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Published: Thursday, 1/16/2014

Sylvania School Board members discuss levy with parents

BY NATALIE TRUSSO CAFARELLO
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Sylvania School Board members discussed with Southview and Northview High School parents Wednesday the possibility of placing a tax on the May election ballot to avoid a future $1.4 million deficit, and the door-to-door campaign that would be held to push for the levy's approval.

“The big cuts have already been done, and if there is anything else that has not been un-turned, it probably will be small cuts," that are not likely to change the district's financial situation, board member Vicki Donovan Lyle told about 20 members of the Southview and Northview Parents Club gathered at Southview Wednesday night.

She, board member Julie Hoffman, and Chief Financial Officer Laura Sauber fielded comments and answered questions about the district's financial status, and the possibility of the board approving a 3.8 mill operating levy recommended by Superintendent Brad Rieger.

Mrs. Sauber told those in attendance that the budget is 85 percent salaries and benefits, and if further cuts were to be made, it would affect class sizes and student programs.

Northview High School principal Steve Swaggerty said that after a levy failed in November 2011, some AP class offerings were reduced, and some elective courses were cut.

A 4.9-mill levy did pass in May 2011, but since collection starts the next year, the classes were cut. 

Mrs. Sauber also informed parents that the school’s state funding was reduced from $19 million in 2010 to an expected $15 million in 2016.

Several parents expressed concern about how the school intended to present its message to the community if a levy is placed on the ballot. One encouraged including the declining state funding as a talking point, while others were concerned about reaching the senior vote.

Mrs. Sauber said that 70 percent of school district residents were comprised of seniors and those without children attending a district school. She said if the board approved the levy for the ballot, the district would have a door-to-door campaign, and may host small coffee talk sessions at residents' homes to engage in more in-depth conversations.

A hot topic that took up much of the conversation was state-funded school vouchers for students in the district wishing to attend a parochial or charter school.

“I think of it as money that could have come to the district,” Mrs. Sauber said.

Parent Brad Barricklow, told those in attendance to “let their voices be heard for help in funding public schools,” by writing State Rep. Barbara Sears (R., Monclova Township). 

Afterward, Mr. Barricklow said he was satisfied with the amount the possible levy may cost a homeowner.

“Costs go up. You have to pay for good teachers. And the fact that they are not asking for 4.9 mills is significant,” he said.

The proposed levy is estimated to cost a homeowner with a $100,000 home about $133 per year. Board members are likely to discuss the recommendation at 8:30 a.m. Jan. 23 in the administrative building, 4747 Holland-Sylvania Rd. 

Contact Natalie Trusso Cafarello at: 419-206-0356, or ntrusso@theblade.com, or on Twitter @natalietrusso.



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