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Edison Schools place emergency levy on May ballot

Alissa Widman Neese • Feb 2, 2013 at 5:20 AM

School board members agreed Wednesday to place a five-year, 7.9-mill emergency operating levy on the May ballot.

The decision came after a nearly hour-long discussion of four options ranging from 4.9 to 7.9 mills, with board members ultimately concurring the largest option was the only “workable” one.

The levy would generate nearly $1.8 million a year for the district, costing the owner of a $100,000 home about $240 a year.

“Every person I’ve contacted has told me to ask for what we need — we need to go beyond just getting through one year,” board member Jodi Harris said. “It’s not fair to our community or our students.”

The district is projected to run a deficit of nearly $75,000 in the 2013-2014 school year and more than $2.5 million in 2014-2015, according to its five-year forecast. Its budget is about $14 million.

If voters approve the May levy, however, the district could see a surplus of about $894,000 in the 2013-2014 school year and about $209,000 in 2014-2015. The district would still face a deficit of more than $1 million by 2016.

“We’re asking for a bare minimum 7.9 mills — I know it doesn’t sound right,” board member Mark Miller said.

If approved, board members said the funds could possibly eliminate pay-to-play athletic fees and pay for additional elementary school teachers.

“Instead of focusing on cuts for the next couple of years we could focus on students again,” board member Mark Suhanic said. “It’s up to the community to take care of us. We can’t wait for the state to do it any longer.”

About 20 people attended Wednesday’s meeting.

Matt McClester, a Berlin Heights resident and district parent, opened the meeting’s discussion speaking in favor of a 4.9-mill or 5.9-mill levy option. He still remains a

levy advocate after the board’s decision.

“I’ll support any option, but many people I’ve talked to said the best way to get it passed is a smaller levy,” McClester said. “But if 7.9 mills is what’s needed, they’re really in a catch-22.”

The district hasn’t approved an emergency operating levy since May 2005, treasurer Anne Arnold said. Voters most recently rejected a 3.5-mill option in November.

Levy Proposal

Millage: 7.9

Length: Five years

Would generate: $1.8 million a year

Cost: Annual cost to owner of $100,000 home would be about $240

Use: Would pay for day-to-day expenses, including salaries and benefits for employees, utilities, classroom supplies, maintenance of property and buildings, among other services

Note: All figures rounded

Source: Edison Schools


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