to wait until November for levy renewal

MILLERSPORT – Walnut Township School Board members decided Monday night to wait until next November to ask voters to renew an emergency operating levy.

The five year levy raises $258,000 a year and will be collected through 2009. The first renewal effort last month gained six votes after all absentee and provisional ballots were counted, but still fell short by 26 votes. The district has three more opportunities to renew it – next May, a special August election and next November – without interrupting collection.

But putting it on the May ballot or holding a special election in August is costly. Superintendent Ron Thornton said the best case cost would be $22,000 – if other issues are on the ballot and the worst case is $31,500 – if it’s the only issue.

“We can wait until November and it is taking a chance,” Thornton said. “In November, we’re in the crunch.” If voters turn it down again in November, it could not be collected in 2010.

“If we wait until November, we’ll have to know what we plan to do if it doesn’t pass,” he added. Some voters might consider those cuts a threat, Thornton said, but the district has to have the money.

“I prefer November,” board member Vince Popo said. “I think we would be wasting money to put it on in May.” Board members Carol King and Faye Whitaker agreed that the cost of a May or August election is just too high.

Though no one objected to waiting until November, board members have until February to change their mind about the May election.

In other business Monday night, board members accepted a $6,900 donation from Commodore Bank for the purchase of a new scorers’ table and chairs for the high school gym and individual $1,800 donations from Tom Jones Insurance and Whetstone Medical Clinic for a scoreboard for the baseball field.

High school principal Charles Leedle reported that donations for White Christmas are down a bit. Deliveries will be made Thursday to 50 families using volunteer drivers from the Millersport Lions Club.

Leedle said high school students will be taking semester exams Wednesday through Friday, instead of when they return from Christmas break. The change, he said, keeps students focused before the break, relieves the stress of impending exams over the break and, most important, gives teachers two weeks in early to focus on areas of need. Two letters were mailed home, explaining the change to parents.

In response to a question from Popo, Leedle said he is still working out the details to accommodate a request for open gym at the high school, possibly on Wednesday evenings and Sunday afternoons. A request to use the elementary gym on Sunday afternoons should be directed to the elementary principal, Thornton said.

Two supplemental contracts were approved:

• Ken Keener as head track coach; and

• Steve Pierce as assistant track coach.

James Murphy and Rachel Marie Thomas were hired as non-teaching substitutes on an as-needed basis.

The board’s next regular meeting will begin at 6:45 p.m. with a reorganization meeting on Monday, Jan. 12 in the elementary school library.

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