Wednesday, June 28, 2000

Monroe schools to get funds

Transfer from Middletown part of split

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer Contributor

        MIDDLETOWN — By Friday, Middletown Schools will transfer $550,000 to the new Monroe Local Schools.

        It will be the first revenue Monroe Schools receive when the district begins operations Saturday as Ohio's 612th school district.

        The money is about 70 to 75 percent of the total Monroe will receive once the two districts reach a final agreement on splitting assets of the old combined school district, said Edmund Pokora, treasurer for Middletown Schools.

        The amount was approved Monday by the Middletown Board of Education, just after Mr. Pokora presented a revised five-year financial forecast for Middletown Schools as a separated district. When the split is final, Middletown Schools will lose about 11.5 percent of its students and 17 percent of the combined district's tax base.

        “There is no map to follow,” Mr. Pokora said. “We have hundreds of items to divide. We are very, very close to a final agreement. We still have some details to work out.”

        Teams from both districts have met with officials from the Ohio Department of Education and the Ohio Auditor's Office to ensure the split goes smoothly.

        “Basically the money is money Monroe provided through its tax base,” said Mark Frazer, president of the Middletown Board of Education. “That's why it is being returned.”

        The loss of revenue from taxes and the state should not hurt Middletown Schools over the next five years, provided a tax levy that expires at the end of next year is renewed in 2001, Mr. Pokora said. Without the levy the district faces a deficit by June 2003.

        “With the levy renewal, we're eating into reserves. Without it, we just run out of money,” said board member John Venturella. “They've (finance committee) taken a lot of time and effort to give it (projections) realistic figures.”

        Monroe will begin using the money from Middletown to pay for start-up costs and payroll for its staff, said Dan Hare, Monroe's interim superintendent. Once the split is final, Monroe will begin paying utility bills and normal costs of running a school district.

        Part of the $150,000 will fund a ramp at Lemon-Monroe High School, and remodeling some restrooms there and at Monroe Elementary for use by students with handicaps, as required under the Americans With Disabilities Act.

        Monroe will start getting state money as its own district sometime next month.


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