Although work on a major levy campaign was completed in 2008, this year will not be easy for New Albany-Plain Local Schools.

Although work on a major levy campaign was completed in 2008, this year will not be easy for New Albany-Plain Local Schools.

The district will again have to work hard, looking into an expiring permanent improvement levy, possible bond issue and more.

The district saw major victories in 2008 with the passage of a 24.4-mill continuing operating levy and an "Excellent with distinction" rating on the state report card.

"When I look at 2008, I want to commend the entire staff and community," district superintendent Steve Castle said. "We had a year of a lot of celebrations."

Work will continue from 2008 in keeping the school district at an excellent rating on the state report card.

"In 2009 we'll have no time to rest. First and foremost as we kick off this new year, we'll continue our philosophy," Castle said. "We will be driven by our mission, which is students and their achievement."

Dealing with the student population will be a big focus for 2009, as well.

"As we look into 2009, district-wide the challenge is what to do about school facilities," Castle said.

While growth has slowed in the school district because of the economic recession, Castle said enrollment has outgrown current facilities.

"We understand we're in difficult economic times and we've established a lot of fiscal responsibility in past years," he said. "We don't want anyone to think we're not focused on thatÉbut we really need to take a look at facilities."

The district went before voters for a bond issue to build a 5-6 middle school in May and November of 2007, but was unsuccessful in each attempt.

The district will use the 1925 building at 79 North High Street to house students, but Castle said it's not a long-term solution.

"We're going to have to engage the community and work with the community as to whether or not a bond issue appears on the ballot in 2009," he said. "I don't want to speculate today because answers are far away."

Voters could also have a crack at a 2-mill permanent improvement levy that expires at the end of the year.

The permanent improvement levy has been on a five-year cycle at 2 mills for several years, although Castle said the district will gage community support before making any plans.

"The question comes back to what we're going to do with a bond issue," he said. "It'll take a lot of study. A lot of us are very, very concerned. We share the same concern a lot of other people have."

The district would be reluctant to increase the permanent levy if it is placed on the ballot this year, Castle said.

"It's been 2 mills for 15 years," he said. "There's always reason to look at do we increase that sum because we have more facilities to take care of? But I'd be reluctant to do that."

In addition to continued work on academics and the possibility of tax issues, Castle said a financial advisory committee will be created and work on updating the district's strategic plan will continue.