Group: Levy would keep district’s excellence
By Ashley Luthern
Supporters of an additional levy for Boardman schools say the money is necessary to maintain the district’s academic excellence.
The district has been ranked excellent in state report cards 11 times in 13 years, a distinction recognized last week with the release of state report cards.
On the Nov. 6 ballot, voters will see a 3.9-mill, three-year additional emergency operating levy that will generate $3,178,231 annually. The levy will cost the owner of a $100,000 home $119.44 each year.
The school district’s general fund budget is about $38 million.
Putting a levy on the ballot “was not an easy decision for the board to make,” said Superintendent Frank Lazzeri.
“They are very aware of society and the local community,” he said.
Several parents who are part of the Friends of Boardman Schools levy committee said they support the additional levy because school officials have proved to be good stewards of taxpayer money.
“This is to maintain what we have,” said committee member Jeff Barone, noting a new school levy was last approved in 2003.
Although expenditures for the district have remained at about the same level since 2006, revenue has dropped, Lazzeri said.
From 2003 to now, the district lost $15.4 million as a result of state-level legislation, such as cuts in the State Foundation Program.
The bulk of lost money, $10.5 million, has followed Boardman students who left the district for charter or open-enrollment schools.
To help make up for the loss, 40 positions, 33 of them teaching, have been eliminated, and the base wages have been frozen for the last five years.
The teachers union approved a three-year contract in June 2011 that also froze step increases for the first two years.
The annual average teacher salary is $55,126, and the annual average administrator salary is $77,832.
“This new levy is enough to keep us excellent without restoring positions or giving salary increases,” Lazzeri said.
But even with passage of a new levy, there’s no guarantee there won’t be more cuts in the future because of changes that could occur at the state level, Lazzeri said.
Members of the levy committee said they are focusing on the four “A’s” of the district: academics, arts, athletics and accountability.
“If we cut to match the loss [of revenue], everything that makes Boardman special would be loss. Nobody’s asking for extras,” committee member Vince Bevacqua said.
Lazzeri asked residents to support the levy because the schools are an integral part of the community.
“Boardman is special because of the safety workers, churches and great schools. You don’t want one leg to be weak and topple the stool over,” he said.