Trumbull County's children deserve sound education in sound schools

There are some Mahoning Valley voters who complain that The Vindicator has never seen a tax it doesn't like. There are plenty of taxes we don't like, but when it comes to the area's schools, we believe strongly that decent school systems are critically important to the region's future: in the maintenance of property values, in ensuring an educated work force to sustain the area's economy and, above all, to fulfill the promise and potential of every child in every community in the Valley.
Thus, recognizing that what every one of us must pay for schools and education will be far less expensive than the alternative, The Vindicator urges voter support of the following:
New school for LaBrae: Voters in the LaBrae School District have one of those rare opportunities to take advantage of millions of state dollars to build a new school if a 5.4-mill bond issue is passed. The 23-year bond issue will raise $8.9 million, and the state's share from the Ohio School Facilities Commission will provide $20 million -- 70 percent of the total to build a new school for grades three through 12, with separate wings for grades three - five, six - eight and nine - 12. As well as the bond measure, voters must also approve a .5-mill additional levy to provide for the new school's upkeep.
The new facility will provide classrooms that are well lit, heated, air-conditioned and ventilated; up-to-date science and technology labs; and improved student and teacher safety.
And even when students are not using the new school, the building won't be left empty. Rather, the community will be able to use the computer labs, the library and the gymnasium.
The new school should be open in about three years. Under state law, the money from the bond issue can be used for no other purposes.
The LaBrae schools also have a .9-mill renewal levy for five years for school building improvements to existing schools.
Lordstown on the edge: No one can deny that the Lordstown schools are in dire financial straits. Hence, a 6-mill additional levy for five years to avoid a $770,000 operating deficit is now essential.
Technology in Brookfield schools: No one should doubt the need of schools throughout the United States to establish and maintain up-to-date educational technology. Children who do not have access to the Internet, the World Wide Web or modern word-processing, math and other software are at a distinct disadvantage -- now in their classrooms and for their preparation for the job market or college. The 1-mill additional levy that Brookfield Schools are asking for five years to provide for educational technology will not provide a "nice" extra, but instead finance currently required fundamentals.
Howland: The Howland School District has the lowest voted property tax rate in Trumbull County, despite the fact that the state of Ohio only provides about $1,000 per student per year. Hence, the district cannot look for help from the state nor expect any changes under any new funding formula coming from the state legislature. But with many buildings more that 40 years old and with the last operating levy passed in 1992, the Howland schools need more funds if they are to maintain the excellence for which they have become known. The 1-mill permanent improvement levy on the ballot will improve security at all buildings, replace or refurbish windows, doors and roofs, improve air quality in the high school, middle school and Mines and North Road elementary schools, and make classrooms safe and pleasant educational environments.
Fiscal emergency at risk in Hubbard: If Hubbard voters do not pass a 6.4-mill renewal levy and a 5.5-mill emergency levy, the school district is on the same path as other school districts have found themselves when their deficits became insurmountable: the declaration of fiscal emergency by the state auditor and the appointment of an oversight commission to take over finances. Keeping local control of the schools may not be possible unless both levies are passed.
Voters are being asked to approval renewal levies in five other Trumbull County school districts. In each case, passing the levy maintains the school district's financial status quo and results in no new school taxes for homeowners. A 1-mill levy costs the owner of a $100,000 home about $30 per year -- only a few dollars per month.
Joseph Badger: The Joseph Badger School District is seeking passage of a 1.5-mill renewal levy for five years for school building improvements.
Similarly the Lakeview schools hope to see the renewal of a 1-mill levy, also for school building improvements. Buildings that are not maintained only cost more to fix in the long-run, making passage of building improvement levies a wise investment.
Liberty, Southington, Warren: Emergency requirement levies are on the ballot in the Liberty School District, for 3.4 mills; in the Southington School District, for 4.3 mills, and in the Warren School District for 4.2 mills.
Because these are fixed-dollar levies, each generates the same revenue as when it was first passed. Thus as property values increase or communities expand, each homeowner actually pays a lower millage.
Residents who are unhappy with a school district's management have the opportunity to vote for new school board members. But voting "no" on levies only punishes the children. We encourage voters to put their community's children first.