Lakeview schools to place 3.9-mill levy on fall ballot

By Eric Grosso

The district has made moves to save money since the last levy failure.

CORTLAND — After combating a nearly $900,000 deficit earlier this year, the Lakeview Local School District is hoping to avoid any future cuts or reductions by voting to place a 3.9-mill levy on the November ballot.

The levy would bring in $1.05 million annually for five years. It will be on the Nov. 4 ballot.

Voters rejected a 7.5-mill levy in March that would have brought in $2 million annually. Voters have rejected a total of six levies and have not passed a new tax levy in 10 years, according to Superintendent Robert Wilson.

Lakeview currently has the third-lowest rate of any district in Trumbull County at 42.8 total mills, according to school officials. The levy would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $140 a year.

After nearly $900,000 in cuts in November, the district had a slight carryover this year but has a projected deficit of $87,000 in 2009 and $1.5 million in 2010, according the Ohio Department of Education’s five-year forecast.

The difference in millage between the March and November ballot issues comes from a number of money-saving moves the district has made since the levy failure, including the closing of Cortland Elementary after the 2008-09 school year, Wilson said Monday. The closing would save the district approximately $500,000 a year, with Wilson noting the increased maintenance and repair costs associated with Cortland Elementary, built in 1923.

He said the maintenance and repair fees were “absolutely disastrous” to the district’s budget. He noted the closing came from public meetings earlier this year with voters who urged district officials to “think outside the box” when it came to cuts.

With the closing, kindergarten through third grade will be at Bazetta Elementary. Grades four through seven will be at Lakeview Middle School, and grades eight through 12 would be at Lakeview High School.

Wilson said the district will probably have to place two modular units on the high school and middle school properties to handle the increase in pupils.

The district is also reducing busing for pupils to state minimums and eliminating bus services for high school students, which wil1 save the district about $75,000.

The district also approved a pay-to-participate program for sports and extracurricular activities in April, which is expected to raise $50,000. Also in April, the district placed six teachers on reduction-in-force status, but two of the teachers were removed from the list Monday.

Treasurer Milton Williams said the budget deficit in coming years could be attributed to a number of factors, including rising fuel costs and utilities and lower interest rates given to investors. “Similar things are happening to individuals all over; now they’re happening to us,” he said.

Wilson noted a big reason for the change in budgets is property valuation throughout the community. Specifically, he noted Kmart and Delphi Packard distribution plants in Cortland and Bazetta accounted for the district’s largest loss, nearly $300,000 in property tax payments. The facilities were valued at $20 million in 2006, but are now valued at $7.2 million.

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