HOWLAND - Bleachers in the high school gymnasium were filled, and the fight song was performed by the band, but the players on the floor were talking levy support, not shooting hoops Monday night.
School officials are looking to pass a 10-year 3.9 mill additional levy. For property owners with a home valued $100,000 that would be a cost of $136.50 per year.
"We all share an interest in the Howland school system, and we all want to see it strengthened and protected," Superintendent John Sheets said.
Treasurer Tom Krispinsky noted the school has seen a decrease in funding since 2011 of $2 million, the same amount the levy is supposed to bring in per year.
The last additional levy was passed 10 years ago in 2003. Even with the passage of the next levy, Krispinsky said Howland would be the third lowest school tax rate within the county.
"There are no unknowns about what we are going to be doing with the funds from this levy," Sheets said.
Among the to-do list are instituting all-day kindergarten, upgrading safety measures, increasing new technology, updating textbooks and retaining teacher positions rather than eliminating them with retirement, the school's current practice.
Members in the audience asked questions of the administration on what would happen if the levy didn't pass and what connection there might be to switching the school's affiliation with Ashtabula Tech to the Trumbull Career and Technical Center.
To the former, Sheets' answer was simple: the proposed enhancements would not take place. To the latter, more explanation was needed.
Howland Schools additional 3.9 mill levy:
Cost for $100,000 property is $136.50 annually
Brings in $2 million annually
Goal: all-day kindergarten, upgraded technology, increased security, teacher retention.
While the administration maintains the levy and the TCTC issue are separate, a switch to TCTC would mean an additional 2.4 mill TCTC tax imposed on Howland residents. The thought of a double increase in taxes ties them together in the opinion of several of the attendees.
Both Sheets and Board of Education President Ken Jones said that when the bridge is crossed concerning the technical schools the decision will be made based on what will strengthen the learning of the students. Residents' ability to vote on the TCTC levy would not take place until the school hypothetically became a member of TCTC, which requires approval by the state and TCTC, according to Sheets.
The TCTC levy does not come up for a vote until 2014 for those schools affiliated with it. The Howland levy will be up for vote on Nov. 5.