By Susan Tebben
The Boardman school district has done its best to be fiscally responsible, administrators say, but with open enrollment and other options pulling students away and state cuts to student funding, the district seeks the help of the voters in May.
“When you’re providing an [state-rated] ‘excellent’ education, what reward are we getting from the state of Ohio?” said Richard Santilli, treasurer for the district.
With no idea what the biennium budget will bring, the district has been watching all expenses. It is down 35 teaching positions, bringing it to 286 teachers despite being “consistent in being good stewards with our money,” Santilli said.
The district is asking for renewal of a 5.9-mill, five-year operating levy. This levy, which first was passed in 2003, generates $4,643,763 annually. “It goes to our electricity bill, our utility bill, salaries, whatever we need to keep the district going,” said Superintendent Frank Lazzeri.
As for improving the schools, the district also is putting a 1.6-mill, five-year levy on the ballot to replace a current one that has lost millage because of the loss of commercial and personal-property revenues, according to Santilli. This permanent-improvement levy was passed originally in 1988 but since has dropped from the original 1.6 mills to 1 mill of revenue for the district. The levy currently raises $821,219, and the replacement would bring in an additional $480,000.
The replacement would cost the owner a nickel a day, Lazzeri said, or $18.25 annually for the owner of a $100,000 home.
The additional money would go toward more security measures within the district, including new entrances and a new communication system between classrooms.
Part of the reason additional dollars are needed is because of a reinvestment in infrastructure that was made to make outdoor classrooms on Stadium Drive and Robinwood Lane schools more secure after recent school tragedies in other parts of the nation.
“In order to do that, we borrowed against future revenues,” Lazzeri said. “So about two-thirds of our revenue from the permanent-improvement fund goes to those two projects.”
The district will be paying back the debt on those projects for at least the next 24 years, Santilli said. But security as a priority for students is a reason to start the projects and continue with the additional money the district hopes will be brought by the levy.
“You can’t have learning going on unless the child feels safe,” Lazzeri said.