SCHOOLS Thrice-rejected levy heads to May ballot

The superintendent received a new contract at a lower salary.
LIBERTY -- Rejected by voters three times last year, the Liberty Board of Education decided Thursday night to place a levy on the May ballot to raise about $1.7 million in operating funds.
Voters turned down the additional levy in March, August and November, but Superintendent Larry Prince noted that 48 percent of voters supported the most recent request.
"So we have reasons to be hopeful," he said.
The exact amount of the levy will be determined by the Trumbull County Auditor's office after an examination of the district's tax base.
The last three ballot measures have been for a 7.9-mill increase. The current millage rate is 44.3, down 0.1 of a mill from last year, district officials said.
New contract
In other action, the board approved a new contract for Prince, who has been schools superintendent for seven years.
It takes effect Feb. 2 and expires on July 31, 2007. It's a revision of the current contract, which pays the superintendent about $83,000 per year. The new agreement calls for a salary of about $73,000, Prince said.
Liberty is one of several school districts in the county in which eligible superintendents have chosen to draw on their pensions to take reduced salaries and benefits.
"It's a win-win situation," said new board president John Lackey. "It's a cost savings, and we retained the superintendent we wanted to retain."
Center moving
The board also agreed in principle to support the move of the Trumbull County Educational Service Center into facilities on the campus of Trumbull Career and Technical Center.
The Educational Service Center, located in a county-owned building in downtown Warren, provides support for 20 county school districts in the areas of curriculum development, special education and technology.
Lackey, who is also on the TCTC board, said the county would soon begin to charge rent to the Educational Service Center, a cost that would be passed along to the school districts.
He said that TCTC, which is planning to create an adult education center, is willing to provide space to the service center.
"It's currently in an outdated facility, so this would be a positive move," he said. "Savings would be possible for all the local school districts and we're all about saving money."
The board also heard reports on several upcoming programs at the high school.
The school will host a program for juniors called "Making Your College Search Count" on Jan. 12, and will conduct a college financial planning seminar for parents at 7 p.m. Jan. 26 in the community room at the school.
A total of 79 sophomores from the school will get an in-depth look at three vocational programs during Career Day at TCTC on Jan. 25.
In the reorganizational meeting preceding the regular meeting, Lackey was elected board president and Frank Gorsuch elected vice president.
Board meetings will be on the second Tuesday of the month. Caucus will begin at 6 p.m., with the regular meeting following.
The board's next meeting will be on Feb. 8.

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