The stakes will be higher when the Worthington schools operating levy returns to the ballot in November.

The stakes will be higher when the Worthington schools operating levy returns to the ballot in November.

What could be on the line -- from class sizes to school configuration to athletics -- will become more clear on Friday morning, when Superintendent Melissa Conrath is scheduled to unveil a list of possible spending reductions.

Cuts are in store, regardless of the outcome of the November vote.

But reductions will be more severe if voters again turn down a levy.

In May, a 7.4-mill levy was rejected by voters. The margin of defeat was 60-40.

The levy would have raised $13-million a year for the schools and would have cost the owner of a $200,000 home an additional $453.25 a year in property taxes.

The board immediately announced that it planned to return to the ballot in November. If that levy fails, $7-million in cuts would have to be phased in over 18 months, Conrath said.

If that levy fails and voters also defeat a follow-up levy in the spring, cuts will go even deeper.

On Monday, the board agreed to seek a levy in November and committed to making it last for at least three years before coming back to the voters.

Board member Jennifer Best said that because of the state of the economy, she is in favor of "the lowest millage possible," but that a two-year cycle puts too much strain on educators.

"I would rather go with a three-year or four-year cycle," she said.

Board member Charlie Wilson said he also favors a three-year levy, but believes the board should not promise how long funds will last.

"I will not guarantee it will last three years, but I hope it will last four, five, or even six years," he said.

The board will meet at 9 a.m. Friday to review a list of possible cuts that are being prepared by the superintendent and by treasurer Jeff McCuen. The list will include everything that the district offers that exceeds state minimum standards. Each potential cut will come with a price tag.

With that information in hand, the board will be able to construct possible scenarios that would go into effect if the levy fails.

The list is being compiled with the input of administrators and some parents, and more community members will be invited to make suggestions before any decisions are made.

On Friday, the board will have its initial discussion of possible cuts that will be made if the November levy fails, and at what else would be at stake if the board is forced to place the ballot on the spring 2010 ballot.

Board member Marc Schare said the board will not be ready to make final decisions on Friday, since members will not get a chance to look at the list until the meeting. Conrath said she would try to get the list to board members on Thursday, adding that she did not expect any final decisions on Friday.

"There will be tremendous value in getting it out and having some discussion," she said.

In earlier interviews, Conrath said some cuts will be made immediately.

A hold has been put on plans to hire two new staff members needed for the International Baccalaureate program being planned for Slate Hill Elementary School.

The only new positions in the district next year will be mandated additions to the special education and ESL programs. No new elementary teachers will be hired until it is certain that they are needed.

Administrators have not revealed specific reductions that could be made if the fall levy fails.

Possibly on the chopping block could be the current kindergarten through grade six elementary school configuration. Even though it is unpopular with parents, educators for years have looked at the idea of creating schools for kindergarten through grade three and for grades four through six.

Other possible areas for cuts are high school classes, busing, and athletics. Class sizes could also be increased, since most Worthington classes are smaller than required by the state.