By SHERRI L. SHAULIS
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
NILES -- Borrowing money from a local bank will help the school district finish the academic year in the black.
The board of education unanimously agreed Thursday to borrow $1.3 million from Farmer's National Bank with a 2.85-percent interest rate. The money is being borrowed in anticipation of tax collections from the 5.1-mill renewal levy passed by voters last November, said Superintendent Patrick N. Guliano.
The levy, used for general operations, generates roughly $1.3 million each year.
"This will get us through this school year," Guliano said. "It's kind of like taking out a mortgage."
The district was placed in fiscal watch earlier this year by State Auditor Betty Montgomery based on projections the district would fall more than $2.4 million into the red by the end of the school year.
The shortfall arose after Gov. Bob Taft announced more than $10 million in cuts in education throughout the state, and Niles was hit with increases in insurance and health care costs.
School officials are debating the actual figure with the state, but are still making cuts locally to decrease the deficit.
In addition to the money from Farmer's National, school officials have also agreed to close Garfield Elementary at the end of the year, as well as lay off 19 teachers throughout the district.
More cuts came Thursday, when the board agreed not to renew contracts for eight classified employees in the district.
Two of the employees are bus monitors, while the rest are special-education assistants.
Guliano said the special-education assistants could be recalled next year if it's determined they are needed and if additional funding is found from the state.