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Published: Tuesday, 10/2/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

Perrysburg schools facing significant cuts if November levy fails, superintendent warns

BY REBECCA CONKLIN KLEIBOEMER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Editor's note: The original version of this story listed an incorrect amount that would be lost from the schools' budget should the levy fail. The district stands to lose $7.5 million if the levy is rejected.

If the 13.15-mill Perrysburg Schools levy fails in November, students may need to find their own way to school, spend a shorter time there in a bigger classes, miss out on classes such as technology or foreign language, and pay to participate in extracurricular activities.

Such a scenario would be possible under a plan outlined Tuesday by Superintendent Thomas Hosler who suggested a contingency list of staff, program, and transportation cuts during the school board’s work session.The proposal was made available to teachers and staff later in the morning.

“This plan would become the springboard for the process ... that in the end the board would have the ultimate word in what happens for the direction of the district,” Mr. Hosler said. “There’s nothing good about what’s on this list.”

The district stands to lose $7.5 million, about 20 percent of its $40 million annual budget, if the levy on the Nov. 6 ballot is rejected, Treasurer Matt Feasel said.

The superintendent said state minimum requirements framed the proposed adjustments, including a shorter school day that offered fewer courses.

Nearly 96 positions in administrative, teaching, and support would need to be eliminated, Mr. Hosler told the board. Cuts in transportation, field trips, and support for sports and extracurricular activities also were suggested.

READ: Superintendent Thomas Hosler's letter to the community.

Voters are being asked to approve an estimated 13.15 mills that would generate $10 million in the first year. The tax would increase to 14.4 mills in the second year, to 15.7 mills in the third year, and to 17 mills in the final fourth year. The owner of a home valued at $200,000 would pay about $204 more the first year, then about $72 more a year the next three years. Under the current 9.95-mill levy, set to expire at the end of 2012, the owner of a $200,000 home pays about $609 a year.

The announcement of possible cuts coincided with the start of early voting in Ohio. “We need to have voters informed when they are at the polls,” he said.

His budget-trimming suggestions include eliminating 33.5 positions, including 5 administrative positions and 25.5 support staff (bus drivers, custodians, food service, library aides, monitors, and secretaries) to save $1.5 million; eliminating at the elementary level 33.5 teachers and 12 support staff to save $2 million, and at the secondary education level, cut 16.7 teaching positions to save $1.3 million.

He suggested shortening the school day to state minimums. Hours, not including lunch periods, would be 2.5 for kindergarten; 5 for grades 1-6, and 5.5 for grades 7-12. High school students have seven, 50-minute class periods, or about 5.8 hours, now. Full-day kindergarten would be eliminated, returning to an alternating half-day schedule.

Other suggestions: increase class sizes; cut field trips, reduce custodial staff and close buildings after being cleaned, and eliminate bus transportation for high school students and to private and charter schools. About 25 percent of high school students ride buses, Mr. Hosler said.

Varied start times for elementary buildings would reduce the number of bus routes, and elementary, junior high, and St. Rose students would share buses. Walking distance could be increase from 1 mile to the state maximum of 2 miles, but Mr. Hosler said that would raise safety issues.

Mr. Hosler suggested assessing full fees for extracurricular and athletic activities. Students now pay $75 a year for activities that require transportation. The proposal would break down the cost per student per activity. For example, a football player could pay $819 or a golfer $470, Mr. Hosler said.

Tom Przybylski, a guidance counselor and president of Perrysburg Education Association, said many junior high students participate in athletics, especially track. Pay-to-play could limit participation and have an adverse effect on kids’ socialization skills, he said.

School board members Tuesday expressed concern that voters think that failure of the school levy in November could be mitigated by passage of future levies. Board member Barry Van Hoozen called it a “great misunderstanding” among the public because loss of tax collection for one calendar year would affect two school years.

Board member Walter Edinger said he anticipates people would move out of the district if it was unable to provide a solid college preparatory track, which Mr. Hosler said would affect the real estate market and other local economies.

Kellie Johnson, a fourth-grade teacher at Woodland Elementary who is a Perrysburg graduate and mother who made the choice to live in the school district because of the level of service it provides students, said she would hate to see the school district’s system compromised. “When a class gets bigger, the teachers just stretch thinner,” she said, but noted that “no matter what circumstances you’re put in, you’ll make the best of it.”

Contact Rebecca Conklin Kleiboemer at rconklin@theblade.com or 419-356-8786.



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