Margaretta Schools: It's a levy or deep cuts

MARGARETTA TWP. The future of Margaretta Local Schools lies in the voters' hands. The
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010



The future of Margaretta Local Schools lies in the voters' hands.

The district's financial outlook, outlined in the five-year forecast, has left the board of education with two options: Ask the community for additional revenue or drastically cut educational services.

"We don't have to have a levy," treasurer Jude Hammond said. "But if we don't, the only other alternative would be to cut educational services exponentially."

Hammond had previously presented the forecast in a board work session. Members briefly discussed options during the Monday meeting.

The forecast originally predicted financial trouble by 2009, but after drastically reducing expenditures after the last two failed levies, the district may be able to break even for another year or so.

"We don't want to ask anyone for more taxes," superintendent Ed Kurt said. "Nobody wants to pay more taxes. It's been 11 years since we've passed a levy. We're at the point where we're going to have to get something passed."

To save money this past school year, the district cut several staff positions, implemented one bus route and is consolidating elementary buildings.

"We're at the point where if we cut any more staff, it's going to negatively impact student achievement," Kurt said. "That's the last thing I, or any of us, want to see happen."

Hammond said he's estimated the district will need to generate about $1.4 million a year for five years to keep the district afloat.

"We've only ever asked for what we really need," board member Mike Myers said. "Can you prepare a chart for us, something showing exactly how much we would need each year?"

Hammond said he would prepare charts to help the board decide a minimum starting figure and time period.

The board will also have to decide between an income tax or property tax levy before placing the issue on the November ballot.

Kurt said he wants the community to be involved in the decision.

"We're going to seek community engagement to determine what is most viable for the district," he said. "We've always believed the best levy is the one that passes."

A survey will be sent out to voters within the next month.

"If we don't have a levy on the ballot or pass one, it would adversely impact student achievement," Kurt said, shaking his head. "That is not something we want to see happen to our kids."

In other board news, a proposal has been drawn up to generate an estimated $25,000.

"We've drawn up an activity fee proposal," Kurt said. "We'd like for the board to review it and see if this is something we want to look at."

The proposal outlines a $10 parking fee and seasonal activity fee dependent on grade level and economic status.

"We've looked into this, and many other schools have found success in pay-to-participate programs," Kurt said. "There will be a cap dollar amount for families, and we've discussed options for students on free and reduced lunches. I'd like the board to consider this option and possibly make a decision at July's meeting."