Champion BOE seeks levy

CHAMPION – With recommendations from both the levy and finance committees and also support from about 200 residents who attended a forum recently, the Champion Board of Education decided Monday to place a 5.95-mill operating levy on the May 7 primary ballot.

The 10-year levy will generate $1 million annually for day-to-day operations and needs of the district.

Board member Maureen Seafert said the district has no choice but to seek a levy since by law it cannot operate ”in the red” and noted that by the end of the fiscal year on June 30 the district has to balance the budget.

”If we end up in the red, we will have to make cuts to meet the budget,” she said.

If approved, the money from the levy would begin being collected in 2014.

Superintendent Pamela Hood said the board approved the lowest amount possible to help the district operate without making more cuts.

With the defeat of a school levy last November, the district lost a year of collecting funds in 2013 and had to close the school libraries, increase class size and cut back on programs and services.

Treasurer Brian Gillespie said the district has been getting less money from the state.

Babette Sisler, levy committee chair, said people who attended the forum were shocked that the school libraries were closed and that students have less access to technology and computers.

”The residents have a feel of what our school district is facing with more cuts and have a strong support for putting a levy on the ballot in May,” she said.

About 200 people attended the recent forum and the majority supported placing a levy on the ballot, Sisler said.

Parents at Monday’s meeting offered to volunteer at the libraries to help to keep them open.

Hood said parents can contact the school principals to see how they can help.

In other action, the board:

Heard from high school principal Mary Walker about plans for the 2013-14 school year to offer high school courses in biology, French IV, speech and astronomy for college credit in addition to the calculus class that is offered this year. She said this will help families save money for college by taking several courses in high school at no cost while earning three or four credit hours per course. Walker said classes are available through an arrangement with Kent and Youngstown State universities. There also are plans for advanced placement European history for three credits;

Heard from Central Elementary principal Ali Nannicola, who asked the board to consider when funds become available offering all-day kindergarten to better prepare students. She noted there are children who do not attend preschool and often need to be caught up in kindergarten which is 2.5 hours per day;

Approved the 2013-14 school calendar with first day for students Aug. 26 and last day May 29, 2014;

Approved an installment agreement with Johnson Controls for the purchase of energy conservation measures for the heating systems in the district at $40,015 payable over five years and a service agreement of $69,420, also payable over five years;

Named Terry Howell as varsity football coach and Richard Palumbo and Richard VonBergen as assistant varsity football coaches.