Perkins Township school officials said they want people to know they're doing their due diligence in saving money, but the upcoming levy will still be necessary.
District school board members are looking to put a levy on the ballot in November to keep them out of the red in fiscal year 2009, but worry voters have negative feelings toward the district because of recent teacher strikes and arbitration. They are also concerned recent levies have failed.
Although the district always looks for ways to save money, Treasurer Lisa Crescimano said, this duty is especially necessary given the upcoming levy and financial troubles.
"I just think it's our responsibility to tax payers to get things at the best prices we can," she said. "Obviously we want to avoid a levy, but either way we want the best prices."
One way the district is looking to save money is by buying in bulk. The district began centralized purchasing all school supplies in July.
"Instead of each teacher going out and purchasing their supplies, all supplies are purchased through the treasurer's department," Crescimano said.
By buying in bulk, the district has saved more than $75,000 since July. And she said the district plans to stretch that practice into other areas.
The district plans to pre-pay for electricity in bulk, part of the Energy for Education II program. The program is through First Energy Corp. and saves districts an average of 14.5 percent on electricity.
"You're purchasing ahead of time so you get a discounted rate," Crescimano said.
Through a bit of comparison shopping, the district also saved $27,000 by switching property insurance carriers, reducing its deductible from $10,000 to $250.
Board Vice President Steven Schuster said that these cost-saving measures are the first of many tough decisions the district will have to make in the days leading up to and after the levy.
"I think before we put a levy on the ballot, it's a two-phased approach," he said. "The first phase is that we do a lot of soul searching and eliminate things that make sense to eliminate, enhance things that need to be enhanced. Then we stop and reflect again because the next wave you are going to cut into more of who you are and what you are."
But Schuster said the district can only do so much -- it's up to voters to decide what the image of Perkins schools will be in the years to come.
"That's the step that, as a board, we decide who we want to be and the product we want to deliver to our students," Schuster said. "You let the taxpayer decide who you're going to be."