The Bexley board of education unanimously approved a resolution Monday night allowing the Bexley Public Library to place a five-year, 1.5-mill levy on the November ballot.

The Bexley board of education unanimously approved a resolution Monday night allowing the Bexley Public Library to place a five-year, 1.5-mill levy on the November ballot.

If approved by voters Nov. 3, the levy would cost homeowners $45.94 a year for every $100,000 in assessed property value.

Rocky Saxbe, vice president of the library trustees, said he believed library officials surprised the school board when they made the levy request a month ago. The library has operated on state funds since it opened in the 1920s.

"We were all in a state of surprise when we approached (you) at the last meeting to ask for a pass-through levy," Saxbe said.

In late spring, libraries across the state began to learn that Ohio's budget crisis could have a significant impact on library funding, Saxbe said. Libraries feared a 50-percent revenue reduction.

The state budget ended up cutting the funding by 11 percent, on top of 20 percent cut earlier in the year.

The Bexley library board believes 1.5 mills would restore revenues in 2010 to 2001 levels, Saxbe said.

Board of education president Andrew Sutter reminded school board members that if the library couldn't exist on its own, it would be absorbed by the Columbus Metropolitan Library system. Franklin County voters pay 2.2 mills to run the library.

The school board is the taxing authority for the library.

"Bexley would be a lesser place to live without the fine library we have," Sutter said.

School board member Steve Grossman asked if the library would be forced to make cuts like other libraries across the state, adding: "It is apparent almost all of them are going to be cutting staff, cutting hours, reducing materials."

Saxbe said the library has reduced staff by more than 25 percent over the last six years and has reduced its new materials budget, while at the same time absorbing health care costs that have increased 111 percent. Since January, staff was cut from 37 to 25.

In other news, the board approved plans for the Montrose Elementary learning center, a project that has been in the works for more than a year. The board was required to pass the plan before school officials could get approval from the city of Bexley.

The biggest change to the plan, according to parent Kim Kirtland, is the location. The community has agreed to place the learning center on Mound Street.

"We have done a number of things to make sure that the neighbors are aware of the new location," Kirtland said.

The technology department also gave its 2009 report. One of the biggest accomplishments was the installation of 48 interactive whiteboards, or SMART Boards. Technology director Paul Ross said a total of 158 SMART Boards have now been installed. Staff members also have been trained on the use of the technology.

"We are the only school district in the nation with 10 certified trainers," he said.

tstubbs@thisweeknews.com