Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Lakota listens after levy loss



By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer contributor

LIBERTY TWP. - Before deciding when to go back to voters for additional dollars, Lakota educators want to listen to district residents.

They may ask for help from residents who are in marketing and have offered to conduct a survey. That would be in addition to face-to-face contacts, e-mails, phone calls and perhaps community forums.

Those ideas and more were discussed by board members Monday - the first meeting since voters rejected a levy last week that would have provided $20 million for day-to-day operations and $84.9 million for new schools and expansions and renovations of existing ones. It would have cost the owner of $150,000 home an additional $536.

Voters "made it pretty clear that was too much,'' said Allen Baxter of West Chester. "That's an awfully big chunk.''

"Great school districts are partners,'' said Superintendent Kathleen Klink. "It's time for us to listen, to understand, to share ideas.''

Board President Joan Powell said the board needs time to determine when it will put another issue on the ballot and whether it would be the same issue or modified. The deadline for putting an issue on the Aug. 3 special election is May 20.

The topic may come up Saturday at an 8 a.m. work session at Lakota's administrative offices, 5572 Princeton Road, Klink said.

While those discussions are taking place, West Chester Township resident Jamie Green is putting together a group to look at school funding issues on a regional or statewide basis.

"We're just in the beginning stages," said Green, who chaired the Committee for Lakota's Future levy campaign group.

"I envision this group could reach out to districts all across Ohio. It's not just about what's best for Lakota but what's best for all of us.''

A key issue, Green said, is building inflationary growth into local funding so districts don't have to go back to voters so often.

Meanwhile, the district will move ahead with cutting nearly $7 million from the upcoming school year budget, which will mean an increase in class size.

Educators are bracing for as many as 500 new students by the start of school.

For information on the school-funding group, go to www.yeslakota.org or call 403-1524.

E-mail suek@infionline.ne




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