CW schools to pursue levy

It is back to the ballot for Canal Winchester Local Schools as the district took the first official step to place an operating levy on the Nov. 4 ballot.

On June 16, the Canal Winchester Board of Education passed a resolution of necessity asking the county auditor to certify a levy amount generating almost $4 million. Administrators and the board estimate the levy will be approximately 8.9-mills.

"It’s probably not enough to get us where we were or to where we want to be," observed Board President John Kantner, who added it is hopefully an amount voters could support.

At a special board meeting held on June 3, Superintendent Kim Miller-Smith outlined over $5.3 million in cuts made since 2004 and said more than $3 million in reductions made over the last three years cannot be reinstated because they were school-year specific.

However, if a levy passes in November, Miller-Smith suggested a list of cuts that could be reinstated within a short period of time. They include: high school busing, a rollback of the pay-to-play fee to $70, field trips, textbook purchases, assistant varsity coaches, $2.1 million in personnel, equipment account increases, and the purchase of three school buses.

"There are some things we won’t reinstate at this time," said Miller-Smith.

Out-of-district professional development paid for by the district, door-to-door student pick-up, and a return to previous gifted programming were on the superintendent’s list.

"How much gas increases over time is something we really have to look at. Gifted services will not return to the way they look now. We’re putting together something that will look a little different," said Miller-Smith.

The district could also face additional costs associated with a new safety mandate, Jarod’s Law, which was signed into effect in 2005, two years after a young boy was killed by a school folding table. The law created a School Health and Safety Network with annual school inspections for unsafe health, safety, and sanitation conditions conducted by the Ohio Board of Health. Public inspection reports for each school will be published and mandate written plans, including time frames, for remediation of each item identified as not within compliance by the inspection. Plans will be reviewed by the board to ensure proper compliance.

"If we were to pass a levy in November, we could bring back shortly thereafter some form of high school busing, textbook purchases, bus purchases, and fund the Jarod’s Law findings," said Miller-Smith. "The cost of $3.8 million will take 8.5 to 8.9 mills to reinstate. This was the best information we can give you to get to a ballpark figure."

Administrators also reinforced the need for a bond issue in the near future to fund new construction and secure $31 million in Ohio School Facilities Commission funding. It was estimated the high school will be over capacity in 2009-10, with Winchester Trail and the middle school following a similar trend in 2010-11.

"I’d like to look at housing needs and make sure there is no misunderstanding we need space," added board member Stan Smith.

Once the auditor certifies the levy amount, board members must pass a resolution of intent before an Aug. 21 filing deadline in order to place the operating levy on the fall ballot.

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