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Field weighing options for levy on May ballot

By Kyle McDonald | Staff Writer Published: January 15, 2013 4:00 AM
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The Field Local Schools Board of Education is considering how large the levy on the May ballot will be, and will make its decision on Feb. 4.

The school board voted Monday to send three separate millage amounts to Portage County Auditor Janet Esposito, who will certify the dollar amount each would generate for Field schools, if approved by voters.

The three millage amounts the board will consider on Feb. 4 are a three-year, 5-mill operating levy; a three-year, 5-mill operating levy packaged with a 1.5-mill permanent improvement levy; and a three-year, 6.5 mill operating levy.

Field Treasurer James Vocak said the district needs at least five mills to keep the schools running with the currently provided services and education.

"The five mills would bring us to the point where we still have a small deficit, but it'd be very manageable," he said. "We could eke by with maintaining the current operating status of the school district."

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After cutting $1.5 million from its operating budget in two years, the district is facing the decision of how to cut another $900,000 from its budget to balance the 2014 budget if the next levy fails.

The previous levy attempt in November, a 3-mill operating levy packaged with a 2-mill permanent improvement levy, marked Field Local Schools' fourth failed levy attempt in a row.

The district now has to increase the millage for the next ballot attempt to make up for a lost year of tax collections that would have come from a successful levy. Superintendent Beth Coleman said the district has about 45 days to submit its recovery plan to the state, which includes any cuts it has to make to stay out of the red if the levy fails.

Brandi Roberts and Gail Cole, two audience members at Monday's board meeting, urged the board to let the school district go into state control if another levy fails in May.

"Please do not make any more cuts to our children's education if the upcoming levy fails," said Roberts, a Field graduate and mother of three Field students. "I'm not for this in any way other than the fact that if my community cannot come together to pass a bare-bones 5-mill levy, and cannot pass the next levy, then I feel it is time to let it go to the state."

Contact this reporter at 330-298-1127 or kmcdonald@recordpub.com

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anonymous Jan 16, 2013 3:33 PM

May is too early for a Levy. The teachers contract is up in June and we need to stop pension pickups, step increases, get them on a 401 k program like the rest of America. Private sector is not wanting to give the Public sector better benefits than they have any longer. Highly educated people are in underpaying jobs or no jobs at all. The district has 70 to 80% of the tax payers money going to salary and pensions. That only gives 20 to 30% to cut and adjust in which the Board has done the cuts but needs to trim $900,000.00 again and it can be done but painfully. We do need a levy but a band aid is to seek 2 mills for 2 yrs and make cuts in the contract. Run a separate 2 mills for 3 yrs for permanent improvement to protect our school property that we own as tax payers. The permanent improvement levy will pass, it is the other the Board is worried about so they tie them together and the buildings, roofs and parking lots suffer. We spend a lot of money to put levies on I think they need to spend that money on a state audit and see what cuts they direct us in, we have not done the cuts they asked before because of the contract so now we can make a difference when the contract is up.We are blessed to have a Excellent Rating with Distinction but we still have a disfunctional school board and 3 of them will be up for election this year also. We need some good people to run that have the tools needed to help our district. Ask at the next meeting how much has been spent on 4 failed levy attempts and how that could help the schools, and for them to separate the Permanent Improvement from the operating levy and see what they think.

anonymous Jan 15, 2013 1:42 PM

I hope that one levy member that you don't get along with would not make you choose to let 2000 students suffer by hoping their levy fails. I am a levy committee member and we are a small group, and we need everyone of the few people who take time out of their day to try to educate this community. Everyone has their differences and people don't always agree, but if you live in this community, I hope you realize without good schools, we are heading in a very bad direction!!

anonymous Jan 15, 2013 10:42 AM

Good luck passing the levy. With all the stone-throwing that's taking place by one of the levy committee members, the only thing that'll pass is a failed levy. It takes a real act of brilliance to think that slandering the public online will pass a levy. Her campaign skills are just wonderful. Good luck with that, levy committee member. Good luck getting the levy passed with your horrible attitute towards others.