Mahonig County schools merit support of voters



Voters in seven Mahoning County school districts will decide the future of their local schools and the educational fate of their young people Tuesday.
About half the issues are renewal, half additional. There is one bond issue for construction of a new school.
This is a difficult time for school districts to be asking their residents to approve taxes, especially additional taxes. But the most important obligation a community carries is that of educating the next generation.
Good schools not only create good citizens, they are the underpinning of strong communities and healthy property values.
We urge voters to give their local schools the fullest support possible.
Renewals
Boardman has two renewal levies on the ballot.
A 5.9-mill, five-year renewal levy designed to raise $4.3 million for current expenses. The levy first passed in 1996. Although the millage rate is listed as 5.9, the actual residential effective rate of taxation, based on the state's reduction formula, will be 4.54 mills, district officials say.
A 6-mill, five-year renewal levy to raise $3.7 million for current expenses. The levy first passed in 1991 and the actual residential taxation rate will be 3.86 mills.
Between them, the levies represent a quarter of the school district's local tax revenue and are obviously vital to the continued operation of Boardman schools.
Canfield has a 1.9-mill, five-year renewal levy that raises $890,000 annually for This levy started at 6.5 mills when it was first passed in 1986. The state reduction law formula sets the new rate at 1.9 mills.
Western Reserve is seeking renewal of a 1.8-mill, five-year levy designed to raise $139,000 a year to avoid an operating deficit. This levy was originally passed as a 4-mill tax in 1983. Income from the levy is essential to balancing the district's budget.
Additional
Three school districts are seeking additional operating funds and one is seeking a bond issue for construction of a new school
Struthers, which was classified by the state as in fiscal emergency in May, is seeking a 6.9-mill additional continuing levy designed to raise $911,000 a year for current expenses. The district has cut personnel and increased its state funding by picking up 95 additional students through open enrollment. Still it will need additional income to work its way out of fiscal emergency without gutting educational programs.
West Branch is seeking a 1 percent, five-year income tax on wages to raise $1.6 million annually for current expenses. The district is also seeking a 3-mill additional continuing levy to raise $600,000 a year for permanent improvements, such as new buses, computers, books and equipment.
After district voters rejected a 1.5 percent income tax proposal in May, the board elected to split its request for additional funding into a smaller income tax request and a permanent improvement property tax.
The Vindicator does not specifically endorse school income tax issues. The paper's opposition to the tax dates to the General Assembly's creation of the tax and to the fact that school income taxes tend to shift the tax burden from commercial and residential property owners to income earners. However, in some districts, especially rural districts, an income tax may have advantages, and it is up to a majority of the voters in the district to decide whether their schools can best be financed through property or income taxes.
Sebring is seeking a 1 percent, five-year income tax on wages only to raise $390,000 for current expenses. Voters turned down a previous income tax proposal and several property tax proposals in recent years. School officials say cuts have been made that have saved the district $1.5 million over four years, but additional income is needed to balance the budget.
Bond issue
Finally, Jackson-Milton Local School District is seeking passage of a 5.95-mill, 28-year bond issue that will provide $12.4 million in local funds, which will be combined with state money, to build a new high school/middle school complex. The district's aging buildings cannot be economically maintained and it is difficult to give children a 21st century education in buildings that date to the turn of the 20th century.

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