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SCHOOL FINANCES Levy decision brings feedback from public



Published: Wed, February 16, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



One resident suggested printing the salary of every school employee.

STRUTHERS -- The Struthers Board of Education got lots of feedback from the public Tuesday night in response to its decision last week to place an 8-mill levy on the May 3 ballot.

"You've laid all the blame on the steps of the Statehouse," said Barb Micco, a Struthers resident and guidance counselor at Struthers Middle School and one of about 75 residents crowded into the high school band room.

"If you're going to get an 8-mill levy passed, you're going to have to own up to what you've done. A lot of this crisis can be traced back to this board."

The district has added four new administrative positions, Micco said, even as the number of buildings in the district has been cut in half.

"In my opinion we need to be more fiscally responsible," Micco told the board. "This came on way too suddenly. We cannot wait until we are a million dollars in debt to act."

Board's response

Board president Matthew Rhoads responded by saying that decisions made by previous boards have landed the district in the financial position of having to increase taxes.

The 8-mill levy, if approved, would generate about $1.08 million a year for the school district. The levy would increase the tax on a home valued at $100,000 by $245 a year, or $21.41 per month, school district Treasurer Dr. Michael Evanson told the board last week.

"We are not here to point fingers," Rhoads said. "We have to move forward as carefully and thoughtfully as possible. Even if things were to improve, I see no reason to go back to spending like drunken sailors."

Making salaries public

One resident at the meeting suggested printing a list of district employees and their salaries to let voters see where the money is going. Superintendent Dr. Sandra J. DiBacco agreed, saying the information is public record.

One man at the meeting said he didn't want the information to be released.

"As soon as you print it, you're going to have people taking that list down to Hardees and Arby's, and they'll be talking about who makes what. I really ask you not to print that. It's destructive, not constructive."

When a woman in the audience asked that the district invite state legislators for a public forum on school finances, DiBacco and Rhoads agreed that the idea was good.




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