STRUTHERS Board wants 8-mill levy

It's been eight years since the district asked voters to pass a levy.
STRUTHERS -- Staring at a financial crisis, the Struthers Board of Education voted 5-0 Tuesday night to place an 8-mill levy on the May 3 ballot.
Board members spent about 90 minutes explaining in considerable detail how they hope to cut spending in the months to come. Still, they said, they have no choice but to ask city voters to increase property taxes in order to provide enough revenue to keep their schools operating at an acceptable level.
An 8-mill levy is expected to generate just more than $1.08 million a year for the school district. If approved, the levy will increase the tax on a home valued at $100,000 by $245 a year, or $21.41 per month, school district Treasurer Dr. Michael Evanson said.
It has been eight years since the last time the district went to the voters with a levy.
State funding accounts for 70 percent of the school district's budget, a higher rate than most other school districts in the area, according to a chart distributed by school district officials to the approximately 50 people who attended the meeting.
"Our system is dependent on state funds," board President Matthew Rhoads said.
Consequently, as the state cuts back its level of financing for local school systems, the Struthers district takes a bigger hit than some other areas where property values are higher and tax-paying industries are more prevalent, officials said.
Additional revenue
District officials said they also are looking at other ways to bring in money for the district, including opening enrollment to out-of-district students to increase the per-pupil payments the district receives from the state.
Rhoads and Superintendent Dr. Sandra J. DiBacco detailed a range of personnel changes -- reductions in the current staff and elimination of positions because of pending retirements -- that will provide some measure of savings for the district.
Decisions are being made on a position-by-position basis.
"There are no sacred cows," Rhoads said. "At the end of the day, we still have to provide quality education and determine what's best for the community of Struthers and the students of Struthers."
He added a cautionary note about the impact of continued reductions: "Eventually, you get to the point where you're cutting into bone."
Thus, the board feels compelled to ask city taxpayers to pitch in to keep the district's budget into the black for the next five years without forcing cuts so drastic that educational results begin to suffer, he said.