One year later: Streetsboro reaping the rewards of levy

By Heather Condley Record-Courier staff writer Published:

One year after Streetsboro voters approved a 9.7-mill emergency operating levy that helped put the brakes on an impending $2 million deficit, school officials are still thanking them.

The levy passed by a margin of only 31 votes on Feb. 4, 1997. It replaces a 9.7-mill emergency levy, which was only being collected at a 6.8-mill level.

The new operating levy is now generating $1.5 million annually for the district, which is $500,000 more per year than the old levy was bringing in.

In January, the district began to see the extra funds, which has helped the district immensely, although Treasurer Patricia McLaughlin said there were other factors that helped bring the district out of potential financial troubles.

"Originally, when I called to the attention of the board that we needed more operating it was two years ago. At that time, my projection was that by the end of 1996-97 we would be close to $450,000 in debt," she said. "A lot of things happened after that that we had no control over."

Some of those things included an extra $91,000 in state foundation payments from a business in Streetsboro that had just begun to take part in the city's tax abatement program.

"When the (Portage) county auditor reported that, we got a lower valuation and the adjustment was made. I didn't anticipate that," McLaughlin said. "We had also been trying to cut back on expenses. We put a hold on spending so we had a larger carry over at the end of 1996. Then we passed the levy, so that definitely helped."

McLaughlin added that the teachers also agreed last summer to a year-long wage freeze.

"We're doing much better financially," she said. "We really appreciate the sacrifice our employees made and the help the people gave in passing the levy."

Since the levy passed, the district has been able to use the operating funds, which are eligible to be used for the day-to-day operating costs of running the school, on a number of projects, including security systems at Wait and Campus elementary schools and the middle school.

In addition, electrical wiring at Wait and Campus elementary schools has been done to accommodate nearly $220,000 worth of computers that were bought with state funds.

"We totally rewired two buildings and are working on the high school," McLaughlin said. "We haven't started on the middle school, but our goal is to get all the buildings wired properly."

She added that the district is currently working on a television studio, located near the radio station at the high school, to enhance the curriculum.

"I understand there is a waiting list of students who want to be involved. We're hoping to get that done for next year," she said. "It will be similar to a TV studio, but it will be a classroom where students will be on camera in the building."

The district is also working on setting up a learning lab, which would allow students access to interactive classes that they may not be able to get at Streetsboro.

"They might be able to have classes like Japanese, where we don't really have a call for that, but the class could be broadcast to other schools at the same time," McLaughlin said. "We would also have the capability to make arrangements for the Smithsonian Institute. (The students could get) an interactive tour and learn about things."

Operating funds have also gone to pave the parking lot at the high school, the loading dock at Campus Elementary and the playground at Wait Elementary School. The public address systems at Wait and the Middle school has been updated, the front of the high school has been painted and a first-grade teacher has been added.

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