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Marietta City Schools gives levy issue a second chance

March 4, 2011
From Staff Reports

MARIETTA - Marietta City Schools is hoping for a second chance at passing a $2.75 million levy.

The original was defeated in November, but officials have returned the issue to the May 3 election.

The district's financial forecast hasn't improved, said board President Greg Gault. Marietta is spending less per student than any other district in Washington County and below the state average, he said.

"That's not a number to be proud of," Gault said. "But it shows that we've cut costs, expenses and programs to the point where we can't cut anymore. This is where we need to go now to start putting things back."

In its last five-year financial forecast submitted to the Ohio Department of Education, the Marietta district was expected to have deficit spending each year and a deficit of $12 million by fiscal year 2015.

The levy on the May ballot is for five years and 6.21 mills, slightly less than the 6.38 mills in November.

"The dollar amount it's bringing in is the same as in November," said district Treasurer Matt Reed. "Due to an increase in valuation, the millage actually went down a little bit."

Gault said a levy committee is in the process of being formed and will likely have 20 to 25 members.

"We should be getting started next week, and we'll have to get moving," he said. "May will be here before you know it."

Financial issues have plagued Marietta City Schools in recent years, which like most Ohio school systems relies heavily on local bonds and levies to supplement its state funding. In November 2009 a a bond issue that would have paid the local share of a school construction project failed before voters.

Last November the proposed levy was defeated by nearly 55 percent of voters and was the only levy in Washington County to fail in that election. Frontier Local Schools and Washington County Home renewal levies passed as well as a new levy for the Washington County Public Library.

If the levy passes in May, the money will be used for operating expenses in the district.

Board members said they not only hope to eliminate that deficit with additional revenue from the levy but to put programs that have been eliminated in the schools in recent years back in place.

Voters have expressed hesitancy to pass the levy, citing personal financial issues in a still-down local economy.



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