August 27, 2014

Elyria
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Oberlin meets to map levy plan

District will weigh merits of uniting levies or adding tax

OBERLIN — Faced with the prospect of asking voters for three school levies in two years, the Oberlin School Board will seek alternatives at a meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
Unless the district combines levies, it could be seeking a new operating levy in November along with its second attempt to pass a technology levy, school officials said.
If that’s not enough to tire voters, an 8-mill operating levy will expire in December 2008.
Superintendent Geoffrey Andrews said the school board will discuss combining some of the levies or seeking additional income tax for the schools.  Those living in the Oberlin School District now pay a 1.25-percent school income tax.
“We certainly don’t want to be running three levies,” Andrews said.
One thing is certain, according to Andrews and district Treasurer Diane Wolf: The school board is acting now to avert a future crisis.
“We don’t want to be surprised,” the superintendent said.
Wolf said School Board President Marci Alegant asked her to prepare financial projections including revenue estimates for additional 0.25-percent or 0.5-percent income taxes. 
A $400,000 surplus is projected in June 2008, and a $40,000 surplus is projected in June 2009. The schools would be about $500,000 in the hole in June 2010, according to Andrews.
In May, voters defeated a 1.9-mill permanent levy that would have put a laptop in the hands of every student in the middle and high schools. The levy, which failed in a vote of 59 percent to 41 percent, would have replaced a 1-mill, five-year technology levy that twice has been approved.
Andrews said there are positive and negative aspects of dependence on property taxes and income taxes.
“A property tax is a flat revenue stream, but income taxes goes up and down with income,” he said.
Meanwhile, Andrews said Oberlin teachers agreed to
2 percent raises in the 2008-09 school year and the 2009-10 school year. Passage of a levy could give teachers an additional 1.5 percent in the second semester of 2008-09 and an effective rate of
2.95 percent in 2009-10.
The wage agreement for Oberlin’s 90 teachers also includes an increased employee share in health care costs to 7 percent by 2010 and language that requires eligible spouses to participate in health coverage from their own employer.
Teachers also are eligible for two incentive payments of $185 if the district achieves “effective” status in 2009 and/or “excellent” status in 2010.
The contract also calls for a restructured day involving a one-hour meeting for teachers each day prior to student arrival time devoted to issues ranging from professional development to intervention assistance.
About 60 non-teaching staff will vote on a tentative contract today.
Contact Cindy Leise at 329-7245 or cleise@chroniclet.com.