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Elida School Board divided on May levy PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, January 16, 2013 4:10 PM

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ELIDA — Four Elida residents approached the Elida Board of Education Tuesday night, begging members to resolve differences and get behind the district’s request to put a new levy on the ballot in May after two board members voted against the proposal at the last meeting.

Jo Ellen Miller, also an employee of the district, said working together is the key to levy success.

“With all of the detailed information you and the public have been given regarding the cuts in state revenue and reductions that have already been made, how can you not support the levies?” she asked. “Taxpayers don’t want to pay taxes but they want good public schools. None of this is free and Elida is already one of the most financially lean in the state of Ohio. Demonstrate your cooperation by working together for the children, the parents, the staff members and community members of the Elida Local School District. Please, work harder together than you’ve ever worked individually and the levies will pass.”

Michelle Etzkorn, mother of three Elida students, asked board members and residents to vote yes for a better tomorrow.

“In an ideal world, no one would have to pay more for anything. I think we all know that’s unrealistic with the current state of educational funding,” she said. “Let’s stop and think about who our vote truly affects. Not the board, the treasurer or even the superintendent, not nearly as much as it affects our teachers and our students. Do not look for a reason to vote no. Instead, look for a way to make a personal sacrifice to do what is right for our children and to cast the vote that will give them a better tomorrow.”

For three of the last five years, Elida has achieved an excellent rating despite devastating cuts to curriculum and staff over the last decade. Resident Gene Wheeler says this is a testament to the efficiency of the board and the district.

“Obviously, something has been going right with the school board,” he said. “I think people need to put their differences aside and vote for the kids.”

Board members Brian Anders and Brad Settlage, who voted no again Tuesday, said their stance is rooted in community concern.
“Ten weeks ago, 60 percent of voters said no. They said it so strongly and it’s like we haven’t heard them,” Anders said. “It’s like when you say no to a little child. No means no, you don’t keep shoving this in their face.”

“It’s a difference of opinion,” Settlage said. “When we vote, it’s like what I would do at the voting booth. The majority of people who contacted me about the levy were not for it at that time in their lives. My position was totally different from that. I voted to put it on the ballot and they voted it down and I don’t think there has been enough time since it was voted down

for us to put it back out there. I know what I’m going to do. I’m just trying to fulfill my obligation to do what the community wants.”
Board President Dennis Fricke encouraged all to avoid placing blame for the levy on the school and administrators.

“It’s up to the board, the administration and the students to go out and educate our voting public on the need, because we actually have a need for this money,” he said. “Nothing the school has done caused this situation. They’ve pulled the purse strings in Columbus and that is the situation we’re finding ourselves in. It’s not the school’s fault. It’s our representatives, senators and governor in Columbus who are doing this to us.”
In May, voters will be asked to approve a five-year, 5.95 mill property-tax levy that is projected to raise $2.1 million, which will barely allow the district to maintain current operations and retain all-day, everyday kindergarten.

The board concluded the meeting in executive session to discuss a reduction plan. Without any further changes or cuts, a spending deficit of $1,211,879 is projected for 2014 if the levy fails in May. If the district cuts all day kindergarten and makes $465,569 in reductions, the projected spending deficit would still be $447,335. Elida would be forced to go back to the ballot again in November to avoid fiscal emergency.

The board gave a unanimous yes to place a 1 mill renewal levy on the ballot in May, which raises $355,843 a year.

During the board’s organizational meeting on Jan. 8, Dennis Fricke was re-appointed board president, Sally Ulrich was re-appointed vice president, Brenda Stocker was named the board’s Legislative Liason and Brad Settlage was named the Student Achievement Liaison Delegate.

Diglia declared January to be School Board Recognition Month to show appreciation for the Elida Board of Education’s dedication to the district.

The board approved a resolution of appreciation of Elida school counselors for the occasion of National School Counselors Week, Feb. 4-8.
Students of the month for January are: Elida Elementary- Tyler Long, Ben Moening, Conner Smith; Elida Middle School- Emily Campbell, Mason Chiles, Cameron Fetter, Alex Treece; Elida High School- Sarah McCleary, Dakotah Rolfe, A.J. Siefker, Carly Smith.


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