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Some schools happy, some not



Published: Wed, May 9, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Money from the Newton Falls levy will be used as a local match to build a new elementary school.

By DENISE DICK

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

LORDSTOWN -- School officials will start looking for more places to cut after voters rejected a 10.2-mill school levy.

Unofficial vote totals of Tuesday's primary election show the levy going down 57 percent to 42 percent. The district, which has been in fiscal emergency since December, already has cut several employees including a school nurse and elementary school principal.

Hubbard voters also defeated their district's school levy.

There was better news for Newton Falls, Champion and McDonald school districts.

Newton Falls' passage of the 2.8-mill levy will generate about $4 million that will be used as a local match for $16 million in state construction money. An additional 0.5 mill will raise $51,381 annually for 23 years for maintenance.

"I'm thrilled," said Superintendent Linda Clapp.

Tuesday's election marked the third time the issue was before voters. The money will be used to build a new elementary school, expand the junior high school and renovate its connecting high school.

"The voters felt strongly the need for this and their support shows it," Clapp said.

Hubbard's deficit: Hubbard voters' rejection of their five-year, 9.9-mill emergency operating levy means the district's deficit will likely increase. The deficit is projected to be $1.4 million in the wake of the levy defeat. If the levy had passed, the deficit was expected to about $1 million.

"We'll have to go back and see what the board wants to do," said Superintendent Carl Morell.

The district has prepared a reduction-in-force list, which involves laying off six teachers and four teachers aides. "We'll have to take a look at how the board wants to implement that," Morell said.

The levy included 6.4 current mills and 3.5 additional mills.

McDonald voters' renewal of a 2.95-mill, five-year permanent improvement school levy means the district will be able to continue maintenance of school buildings, said Superintendent Robert Bloniarz. The levy is expected to generate about $58,000 annually.

"It's just indicative of the support the community has given us for a long time," Bloniarz said.

Voters in Champion renewed their school district's 5-year, 1.5-mill levy to raise $123,574 a year for renovations, remodeling and equipment.

Lordstown Superintendent Ray Getz said voters' rejection of the levy that would have generated about $1.3 million annually means district officials will look at other places to cut. He listed transportation and extracurricular activities as possible places where the ax would fall.

But he said recovering from the deficit, projected to be $1.35 million by the end of June, requires more than that. The recovery plan also requires revenue enhancements such as a levy.

"I don't know what else we can do," Getz said. "We can't save or reduce our way out of this."

Personnel move: Getz learned late last month that James Levero, of the Ohio Department of Education and chairman of the commission appointed to oversee Lordstown school finances, was replaced. The removal was effective May 1.

"It certainly couldn't have helped and in fact, I am extremely agitated with the Ohio Department of Education," Getz said about that change's effect on levy results.

ODE characterized Levero's removal as part of department "reorganization."

Jeff Hundt, associate director of ODE's fiscal assistance section, replaces Levero as the head of Lordstown's commission. His position also changes as part of the reorganization.

Getz questioned the timing of the state's move and its effect on the Lordstown schools. Gov. Bob Taft has listed keeping the General Motors Assembly plant in Lordstown as his No. 1 priority. The school district, GM and village have just approved a tax abatement plan aimed at enticing the corporation to renovate the plant.




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