CCS contemplates levy

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The Columbus City Schools Board of Education announced the upcoming creation of a Columbus City Schools (CCS) Operating Levy Advisory Committee to research and make recommendations to the board regarding the addition of a levy to the 2008 ballot.

Dr. Terry Boyd, board president, will have the responsibility of naming appointees to this advisory committee, but did not say who they are at this time.

“We’ll probably piggyback on the time we did it on the last levy,” said Boyd at the Nov. 20 board meeting, referring to how the appointees are determined.

“We had a number of professionals, we had a number of economists, we had a member from the Audit and Accountability Committee, we had representation from the Columbus Education Association, representation from the business community, representation from the parental community, the typical direct stake-holders for such a levy.”

Boyd said the committee will review CCS’s financial state for the short and long term and make their recommendations to the board of education as to whether they agree a levy is necessary and what millage they recommend for the district.

“We will provide them with information as it pertains to current funding, maybe the cost of funding for additional programs and various services, and they will take that message from us and have a series of community meetings, get some feedback about how the community feels about some of the suggestions that the administration might make, and they’ll come back and inform the board of what they find,” said Boyd.

Dr. Michael Kinneer stopped short of admitting he will more than likely find himself appointed to this committee, but he did acknowledge it would make sense for him as the district’s chief financial officer to be on the committee.

According to Kinneer, it is also likely there will be a levy on the 2008 ballot.

“We know what the numbers are when we look at the five-year forecast and we know that if we go beyond 2009, we start to have a deficit, and so it’s necessary to return to the voters, and that’s what we talked about in 2004, that we would return back to voters in ‘08, said Kinneer.

“What drives those kinds of conversations is indeed the five-year forecast. Where are we going to be four years from now, what type of millage we need, so that’ll all be part of that conversation.”

Kinneer admitted long-term financial concerns would also be a concern for the board and the committee. House Bill 66, which phases out taxes on tangible personal property of general businesses, telephone and telecommunications companies and railroads will start getting phased out in 2011 for CCS funding.

Kinneer confirms in a CCS 2007-2008 Annual Report that while the bill will replace the funds lost for the time being, by 2017 the district will lose that tax funding completely.

“The shortfalls between the phase-out, all that will be taken into consideration when they talk about the needs of the district,” said Kinneer.

The board also discussed the Ends Monitoring Report in regards to “non-core” courses, such as arts, physical education, health, technology and world languages.

Harris said the reduced participation numbers across the elementary, middle school and high school are deceiving, saying since CCS no longer offers the short-term, six-week version of these courses and instead offers longer in-depth courses, students are enrolled in less courses than in previous times.

She also said there is no standardized testing for these types of courses since they are not “core” courses the state tests for, such as math, reading and writing.

“In a reasonable interpretation of this achievement, we would have some diff erent interim measures in the non-core areas, because until the state develops some state-wide testing in non-core areas, and I don’t anticipate they will do that, we’ll have to build our own database in these areas so we can report to you in a more strategic way. Our reasonable interpretation was we would use grades, credits and course completion in lieu of test scores,” said Harris.

The board also took time to recognize the achievements of Jonathan Biddle, a senior at Briggs High School who was inspired by his teacher, Jim Martiny, to learn Cisco programming, so much that he improved his grades and passed four courses he previously failed. He also raised $5,300 so he could take advanced Certified Cisco Internet Expert courses (CCIA) in a New York summer training camp with other like-minded students across the country.

Biddle termed the experience “The summer of love, summer of death,” since the training was so rigorous.

“There was a lot of networking here that was unheard of in classrooms and universities across the nation. No high school has ever been presented the opportunity to learn about networking on a scale like this. It was special to me that I got to attend this program, being a high school student,” said Biddle.

Harris commended Biddle for his achievements and also his teacher Martiny for inspiring many young people over the course of his career.

“Mr. Martiny steps up and makes it happen for his students at Briggs. We are extremely happy that he is teaching students these high-tech courses that prepare our students for career-building, well-paying positions beyond high school and college,” said Harris.

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