Board to discuss levy type, amount

Two commission members said they would favor a 6-mill rather than 7-mill levy.
LORDSTOWN -- The board of education is expected to meet tonight to discuss the amount and type of levy that will be on the November ballot.
Members of the state commission appointed earlier this year to oversee school district finances discussed the levy at their meeting Tuesday but didn't vote on it, saying they preferred to let the local board make that determination.
The special meeting is at 7 tonight. The board's regular meeting is Aug. 15.
A 10.2-mill levy on the May ballot failed. To get a levy on the November ballot, information must be filed with the Trumbull County Board of Elections by Aug. 23.
Commission members must approve a resolution to seek a levy before it may go on the ballot. The commission will meet at 10 a.m. Aug. 16.
What's being considered: The district is considering a 6-mill or 7-mill levy. Treasurer Mark Ferrara said 6 mills would generate about $770,000 annually and 7 mills would generate $898,000.
"It would be more fiscally responsible to go with 6 mills rather than 7 mills," said Ronald Krisher, commission member.
Chairman William Wenger agreed. "I think what we're looking at is a levy that people can support coupled with economies and efficiencies," Wenger said.
Superintendent Ray Getz said the board voted in February to seek a 10.2-mill levy on the May ballot based on information at the time.
If it had passed, that levy would have generated $1.3 million annually. Cuts, including eliminating several positions, have been made since.
Type of levy: Also to be determined is whether the board and commission will ask voters to approve an emergency or a continuing levy. An emergency levy is passed for a certain amount of money, and the amount doesn't decrease based on property revaluation.
The amount collected by the district from a continuing levy could decrease because of property valuation.
Commission members also received a staffing analysis for the district. The analysis compares staffing levels at Lordstown to 10 districts of similar size and type.
Although Lordstown has 18 more teachers than required by state minimum standards for a district its size, all of the other districts also exceed the required number of teachers, according to the analysis.
Audit suggests cuts: A performance audit by Ohio Auditor Jim Petro released last month suggested cutting 10 teachers. Wenger said the performance audit will be useful but stressed that it's based on state minimums.
"The performance audit is only one piece," he said.
The audit, combined with the staffing analysis and a review of the master schedule of classes including the number of pupils in each will provide a more complete picture of the district, Wenger said.
The staffing analysis also shows that fringe benefits for employees amounts to 46 percent of salaries. The state average is 30 percent of salary for fringes.
The average Lordstown teacher during the 2000-01 school year earned $57,551 including salary and benefits.
The average for school plant employees such as custodians is $33,196 for salary and benefits, and for secretarial and clerical employees, the average is $29,681.
"But the salaries are lower," Krisher pointed out, adding it may balance out.
Krisher wants to know the state average of combined salary and fringe benefits to make a comparison.

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