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School Districts Ask Voters to Approve More Tax Levies

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Yet again, voters around Northeast Ohio are being asked to dig into their pockets to pay tax levies for their local schools. ideastream®'s Michelle Kanu reports that districts say getting the additional dollars now will help them avoid major budget shortfalls next school year.

Sunday, October 31, 2010 at 10:00 am

Columbia Local Schools are hoping the fourth time's the charm.

They're asking voters to approve a 2 mill permanent improvement levy and a 1.85 mill bond issue for the fourth time. That money, an extra $118 per one hundred thousand in home value, would help the district add elementary grades onto their middle school building.

Superintendent Graig Bansek worries, if voters say no again, the district will face a deficit and pass on costs to families.

Bansek: "They're going to pay an even higher pay to participate fee, an even higher district student fee, we're going to reduce our classified and certified staff, we're going to eliminate our gifted education and advanced placement courses at the high school."

The story is similar around the region; forty two school districts in seven northeast Ohio counties have levies on the November 2nd ballot. The levies are especially high stakes for districts like Parma where voters have rejected additional taxes for the district six times and high school students attend part-time.

Aware that voters are experiencing levy fatigue, officials at Brooklyn Schools in Cuyahoga County have come up with a plan to raise money in the future - with a little investment now.

They've put a bond issue worth $29 million on the ballot to build a k-12 educational building large enough to rent out space to businesses. That would generate funds for the district and jobs for the community.

Cynthia Walker is the superintendent.

Walker: "We really are trying to think out of the box and create a campus feel over there that also includes a revenue stream. We are having significant discussions with other businesses and other service industries that our citizens could take advantage of."

In addition to school districts, several municipal townships, two community colleges, a handful of libraries also have levies on the ballot.

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