Voters to decide on Canal Winchester Schools’ levy

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By Linda Dillman
Staff Writer

On May 6, voters head to the polls to decide on Canal Winchester Schools’ $5.8 million, five-year substitute renewal levy, which provides 16 percent of the district’s operating budget.

Since the issue is not a new levy, school officials said the state will continue to pick-up 12.5 percent of a property owner’s school tax bill. In addition, by including the substitute language, Canal Winchester will also receive supplemental income from new development, both residential and commercial. Revenue from the substitute emergency levy renewal is earmarked for daily operations.

“This levy will not raise taxes,” said Superintendent Jim Sotlar. “Our goal was not to raise taxes.”

Communication liaison Brigid Krueger said property owners can view a detailed breakdown of their entire tax bill by visiting the district’s website, follow the links under enrollment and be directed to the appropriate county auditor site.

As a companion to the levy request, the district also adopted a three-point plan for financial stability and developed a “Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights” in its efforts to work with the community in achieving the goals of the three-point plan. According to organizers, the actions represent Canal Winchester’s pledge to save taxpayers money while ensuring students receive an excellent education.

The three-point plan establishes a cash balance policy to ensure financial stability  to maintain a modest cash reserve of one month’s annual expenditures. In order to curb inflationary personnel costs, the district will continue to watch hiring, keep staffing levels in line with student enrollment and review staff compensation.

The Canal Winchester Board of Education and administration are also committed to breaking a cycle of levy requests by exploring, with community support, the concept of making an emergency levy permanent to ensure long term operating budget stability.

Over the past three years, the district reduced $3.7 million from its budget and is projected to save $226,000 in annual utility costs as a result of an energy efficiency program.

School clinic renovation

The school board approved a resolution  to renovate a teacher workroom into a clinic in time for the 2014-15 school year. The move from current space in the high school office will double the clinic’s size.

“The present clinic does not have bathroom facilities for ill students and the space itself is so small, often students need to sit in the office area by the main door,” said Krueger.

The total project cost is estimated at $108,350 including $83,850 in construction. Work will begin on June 1.

“A nurse or health aide is located in each school building due to the large number of students,” said Krueger. “Many students have medical needs that make this essential. Diabetics, allergies and asthma students are seen on a daily basis and any student who must take medication during school hours. This does not include the daily occurrence of colds, flu, scrapes and other minor issues.”

According to Krueger, the health care staff is also in charge of training staff for life-threatening allergies pertaining to students in their classrooms. Additionally, they are a resource should staff have any concerns about a student’s health. Health care workers also conduct student screenings for vision and hearing, confirm students are up to date on immunizations and ensure the district is abiding by health department laws and regulations.

“Communicable diseases are always a concern lice, pink eye, etc.” said Krueger. “Families of students in a class who have been exposed have to be informed.  These are the same concerns you see in most school districts and our nurses and health aides are essential in the everyday care of our students. Our clinics see, on a daily basis, anywhere between 30 to 70 students.”

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