With the deadline for placing an issue on the November ballot less than a month away, the Marysville Exempted Village School District Board of Education must make crucial decisions soon.

With the deadline for placing an issue on the November ballot less than a month away, the Marysville Exempted Village School District Board of Education must make crucial decisions soon.

District voters have rejected three consecutive levy requests -- in March 2008 and November and August 2007.

In each case, voters were asked to approve a total of 9.75 mills. Five mills of that amount went on the ballot to replace a levy set to expire at the end of 2008, while 4.75 was new millage. The district sought separate measures of 5 and 4.75 mills in its first two tries, but combined the millage for the March 2008 ballot.

The board must not only decide how much to ask voters for in November, but also whether to separate the replacement issue from any new millage into two distinct ballot issues.

The deadline to place an item on the November ballot is Aug. 21, according to the Union County Board of Elections.

"Combining (the amounts) probably makes the most sense, to truly show the need," Superintendent Larry Zimmerman told ThisWeek. "But it would be risky to not at least pass the (5-mill) replacement. That would be catastrophic."

Board members Jeff Mabee and Scott Johnson told ThisWeek they could see the value of placing two separate issues on the ballot, but both stressed that the board would take seriously the input from its finance and standards committees before making any decision.

"That input is really going to impact the amount," Mabee said. "That way, the amount we ask for will be specific and have some context to it."

"People want to know what their money is going for, especially given the economic times," he said.

"We want to use that data to drive our decisions," Johnson said.

The finance committee is reviewing the district's expenses and how it spends money, while the standards committee is providing input on prioritizing services and educational opportunities.

In May, the finance committee recommended separating the replacement levy and new levy and also placing the replacement levy on the August ballot, but the board opted not to go before voters until November.

Mabee told ThisWeek he doesn't expect significant discussion on the levies at the board of education's regular July meeting Monday evening at 7 p.m. at the board office. He said there will most likely be some special meetings in early August to hear committee reports and discuss options.

jfischer@thisweeknews.com