Canal Winchester school district officials and levy supporters will begin a month of campaigning by handing out more than 500 yard signs for two hours Saturday at Indian Trail Elementary School.

Canal Winchester school district officials and levy supporters will begin a month of campaigning by handing out more than 500 yard signs for two hours Saturday at Indian Trail Elementary School.

Superintendent Kimberley Miller-Smith said she hopes levy supporters will go to the "levy kickoff" event to pick up yard signs between 10 a.m. and noon.

State Rep. Marian Harris (D-Columbus) who pledged her support last month for the 14.82-mill, two-year emergency levy, said she will attend the two-hour event.

Miller-Smith said Canal Winchester residents Brigid Krueger and Karon Fluharty volunteered two weeks ago to lead the campaign. Canal Winchester Mayor Michael Ebert is also lending his support.

"The mayor has been very supportive of Canal Winchester schools," Miller-Smith said. "He's an alumnus."

She said the campaign prior to the May 5 election will include "a lot of face-to-face voter contact.

"We're going to try to focus on the 'yes' voters, but we want to get to every voter in the district, every parent in the district," she said.

Miller-Smith said levy supporters have planned other meetings, but would like to have as few meetings as possible. She said Fluharty and Krueger will meet with volunteers at 7 p.m. March 29 at the district's education center, 100 Washington St., to delegate jobs and establish committees.

Direct mailings and three weekends of canvassing the community in April should be enough to get out the message, the superintendent said.

"This is the thing: it's not a new word. It's not a new message," she added. "And I'm amazed when people tell me they don't know."

The May 5 election will mark the school district's fifth attempt in two years to get a levy approved.

If passed, it would generate $6,439,000 in each of its two years and would cost homeowners approximately $454 per $100,000 of assessed real estate value annually. According to data from the Columbus Board of Realtors, the average home price in the district for 2008 was $165,955.

Ebert said Monday he supports the school levy personally and he believes village council members likely will pass a resolution of support for the levy at their next meeting April 6.

"I think the village and the school district go hand-in-hand," he said. "With their success comes our success, and vice versa."

He said jobs lost in the school district affect tax revenues in the village.

Among other budget-tightening moves, the Canal Winchester Board of Education agreed March 16 to suspend the contracts of 20 teachers, effective Aug. 21, and leave three other positions unfilled.

"It has a big impact on what kind of businesses we can attract to Canal Winchester," he said.

With larger businesses looking to locate to the village, the quality of schools can be vital, Ebert added.

ebrooks@thisweeknews.com