Monday, October 25, 2004
Northwest levy would target pay
By Liz Oakes
Enquirer staff writer
COLERAIN TWP. - A request for more money from Northwest Local Schools won't go away if a proposed levy doesn't pass next week, according to the district.
With expenditures running $5 million ahead of revenues, "they will be back within the next year" without additional funds, said district Treasurer Randy Seymour.
Northwest, with about 10,800 students, isn't airing a list of what might get cut if a combined 5.75-mill levy doesn't pass, however.
The district is seeking 4.75 mills for operating expenses and 1 mill for permanent improvements. The combined levy would raise a total $8.6 million annually.
Of that amount, school officials say, nearly half, or $4.1 million, would go to salaries and benefits.
That's important to keep and attract good teachers, said school board member Jim Lay.
According to the Hamilton County Educational Service Center, current starting salary for a novice teacher at Northwest is $31,659, ranking the district near the bottom in teacher pay in the county. The average for a first-year teacher in the county is $32,438, according to the center.
An Ohio Facilities Commission survey last year found that the district needs $110 million to bring the buildings up to state standards.
Improvements include upgrading security systems, replacing doors and windows and possibly developing land behind Northwest High School and Ann Weigel Elementary School, district officials say.
The owner of a $100,000 home will pay an additional $170 annually if the combined levy is approved.
One parent said paying more is worth it.
Debbie Janakiefski's daughters Laura, 7, and Kelly, 9, attend Ann Weigel Elementary School, which improved to an "excellent" rating last year in state report card ratings.
"We're not going to stay competitive unless we can afford teacher pay raises," said Janakiefski, 41, of White Oak. Other residents worry about the cost.
"The school board needs to look at what should be necessary versus what they want," said Janet Lockwood, 61, who grew up attending district schools.
Lockwood, who lives on a fixed income, said the levy would cost her over $350 more a year. "I want to stay in my house, but property taxes are skyrocketing," she said.
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