By WILLIAM PAHL
Sandusky City Schools superintendent
Sandusky City Schools provide quality education for all youth in the city.
Academically talented students have college prep, honors and advanced placement courses. Classes and opportunities for academically and physically challenged students are plentiful. The schools are second to none in this part of the state in technology.
Sandusky High students can choose a rigorous academic program, a vocational schedule or academic and career/technical classes together. Fine arts include art, music and drama. The high school offers 20 interscholastic sports teams, club sports and intramural activities. During the annual high school achievement awards program hundreds of thousands of dollars are awarded by the community to deserving students.
Twenty percent of SCS students are on individualized education plans. In many instances, special needs students require a team of professionals to meet their specific needs. Many kindergarten children come to the first day of classes without sufficient skills to be successful students. It generally takes several years for those students to achieve at their grade level. The district is proud of the effort of the staff.
A Reading First federal grant addresses deficient reading in through grade 3. The district was awarded a Safe Schools/Healthy Students federal grant. Over the last four years, the school district has improved from Academic Emergency to Academic Watch and is now rated in Continuous Improvement on the state report card. Sandusky High and Ontario Elementary schools are rated Effective.
The district employs 576 people serving 4,000 students. The general fund budget tops $40 million with a total budget of $56 million. A comprehensive plan for cost reductions addresses long-term financial conditions. In the last three years, Campbell and Monroe elementary schools have been closed, along with Barker Alternative School. Barker students are now housed in the high school. Also, 63 district-wide jobs have been reduced. These actions save the district $3 million annually. There has been no increase in the budget for salaries in the last two years.
We are grateful for the community's support of our schools.
Starting in 1976, HB 920 prevented inflationary growth in property taxes statewide. Even with property re-appraisals, the amount of money collected from voted levies cannot increase. Consequently, the effective millage for our school district is LESS than it was in 1976. Millions of dollars are directed to our schools annually through grants. Coupled with diligent financial planning, voters receive a greater return on their dollars today than they did 31 years ago.
Tuesday, Sandusky voters will be asked to vote on Issue 9, a 5.4 mill ($2.7 million per year) operating levy. The benefits far outweigh the cost of the levy (45 cents per day for a $100,000 home).
This levy will provide the first additional tax revenue for the schools in four years. Next year will be the third year the state has frozen our revenue. That equates to a $1 million per year loss to inflation.
This levy is essential to maintain current school operations. The levy will not fund new buildings or new programs. Even with this levy, we will need to make budget cuts. For information about the levy, see www.streakpride.org
One of the greatest assets of any community is a sound and financially stable school system. Sandusky has historically supported its schools and the children need your support one more time. By supporting this levy, Sandusky will maintain a critical and valuable asset -- opportunity for our youth.