Fayette school board looking for levy support 2011.10.12

Written by David Green.

Fayette’s board of education is looking for voter support Nov. 8 to keep local funding steady as state support declines.

The 7-mill levy was first passed in 2002, and renewed in 2007. It expires in 2012. If renewed, funding will begin in 2013 and continue through 2017.

“It has been placed on the ballot now to provide for basic stability for the district for five years after the current levy expires,” said superintendent of school Russ Griggs. “It was also placed on the General Election ballot because special elections are more expensive for the district, using more taxpayer dollars to run the election.”

The renewal is not a new tax, he said. and the levy currently paid by property owners in the school district generates $298,500 a year.

“This revenue is essential for the operation of the district in providing educational programs and services,” Griggs said. “The money will not be used for new staff or programs. It is necessary to avoid larger cuts and reductions in programs.”

Cuts have already occurred due to a drop in other funding sources. During the past five years, Griggs said the district has made the following cuts: staff by five and 5/8 teachers, half a custodial position, one teacher aide, EMIS position was combined with the Library Media position, 7/10 superintendent position, and 3/5 technology position.

In addition, the high school counselor also teaches mathematics classes and the elementary guidance counselor has taken on other additional duties. The weight room supervisor has been a voluntary position for the past two years. Bus routes have been consolidated and the district was ranked third in the state for efficiency in transportation last year. 

Two supplemental positions were not filled this year. Budgets for supplies, materials and equipment have been reduced. Substantial savings have taken place in the treasurer’s office.

Utility costs have been lowered by conservation efforts and the wind turbine. With the assistance of a rebate program from First Energy, the gymnasium lights will be replaced with more efficient lighting for basketball season. More efficient bulbs will be installed in many other areas of the building leading to lower long-term operational cost.

 Griggs said that staff salaries have been frozen and starting teacher pay remains the same for the sixth year in a row. The health insurance program has changed from the top level benefit to a much lower level plan, with staff paying a significantly higher amount of co-pays and out-of-pocket expenses.

“The teacher and classified employee bargaining units have been very cooperative in controlling personnel costs,” Griggs said.

EXCELLENCE—Despite the cuts, Fayette was rated “excellent” three out of the past four years by the Ohio Department of Education. The district met 25 out of 26 state standards this past year.

“Renewal of this levy is essential to the future of Fayette Local Schools,” Griggs said.

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