Thursday, August 5, 2004

Schools consider new tries


Spending cuts coming where levies were lost

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer contributor

Expect to see more school money issues on the November ballot.

That's the message from educators in the Fairfield, Edgewood and Franklin school districts after voters spurned tax issues in Tuesday's special election.

COMMENT
Of the 103 levies and bond issues that voters faced statewide, only 25 passed Tuesday.

Edgewood Superintendent Tom York said he would recommend putting the same 6.9-mill issue on the Nov. 2 ballot after it failed Tuesday, 2,867 to 1,422.

The recommendation will come at a special board meeting at 9 a.m. Friday at board offices, 3500 Busenbark Road.

"As long as we pass something in 2004, we're OK because of the cuts we've already made," York said. "What will happen to us after that is the big issue."

After the same levy amount failed in March, Edgewood made $1 million in cuts to balance the budget for the upcoming school year.

High school students and those in grades K-8 who live less than two miles from school will have to find their own transportation.

Students who participate in after-school sports and clubs will have to pay fees for the first time in 10 years.

Those reductions are being mirrored in Franklin, where busing was reduced in April after a levy defeat.

Franklin has reduced its spending by nearly $1.7 million in the past 10 months, besides giving the community the go-ahead to run a pay-to-participate program after the March levy defeat.

On Monday, the school board will discuss whether to submit the same three issues to voters or change them, said William Wood, assistant superintendent.

Besides funding day-to-day operations, the three issues would have paid for classroom additions and stadium renovations.

Fairfield cut $3 million after the March levy defeat and is faced with cutting another $7 million for the 2005-06 school year if a November levy is turned down.

Those cuts will include 100 positions - roughly 20 percent of the teaching staff.

Fairfield has already eliminated high school busing, resulting in a change to the starting and ending times of several buildings to accommodate reduced bus routes.

The Fairfield school board also will hold a public meeting Monday to discuss levy options and get community comment. It will begin at 5 p.m. at Fairfield Senior High School, 8800 Holden Blvd.

Already the opposition is planning its next campaign against any issue the board may put before voters.

"Once again, we expect the Fairfield School Board to ignore the will of the people and put this on the November ballot," said Arnold Engel, who heads the anti-levy group Citizens for Accountability and Results in Education. "We'll oppose the next levy."

Engel said his group would hold a rally at Veterans Park from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday.

E-mail suek@infionline.net




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