Superintendent Steve Dackin said last week he should be able to recommend a dollar amount for an operating levy by the time the Reynoldsburg Board of Education meets in June.

Superintendent Steve Dackin said last week he should be able to recommend a dollar amount for an operating levy by the time the Reynoldsburg Board of Education meets in June.

Dackin told the board at its May 20 meeting that he and the finance committee are currently working to determine the size of the levy he wants placed on the November ballot.

"I would argue that we needed an operating levy two or two and a half years ago, but we wanted to stretch what we have because we knew we were going back to the voters for a bond request and we've done that," he said.

"I believe this community understands full and well what we did over the last five or six years," he said. "If you build buildings, you'll need funds to operate those buildings."

Dackin said the district has cut its budget by more than $6.5-million over the last two and a half years. That amount includes the $2.2-million he has recommended the board cut for fiscal year 2009.

"If we don't get additional dollars for operational purposes, we will have to continue to reduce our expenditures," he said.

The last levy the district passed was a 5.9-mill operating levy in 1997. Dackin said money from the state, which makes up 51 percent of the district's revenue, has been flat for the last three years.

"If we you are going to continue to provide the level of service and programs you have now, there's going to be the responsibility of the local community that generates those dollars," he said. "If you look at the financial condition of the state, it is not optimistic, and I'm not projecting any kind of improvement in the next financial cycle, either."

Dackin said data and feedback gathered from the Reynoldsburg Reach meetings should be ready to put together by June. He said he plans to make a recommendation in July based on the results of those meetings.

The district scheduled 27 Reynoldsburg Reach meetings in 60 days, seeking feedback from residents, teachers and students about the kinds of programs they envision for the new elementary and high school. The last Reynoldsburg Reach session is being held tonight, May 29, at 7 p.m. at the high school.

"It has been an interesting process so far, and I have to say I am a little disappointed in the turnout," Dackin said. "I would like for more people to participate."

He said district officials have estimated that a little more than 300 residents have participated in the community meetings since they began in April.

"It's the kind of process that yields real genuine feedback and that's been our commitment all along," Dackin said.

Assistant Superintendent Dan Hoffman said he was recently approached by the district's bus drivers and cooks, who said they wanted to participate in the process. Meetings with them will be scheduled within the next week, he said.

Hoffman announced the district is sending out a special survey to students in grades five through 11 to learn more about their experiences in the classroom. The survey will be conducted by The Tripod Project, a consortium of schools and districts that promote working together to help close the academic achievement gap.

He said the survey asks students and teachers about three areas: content, teaching and assessment strategies, and relationships.

Hoffman said the survey is confidential; once completed, the forms are mailed to The Tripod Project, which will then produce a profile of what students are thinking and feeling. Teachers will receive an individual teacher profile, if they request it in writing.

"We think, in turning these around by the end of June, this is another data set that can help inform our school design efforts," he said.

Hoffman said because of Reynoldsburg's data-collection efforts, officials from the Franklin County Educational Services Center approached the district to be a model for other local districts in using the survey. Therefore, he said, Reynoldsburg will pay nothing for the survey.

Information about the survey is also available on the district's Web site at www.reyn.org.

dowen@thisweeknews.com

Steve

Dackin