Poland board plans forum on levy

By Ashley Luthern



The school board has announced a public forum next week about a five-year, 5.9-mill emergency operating levy that will appear on the November ballot.

The forum begins at 7 p.m. Sept. 26 at the Poland Seminary High School auditorium, and Joel Roscoe of the Buckeye Association of School Administrators will be among the presenters. Roscoe has reviewed Poland’s finances and will speak about his findings during the forum.

“The public has been clamoring for an independent review and here it is,” said board President Dr. Larry Dinopoulos.

If approved, the levy is expected to generate about $2.2 million annually and would cost the owner of $100,000-valued home about $180 annually.

The board also reviewed considerations for levy passage and failure.

If the levy is approved, the board is considering reinstating K-4 elementary physical education and music specialists, elementary guidance personnel and K-12 academic-proficiency tutors. Other considerations are to keep all district buildings open, keep all-day kindergarten and high-school electives and eliminate or adjust pay-to-participate fees.

If the levy fails, the board is considering cutting all extracurricular and athletic activities, re-visiting a study to close a district building and keep all current cuts in place. The board also would consider open enrollment and re-submitting a levy.

In each case, it “doesn’t mean all of these things would happen,” said board member Elinor Zedaker.

Board members were divided on the future of pay-to-participate fees if the levy passes, with opinions ranging from reimbursing families for money spent this school year to ending the practice to revising the fee structure.

On possibility of open enrollment should the levy fail, board members Richard Weaver and Zedaker said they opposed it.

The board also heard from the public. Maria Hoffmaster, of Poland asked the board by show of hands who supported the levy. All but board member Robert Shovlin lifted a hand.

“You have every right to vote ‘no’ and vote your conscience, but when the board makes a decision you should support it,” said Hoffmaster, who wrote her doctoral dissertation about school boards.

“I’ve seen the numbers and it is absolutely necessary that this levy pass,” she added.

Shovlin said he stood by his position and had supported lower-millage levies in the past.

Hoffmaster was one of several people who spoke in support of the 5.9-mill levy.

Gregg Riddle of Poland also spoke in favor of the levy and commended the board, but he also cautioned board members when it came to pay-to-participate fees.

“If you do decide to take away pay-to-play, it’s almost like the school board has blackmailed the community,” he added.

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