Friday, October 1, 2004

Finneytown looks at teacher layoffs

Schools have millage on Nov. ballot

By Liz Oakes
Enquirer staff writer

Other ballot issues discussed at the election forum Wednesday night:

• Northwest Local School District: 4.75-mill operating levy and 1 mill for permanent improvements.

• Winton Woods City School District: 6.95-mill continuing levy for operating expenses and 1 mill for permanent improvements.

• Greenhills: 1.5-mill, five-year tax levy for street repairs, and a $1 million bond issue to acquire, improve and redevelop properties in the village.

• Springfield Township: Local control of zoning, replacing Hamilton County rural zoning plan.

FOREST PARK - Finneytown Schools may be forced to lay off teachers if a 7.95-mill operating levy doesn't pass on Nov. 2, the district's superintendent warned during a televised election forum.

Randall Parsons said that without the levy, the district will be facing a $1.8 million deficit by the end of next school year.

Schools officials haven't determined specific cuts, but "we cannot rule (layoffs) out," Parsons said during the forum at Waycross Community Media studios on Wednesday night.

"We're looking at all areas" to cut back expenses, including sports and other extracurricular activities, the superintendent said.

Finneytown last passed a school levy in 2001, also for 7.95 mills.

Since then, the district's insurance premiums have tripled, said Dave Oliverio, district treasurer, and utility, fuel and other costs have risen.

This year's continuing levy, if approved, would cost the owner of a $100,000 house an extra $234 annually and raise $1.7 million, district officials said.

Schools officials estimate that the levy money would last the district about three years. Even with levy passage, Finneytown schools will need to slash $400,000 from the budget next year and $760,000 the year after, Oliverio said.

The district this year has cut $400,000, including spending on computers, buses and other equipment, school officials say.

An ongoing district reorganization that combined grades from different schools two years ago eliminated 10 positions, saving the district $1 million, Parsons said.

Cindy Rebman of Springfield Township, whose sons Joe, 13, and Matt, 15, attend Finneytown High School, said the prospect of losing teachers or after-school programs worries her.

"All those things being available is what makes a child a well-rounded adult," Rebman, 42, said. "There's more to getting an education than just books and classroom time."


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