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LORDSTOWN SCHOOLS Board holds off on levy



Published: Thu, May 17, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The district has been in fiscal emergency since December 2000.

By DENISE DICK

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

LORDSTOWN -- Voters won't be asked again until November to pass a levy to help alleviate the school district's financial crunch.

School board members considered returning to the ballot in an August special election, but at a meeting Wednesday they opted instead for the November general election.

Voters last week rejected a five-year, 10.2-mill levy for the district which would have generated $1.3 million annually. Ohio Auditor Jim Petro's office declared the district in fiscal emergency last December, citing a projected $1.3 million deficit by the end of June.

Residents' concerns: Becky Albrecht, school board president, said she heard from residents both before and after the vote, that they were concerned about the district not having a contract with its teachers.

"They're concerned that if we pass a levy, the money will go to employees," she said. "We need to educate our residents and we need to do it honestly and sincerely."

Superintendent Ray Getz said revenue from a levy would go to reducing the district's deficit and balancing the budget.

The deadline to get an issue on an August special election ballot is May 23.

"My first sense was to put it back on in August, but the more I looked at it, I changed my mind," Getz said. "I came down reluctantly on waiting until November."

The district wouldn't realize the revenue from a levy until the beginning of next year, regardless of whether it passed in August or November, Treasurer Mark Ferrara said.

Official's view: J.C. Gibson, board vice president, initially supported an August try. There are likely to be more cuts if there is no additional revenue coming into the district.

"I think we ought to let the community know there are consequences for what their vote was," he said. "If we don't have our arguments and plan ready for August, why are we more likely to have it by November?"

Getz said he would have supported returning to the ballot in August also if the deadline wasn't next week. The oversight commission, which has a new chairman as of this week, would have to approve it and they don't have a meeting scheduled. The district also has to verify figures with the county auditor's office.

"I think part of the problem with the last one was we tried to rush and I'd rather not do that again," Ferrara said.

dick@vindy.com




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