By Cindy Kranz
The Cincinnati Enquirer
MOUNT HEALTHY - Extracurricular activities, including athletics, could be cut if voters in the Mount Healthy City School District don't pass an operating levy this school year.
It's a familiar predicament for the 3,700-student district, which nearly cut athletics in 1991 after a string of levy losses.
Bingo fund-raising saved extracurricular activities from the chopping block that year.
The district's school board met Monday to discuss options for dealing with a projected $1.7 million deficit projected for the beginning of the 2004-05 school year. Besides cutting extracurricular activities, other options include closing an elementary building or restructuring at the high school and middle schools.
"We're going to have to look at all of those things to determine the savings and make some difficult choices if we don't pass this levy in November or March," Superintendent David Horine said.
Voters have turned down four levies since August 2002. A levy is on the ballot again Nov. 4 for 6.95 mills. If approved, it would raise about $2.2 million annually.
Reginald Stuckey, a parent of three students, said he'd move his kids out of the district if extracurricular activities are cut.
"We have a son who plays high-school football," Stuckey said. "That may be his only chance for a full ride to college in a few years."
Board members pleaded with the audience of 40 to help find solutions.
"Help us figure out how we can get $1.7 million," board member Al Crawford said. "Don't tell us not to cut athletics. We don't want to cut anything ... This is not about extracurricular activities. This is about jobs. This is about paying teachers what they rightfully should be paid. This is about students being successful. This is about students having all the opportunities every other student has in the state of Ohio."
The board and administration had talked about delaying the discussion about cuts until January, because they didn't want it to appear as a threat if the November levy doesn't pass.
But, they changed their minds.
"People deserve to know what's being discussed at this time," Horine said.
"This is how dire the situation is."
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