Thursday, August 10, 2000

Edgewood asking for more money in Nov. operating levy

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer Contributor

        TRENTON — Opening an expanded Babeck Elementary School this month combined with a growing enrollment and unexpected hiring costs has prompted the Edgewood Board of Education to ask voters for more operating dollars.

        The board this week approved the first of two resolutions needed to put a 4.9-mill operating levy on the Nov. 7 ballot. Once the Butler County auditor certifies the levy will raise the expected $1.677 million annually, the board will adopt a second resolution putting the issue on the ballot. The deadline for doing that is Aug. 24.

        “We knew it was going to be tight,” said Edgewood Superintendent Dale Robertson. “Opening a building, hiring staff — it just cost us more than we thought."

        Compounding the problem has been the so-called “cap” imposed by legislators that limits the amount of new state aid a district receives despite growing enrollments, said Edgewood Treasurer Ryan Slone. Had the district not been capped, it would have received about $325,000 more this past school year, enough to keep the district off the ballot.

        Depending on next year's enrollment, the district might not get as much as the $800,000 it would receive had there not been a cap, Mr. Slone said.

        “We had to scale back the 2000-01 budget,” Mr. Slone

        said. “We'll end the year at close to zero.”

        Enrollment is expected to grow by about 150 students to almost 3,350, an increase of 810 students since 1993.

        Mr. Robertson said the district hired 30 new employees to handle the growth and the expanded building. Work began this summer on the addition to Edgewood High and the connector between Bloomfield and Trenton elementary schools, all part of an $18.9 million bond issue project approved by voters two years ago.

        Crews have been working nearly a year on a two-story, 35,700-square foot expansion at Babeck Elementary School that will more than double its size by adding 12 classrooms and a gymnasium, the building's first expansion since its 1961 opening.

        The operating levy is the first voters have been asked to approve since 1987, Mr. Robertson said. If approved, it should keep the district solvent for five years.

        “We've stretched it as far as we could,” Mr. Robertson said. “Our growth has been so great. It's time for us to put a levy on.”

        If approved, Mr. Slone estimated the levy would add about $150 annually to the taxes on a $100,000 home.


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