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

Big cuts predicted if levy fails

Perrysburg school chief asks to slash jobs, class hours, buses routes

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.

Perrysburg schools' superintendent Thomas Hosler Perrysburg schools' superintendent Thomas Hosler
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If the Perrysburg Schools levy fails in November, students may need to make their own way to school, spend a shorter time in a bigger class, 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 a school board 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.”

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

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.

Mr. Hosler said state minimum requirements framed the proposed adjustments, including a shorter school day with fewer course offerings.

Nearly 96 positions in administration, teaching, and support would have to be eliminated, Mr. Hosler told the board.

Cuts in transportation, field trips, and support for sports and extracurricular activities also were suggested.

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, 15.7 mills in the third year, and 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 elimination of 33.5 positions, including 5 administrative posts and 25.5 support staff (bus drivers, custodians, food service, library aides, monitors, and secretaries) to save $1.5 million; dismissal of 33.5 teachers and 12 support staff at the elementary level to save $2 million; and cuts of 16.7 teaching jobs 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 bus routes, and elementary, junior high, and St. Rose students could share buses. Walking distance could be increased 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 the 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 students’ socialization skills, he said.

School board members Tuesday expressed concern that voters may think failure of the levy in November could be mitigated by passage of future levies. Board member Barry Van Hoozen called it a “great misunderstanding” among citizens 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 the school system were 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, Perrysburg graduate, and mother who said she made the choice to live in the district because of the level of service it provides students, said she would hate to see the 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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