Tallmadge residents to renew levy for school district

Danielle Toth

Tallmadge voters will decide May 2 whether to renew a 7.5-mill operating levy for the Tallmadge City School district. However, there is a change in the term of the levy this time around.

USES FOR LEVY MONEY

• Basic operating functions in the district

• Utility bills

• Textbooks and paper

• Fuel for buses

The levy, which raises about $2.8 million a year, is changing from a five-year term to a continuing levy, meaning the levy will raise funds for an indefinite period of time and will no longer need to be renewed.

There is no additional cost to Tallmadge residents because the levy is a renewal, said Nancy Wack, community relations coordinator for Tallmadge City Schools. The owner of a $100,000 home currently pays about $230 a year for the levy, and that amount will remain the same.

The change occurred because a continuing levy will provide the district with more stability, both financially and in that the district will not need to campaign every five years to renew the levy, said school board president Thomas Craig.

If the levy does not pass, it will be placed on the ballot again in either August or November, Wack said.

Cuts will occur for the district if the levy does not pass by the end of the year, although specific cuts have not been discussed, Superintendent Vincent Frammartino said.

“We’re expecting the levy to pass,” Frammartino said. “We’ve been working very hard and hope the voters approve the levy. We’re providing them all the information they need to pass this levy.”

The levy money is used to pay for basic operating functions in the district, including utility bills, salaries, textbooks and paper, and fuel for buses, Wack said.

“This levy represents 14 percent of our current operating budget,” she said. “It is necessary for us to maintain the current level of programs and services.”

The levy is important because it provides the district with essential operating dollars, Craig said.

“Operating funds are needed because rising costs and dwindling state funding will leave the district with an operating deficit by 2008,” Craig said. “By the end of this fiscal year, the school district will receive $200,000 less from the state than last year.”

Districts are receiving less funding because the Ohio government is trying to shift the funding of schools to the local districts, putting more of the burden on the district and less on the state, said Jeff Hostetler, treasurer for the Tallmadge City School district.

“What the state has done is change some of the components of the funding formula, which affects schools,” he said. “They’ve had to essentially freeze funding.”

Despite dwindling state funding, Hostetler also said he thinks the levy will pass.

“It is important the district continue to support schools as they have,” Hostetler said. “We’ve proposed it as a continuing levy, which I think is important as well because we don’t have to keep going back to the voters. The district has supported the schools in the past, and I think they’ll continue to do so. It’s a great district.”

The levy was originally passed in May 2001 for its five-year term. This is its first time on the ballot as a renewal.

Contact public affairs reporter Danielle Toth at [email protected]