Any citizen who has ever attended a middle school band concert, helped out with an elementary school field trip or watched proudly as a friend or relative graduated from high school probably doesn't need to be told to vote for their local school district's levy. But they may need to be reminded that even if no candidates are on the ballot in their community, the schools still need their support.
Such is the situation in most of the school districts that have levies on the May 8 primary ballot.
Poland: In Mahoning County, only the Poland School District is asking passage of a levy -- a 4.2-mill, 5-year renewal levy to raise $1.4 million annually for operating costs. Poland schools have one of the lowest millages in the Mahoning Valley, yet are among the region's top-rated districts. The school board and administration have earned community respect, and voters should feel confident that their tax dollars are being appropriately spent.
Five Trumbull County districts hope to see levies passed next Tuesday
Newton Falls: In Newton Falls, voters have the opportunity to secure $16 million in state funding for new and renovated buildings under the state Classroom Facilities Assistance Program. If citizens approve a 2.8-mill $4 million bond issue and an accompanying .5-mill additional levy, the state will provide 80 percent of the costs to renovate the existing middle school as a primary grade school, renovate the junior-senior high school inside and out and build a new elementary school. Such an opportunity should be embraced by taxpayers.
Champion: The Champion School District has a 1.5-mill 5-year renewal levy for renovations, remodeling and equipment.
McDonald: McDonald schools need the renewal of a 2-mill, 5-year levy for remodeling, furnishings and equipment and improving school sites.
Both levies are worth renewing.
Hubbard: The Hubbard School District is asking voters to approve a 9.8-mill, 5-year levy renewal and increase to raise $1.9 million annually by renewing $1.2 million and providing for an increase of $670,000 for operations. Voters should not be taken in by those who would deny Hubbard's very real need for additional funds.
Lordstown: And in Lordstown, where economic changes have greatly affected the tax base, the school district needs a 10.2-mill, 5-year additional levy to raise $1.3 million annually to avoid an operating deficit. The school board has done its part to dig out of fiscal emergency. Now the district needs the support of residents.
There are those who wrongly believe that the efforts of the Ohio legislature will invalidate property-based school taxes. This is not the case.
As Susan Tave Zelman, Ohio Superintendent of Public Instruction, explains, & quot;The General Assembly is working hard on the education budget to develop a school-funding solution that improves state funding of our schools, but our schools need the support of their communities."
Despite vocal naysayers, the public schools of this nation in general, and of the Mahoning Valley in particular, are, with few exceptions, doing a good job of educating the area's future citizens. It behooves all of us to help secure their future and in so doing secure our own.