Gov. Ted Strickland pledged his support in campaigning for an operating levy for Canal Winchester schools during his visit to Indian Trail Elementary School last week.

Gov. Ted Strickland pledged his support in campaigning for an operating levy for Canal Winchester schools during his visit to Indian Trail Elementary School last week.

"I'll do it," he said. "I speak out in support of levies. I'll be happy to do what I can to support this one."

Canal Winchester school board members agreed Feb. 9 to place a 14.82-mill, two-year emergency operating levy on the May ballot. Board member Chuck Miller said that he and other school officials definitely will follow up with the governor about helping with the campaign.

Board President Stan Smith said he applauds the governor's plan to add $981-million in funding to school districts statewide. He said, however, the 10-year timeline needed to make changes in Ohio schools won't help shore up the nearly $2.5-million budget shortfall Canal Winchester schools are facing for the 2009-10 school year.

"Our needs are today," Smith said. "And they're critical needs."

Superintendent Kimberley Miller-Smith said she was pleased with the governor's pledge of support. She said quality schools exist through a partnership between the state and local community and although the governor plans to increase school funding from the state, community support is still necessary.

"Without either end, we're in trouble," she said.

Indian Trail principal Bev Downing escorted the governor, state Rep. Marian Harris (D-Canal Winchester) and other local officials through several classes at the K-2 elementary school during the students' 100th day in class this school year.

"This is a cheerful place," Strickland said as he roamed the halls, asking students what they have learned in school.

"Alphabets and everything else," answered kindergartner Hailee Blake.

Nearly 200 second-graders eating lunch greeted Strickland with waves and little smiles as he entered the cafeteria.

"I have really enjoyed visiting your school," the governor said. "It's a beautiful, beautiful school. Your principal tells me you're all wonderful students."

During the Strickland's tour, village council members discussed ways of supporting the district's operating levy.

"I think it's critical that we pass it," Councilman John Bender said. "If you have a good school system, then you have a good community."

After his tour, the governor discussed his education reform plan with district and village officials in the school's library.

"The fact is all across Ohio, some really good things are happening," the governor said. "But we can always do better."

Strickland said his plan will make sure students are learning from a 21st-century curriculum, strengthen teacher training, lengthen the school day and year and ensure the state assumes more responsibility for school funding. Changes will be phased into the school system over 10 years, he said.

"I don't have all the answers," he added. "No one does. Although it's not a perfect plan, it's a good one."

Legislation for the governor's education plan has not been introduced to members of the Ohio General Assembly.

Councilwoman Leah Turner wanted to know what community members should do in the meantime. She said students are struggling to get to school without proper busing.

"We have high school students that have to walk nine miles," she said. "We need that help now."

Strickland said the school transportation problem is "particularly vexing" and hopes "major new investment" to the education system will fix the problem.

"We're not going to be able to solve all the problems all at once," he added.

Miller reminded the governor of the school districts all over Ohio that are having trouble balancing their budgets now.

"It's important that your administration not lose sight that those situations need support," he said. "We need support."