SCHOOLS Niles board recognizes young hero

A fourth-grader was honored for his bravery.
NILES -- Congratulations and commendations were mixed in with the promotion of a levy during school board and levy committee meetings Thursday.
The board approved a commendation for Brendan Mostoller, a Washington Elementary fourth-grader who saved his family from a basement fire in their home on Jan. 14. Niles Fire Capt. Gary Brown also presented Brendan with a certificate honoring him for his heroic act.
"I was pretty impressed," Brown said. "In my 25 years I've seen a lot of fires and I know what they can do and how fast. What he did was a really courageous act."
Spirit points
The staff, pupils and parents from Bonham Elementary were recognized for winning one of three $1,000 awards from the Eastwood Mall's School Spirit Points Program, and the middle school Robotics and Prep Bowl teams also were commended by the board. The robotics team won Best Presentation at Youngstown State University's Robotics Competition, and the Prep Bowl team received second-place honors at its last event.
Davis also announced that 36 pupils from Washington Elementary recently won a trip in a limousine for lunch at Applebee's in Niles for their efforts in a Home and School fund-raising project.
About the levy
A 4.8-mill levy, which the community will vote on Feb. 8, would generate $1.3 million a year and is part of a recovery plan requested by the Ohio Department of Education that shows how the schools will avoid an anticipated $999,000 deficit at the end of the 2004-05 school year.
That deficit is expected to be as much as $8.74 million by the end of 2007-08. The district has already taken action to deal with its financial problems, including staff reductions, which have saved $1.2 million through attrition of 13 employees, changing health-care benefit packages and eliminating the purchase of new textbooks and preventive maintenance on school buildings.
Attendance at the levy committee forum consisted primarily of a few dozen school employees and board members, which Superintendent Rocco Adduci considers to be a good sign.
"We're gearing down somewhat," said Adduci. "Over the four meetings we've had, there's probably been more than 200 people total in attendance. My gut feeling is that this community will pull together and pass this levy. They know we need it."
The committee's presentation pointed out that Niles ranks 11th out of 11 school districts in Trumbull County as far as taxes are concerned.
"The school millage, the total millage that comes to our school, ours is the lowest in Trumbull County," Adduci said.
And as board President John Davis said, even if this levy passes, it only leapfrogs Niles past McDonald to 10th place on the list.
"We need to appreciate this," Davis said. "If you take the average of all of those and add the number of mills that it would take to put us right in the middle of those schools, it would be 9-plus mills. We're not asking the public for much."
The levy committee will hold its last forum at 7 p.m. Feb. 3 at the high school auditorium, but according to Adduci, the campaign will continue right up until the community votes.
Other action
In other business, the board:
UAwarded a contract of $52,635 to buy a school bus from Ohio Bus Sales. The cost of the bus will be reimbursed by the state.
UAppointed board members Marlene Rhodes and Wanda Burns to serve on the Ohio School Board Association/Niles City School District's Board Policy Committee. The committee will meet at 10 a.m. Feb. 16 at Niles Middle School.
UApproved the resignations of Frances DeJute and Joyce Losch, both teachers, for retirement purposes.

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