The Canal Winchester Times

Canal Winchester could see school levy in May

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The Canal Winchester Board of Education took the first step Monday, Dec. 16, to place a school levy on the May 6, 2014 ballot.

The board unanimously voted to send to three resolutions of necessity to the Franklin County Auditor's Office for a $5.83-million substitute emergency renewal levy.

The current $5.83-million emergency levy will expire on Dec. 31, 2014.

While the three resolutions are seeking the same dollar amount, the levies would be in effect for either five years, seven years or for a continuing period of time.

The board will decide which one of these resolutions, if any, to place on the ballot at its Jan. 13 meeting.

"This is just saying that this is a necessity," Superintendent Jim Sotlar said. "We're going to give it to the auditor and they are going to give us the millage rate and then we'll come back in January to make the official decision if we're going to do five, seven, or continuing."

The district's five-year financial forecast indicates that without a renewal of the emergency levy, Canal Winchester schools face a $5.3-million deficit by June 30, 2017 and a $13.9-million deficit by June 30, 2018.

In addition, Treasurer Joyce Boyrer has said if the current emergency levy expires without being renewed or if a substitute levy is not approved, the district would no longer have the ability to renew the levy and take advantage of the state continuing to pay a 12.5-percent rollback.

As a result, Boyer said taxpayers would have to pay the full $5.83 million instead of the approximate $5,101,250 that they are currently paying.

Boyer told board members that if they want to put a levy on the May ballot, they will need to decide in January which option they want so the district can get the necessary paperwork with the Franklin County Board of Elections filed by the Feb. 5 deadline.

In other business Dec. 16, the board heard recommendations about replacing three aging buses but took no action.

According to information from the district, the buses will require an estimated $90,000 in maintenance costs over the next three years if they are not replaced.

Each new bus is estimated to cost approximately $78,000, and financing options are being reviewed to determine the "most cost-effective" approach.

At the end of the meeting, board President Brian Niceswanger thanked outgoing member Debra Waites, who was not re-elected in November. Waites served 12 years on the board.

"I am most thankful to Deb for her mentorship to me and her tireless devotion to the students of this district," he said. "Her mantra during all discussions related to district finances and programs has always been, 'what is best for the kids?'

"It has been her guiding principle and she has never wavered in her dedication to the students and staff of this district."

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