By Kalea Hall
The board of education gave first reading Thursday to a resolution for a 5.9-mill operating-levy, and will have to meet again to approve it before the issue actually goes to the November ballot.
It has been 11 years since Canfield local schools has seen additional funding come in from a levy, school officials say.
The deadline to put tax levies and other issues on the fall ballot is Aug. 7. The board will meet again to discuss the levy at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.
“We are still narrowing down the facts,” said Alex Geordan, superintendent of Canfield schools. “One mill brings over $500,000 per year.”
If the levy passes, the extra funding will go toward technology advancements; additional course offerings including advanced- placement classes; better security within the school system, which would include additional cameras and better lockdown measures; and expanded transportation.
“Our school system is the heart of our community,” said Geordan. “What we offer in our schools is a top-notch education, and to continue that and to grow as a system, additional revenue is going to be needed.”
Voters turned down an additional 6.8-mill operating levy, which would have brought in $3.6 million annually to the district, in November 2010, and also and May 2011.
In November 2011, voters also turned down an additional 4.9-mill levy, which would have brought in more than $2 million annually to the district, according to Vindicator files.
The board discussed ways to make sure it is transparent about the need for the levy this time around so the levy does pass.
An advisory financial committee also reviewed the district’s financial books to see what was needed in order to continue to grow the school district without deficit spending, and the levy was the suggestion.
Geordan said the levy discussion has been a “12-month fact-finding” session.
“We need to bring in additional revenue and that is what the financial community committee determined. We are suggesting a 5.9-mill [levy], but that is up for discussion, but it is time,” said Pattie Kesner, district treasurer.
The district has decreased spending by eliminating high school busing, various positions, incorporated the pay- to-participate program, adjusted school fees, and renegotiated a contract with staff for a three-year salary freeze. The renegotiation gave the district the most savings of $1.8 million, Kesner said.
Altogether, the district decreased its spending by $3.6 million, according to Vindicator files.
Kesner told the board the levy is especially necessary because of the state funding cuts. Canfield has received no increases for the next two years in funding from the state, but it has not had any decreases. In 2011, the district lost $1.2 million in state revenue.
“It’s time for the community to step up and get some additional revenue to the district now,” Kesner said.
Geordan is hopeful the levy will pass since Poland and Boardman voters recently approved new levies.
“We took a look at what was spent per student at other districts that are comparable to us, and any one we took a look at we were in the bottom 10 percent of the districts on expenses,” Geordan said.
Geordan said there will be a levy campaign team started.