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School levy to return on May ballot
Despite cutting millions of dollars in expenses, the Rossford Board of Education still finds itself facing a looming deficit.
To offset the needed funds, the school board is returning to voters in May with an operating levy.
At a special meeting on Saturday, January 17, the board unanimously approved a resolution asking the county auditor to certify funds for a five-year, 5.9 mill levy.
Board member Beverly Koch was absent, but board president Ken Sutter said she had notified him by email that she supports the levy.
Treasurer James Rossler Jr. said the levy would generate about $2 million per year.
It would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $206 more per year.
“We feel, as a board, this is necessary,” board member Dawn Burks said.
She shares the concern of those in the community worried about decreasing property values.
“If we don’t continue to provide these supports to education, it’s going to continue,” Ms. Burks said.
In November, a 4.49-mill, five-year school levy narrowly was defeated by a vote of 1,827 (48 percent) in favor to 1,984 against (52 percent)–a difference of just 157 votes.
That levy would have generated $1.8 million annually to fund current expenses.
School officials last fall were trying to fend off a $2.2 million deficit expected in 2018.
Mr. Rossler warned the board last August that if the November levy did not pass, a larger levy would be needed.
Without the new levy in place during 2015, the deficit is expected to grow to $7.2 million by 2019.
Expenses are exceeding revenue this year and the next two years, but the district’s reserve fund allows it to remain balanced until 2018.
Mr. Sutter said board members have acknowledged the debt is growing.
“With the failure of the first levy, we need more,” he added.
In the meantime, the board has been cutting expenses, as recommended by a performance audit.
In 2012, expenses were $14.8 million and this year will be $13.4 million.
Since 2013, there have been $1.1 million savings from retirements, reduction of classified and certified positions
Some of the other ways expenses were reduced include:
•A new centralized copier contract, and a move to a paperless workplace.
•Joining the Ohio Schools Council to save on utilities and supplies.
•Joining the Wood County Health Consortium to save on health insurance.
•Participating in the Straight A grant, creating on-line resources and purchasing fewer textbooks.
•Elementary grades were consolidated and the Indian Hills building was closed to classes.
Then the Student Services, Bulldog Center and board of education buildings were closed and all offices centralized at Indian Hills.
Ms. Burks said she believes voters will recognize the efforts the board has been making.
“They were telling us to look at how to cut more and that’s what we’re doing,” she said.
Board member Jackie Brown agreed, “There’s going to continue to be more cuts.”
Ms. Burks noted that expensive state mandates keep increasing school expenses that the board cannot control.
“We’re trying to do the best we can with reduced buildings and staff,” she said. “But the state keeps coming back to us.”
Mr. Rossler also attributed the district’s financial difficulties to the decreased valuation of property in Wood County.
In 2011, the district received $13.4 million in property tax revenue, but in 2015 that is projected at only $13.2 million.
“Everybody lost 10 percent in the county,” the treasurer explained. “We said it would force every district to the ballot. If the valuation hadn’t dropped, we wouldn’t be asking for money now.”
Ms. Burks said she is proud of the programs the district offers with limited resources.
“We’re trying to do what we can,” she said. “I want to maintain the quality of education we do provide. We have so many great things here in Rossford.”
In other business at the special meeting, the board adopted a resolution declaring a matter of urgent necessity for electrical compliance issues at Rossford High School.
The board’s next regular meeting is 6 p.m., Monday, January 26, at the Indian Hills board room, 401 Glenwood Road. It is open to the public.
The Journal office in Perrysburg now has the following new hours of operation:
Monday: 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Tuesday-Friday: 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Rossford lies at the heart of the Crossroads of America, an area experiencing tremendous economic growth, located at the crossroads of Interstate 75 and the Ohio Turnpike. The city's population of approximately 6,000 is primarily a mix of descendants of Polish, Czechoslovakian, German and Ukrainian workers who came from Pennsylvania to work at the glass plant, now Pilkington.
Rossford was incorporated as a village in 1939 and as a city in 1971. The City is a municipal corporation which operates under its own charter and is governed by a mayor and seven-member City Council. Rossford is served by full-time police and part-time fire departments, dispatched from the neighboring Village of Walbridge.
The City maintains a Community Recreation Center and three parks, one of which,Veterans Memorial Park, features a seasonal marina along with picnic areas and diamonds and courts for baseball, tennis, basketball and volleyball.
Rossford has three elementary schools, Glenwood, Indian Hills and Eagle Point, a junior high and high school and All Saints parochial school for grades pre-kindergarten through eight.
The city boasts a public library and many service and community organizations such as the Rossford Business Association, Lions Club and Veterans of Foreign Wars. Its Rossford Community Service League sponsors annual activities such as a Valentine's Day Dance, Easter egg hunt, Halloween, Memorial Day parades and their Christmas tree lighting.
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