Southwest Licking Local's school board might try again in November with another 9.5-mill levy.

Southwest Licking Local's school board might try again in November with another 9.5-mill levy.

Although the same request failed on the May 4 ballot, the board on May 26 discussed placing the same property-tax millage request on the November ballot in hopes that it would pass.

The board likely will decide in June whether to move forward or try another route. Regardless of the levy amount and type of levy, to improve the chance for success this time around, board members discussed the idea of surveying the community and gathering residents' thoughts about the school district and its levy campaign.

"I think it'll be difficult to run a successful campaign without being more in touch with them about what's going on," board member Cindy Zaino said. "I have great concerns about us not gauging the community."

Zaino said one of the board's goals should be to clearly outline to the public the consequences of another failed levy.

Superintendent Forest Yocum said further budget cuts would be a very difficult task.

"In the past we have always been able to make more cuts to stay solvent, but this time we don't have that choice," Yocum said. "To try to cut $9-million out of a budget is almost impossible."

Board president Don Huber also emphasized the direness of SWL's current financial situation.

"Our costs are going up because of growth," he said. "State support is going down. The levy has failed. We're at very difficult, challenging times. This is the most challenging situation I've seen since I've been on the board."

The board's next regularly scheduled meeting is June 17, but another special meeting could be held earlier.

The school board also discussed hiring the state to conduct a performance audit.

"We can save money doing this," Huber said. "Audits are costly but also involve significant cost savings. It's always good to have another set of eyes on what's going on."

The performance audit would look at the district finances and operations and help the district to become more cost-efficient.

"They look at everything - not just finances but finances in relationship to board policies, staffing levels, purchasing procedures - everything you can think of that affects finances," Huber said. "These people will be looking at the total operation of the district from an efficiency point of view."

The board approved all sections of the performance-audit contract with the state auditor's office, including a $56,000 maximum cost to the school district for the audit.