Johnstown Independent

Johnstown-Monroe

With levy win, focus shifted to facilities, new super

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Johnstown-Monroe Local Schools officials don't expect to sit around and savor the passage of the May 7 levy.

Instead, it's time to plan for the future.

The district's 8.5-mill emergency operating levy passed with nearly a 2-1 margin, with 852 votes for it to 451 against it in Licking County, according to unofficial results from the county's board of elections, or 65.39 percent to 34.61 percent. Of the six Delaware County voters who weighed in, two supported it, and four rejected it.

District treasurer Tammy Woods said the renewal levy would raise $2.2 million each year for four years and represents one-seventh of the district's total budget and one-sixth of the general-fund budget. The renewal will cover general-fund operating expenditures, including testing requirements, salaries, benefits, utilities, transportation, special-education services, classroom supplies, maintenance and custodial services, and classroom technology and software.

Licking County Deputy Auditor Cindy Haas has said that the 8.5-mill levy would cost a total of $260.13 annually per $100,000 of assessed property value but would not raise taxes because it is a continuing levy.

"The levy results confirm the support and trust of the Johnstown-Monroe Local School District residents," Woods said. "I wish that I could personally thank each and every one of them for that support and trust."

Board president Amy Ramey agreed.

"I want to thank the community for all of their support and especially to those who worked so hard to get the word out about how important this levy was," she said. "We had so many community members working on the campaign and giving it all they have. It was a joy to see the community come together for our students. The board's goal was to sure up finances in preparation for a building project."

Woods said that has been the message all along. The message from the board, she said, including new members Alan Benton and Ruth Ann Booher, who were appointed in March, was that the board wanted to have the district's operating finances in place to support its operational needs prior to any building project.

Prior to Superintendent Damien Bawn's retirement and board members John Davis' and Roger Montgomery's resignation early this year, board members were considering a 6.55-mill bond issue, plus an additional 0.5-mill permanent improvement levy that the state requires to improve district facilities, but that was placed on hold following the changes. Also, board members decided they didn't want to do anything with facilities until the 8.5-mill emergency levy passed.

Now that the levy has passed, Ramey said, no firm plans are in place regarding facilities improvements.

"I'm not sure at this point," she said.

Board members are sure, however, that a small committee would interview candidates to replace Bawn on May 15.

Thomas E. Slater has been interim superintendent since Bawn's retirement Feb. 28.

Woods said the superintendent applications were submitted through the Licking County Educational Service Center.

"I believe that there were over a dozen applications received," she said.

Ramey said board members would not rush to a decision regarding a new superintendent or facilities improvements.

"One step at a time to make sure we are doing the very best for our students and community," she said.

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