Thursday, August 03, 2000

Lakota repeats request for levy

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer Contributor

        WEST CHESTER TWP. — Voters in the Lakota Schools once again will be asked Nov. 7 to approve a levy issue that will provide money to build two new schools and for day-to-day operations.

        The funding issue, endorsed earlier this week by the Lakota Board of Education, combines a 26-year, $44.5 million bond issue with an operating levy to raise $8.3 million annually.

        The operating money would be enough to keep the district solvent for four to five years, said Treasurer Alan Hutchinson. He said it would take 6.74 mills to raise the necessary funds.

        The plan is the same one voters rejected last March.

        “We desperately need these funds and buildings to continue to offer the quality programs the community has come to expect,” said board member Joan Powell. “There really isn't a lot of fat to trim. Having gone over the budgets, I know we're operating very efficiently. We have a minimum staff, a minimum of spending.”

        In May, the school board approved a series of cuts totaling just over $2 million for the upcoming school year. Those cuts will allow the district to end the fiscal year June 30, 2001, with about a $3 million balance — enough for 11 days of operation, Mr. Hutchinson said.

        More severe cuts would be made should the issue be defeated again.

        “Nothing has changed,” said Superintendent Kathleen Klink. “The enrollment needs from last spring are the same as they are now. Heritage and Cherokee are feeling the effects (of overcrowding).”

        In May, the board approved a plan that moves children in five neighborhoods along Beckett Road from Heritage Elementary School to Shawnee Elementary to ease crowding. The move affects 100-150 students who live in Beckett Landing, Beckett Meadows, Beckett Preserve, Beckett Lake and Wyndree Apartments.

        Money from the bond issue would be used to build an elementary school and a junior school, and fund the first three years of a five-year capital improvement plan. It also will pay for land to build future schools, provide money to upgrade technology, and add a weight room, field house and classroom addition at Lakota East and West high schools.

        The capital improvements plan has been modified to put more money in the first few years into upgrading and maintaining Lakota's older schools, Mrs. Klink said. About $10.4 million would be spent over three years to do that.

        Mr. Hutchinson estimated taxes could rise about $206 annually for the owner of a house with a market value of $100,000.


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