Wednesday, December 08, 1999

Lakota schools to ask voters for $52.7M in March

2 schools, funds for operations in measure

Enquirer Contributor

        UNION TOWNSHIP — The Lakota School District's drive to get money for two schools got a push Monday when the school board voted to put the $52.7 million issue on the ballot and named two residents to lead the campaign.

        Taxation would rise by 6.74 mills — through a 4.9-mill bond issue and a 1.84-mill operating levy — with the funding package voters will decide on March 7.

        If the single ballot question is approved, taxes would increase by $206 annually on a house with a market value of $100,000, Lakota Treasurer Alan Hutchinson said.

        Parents Andrew Murphy and Bill Goodwin, both members of Lakota's Business Advisory Council, will guide the pro-levy efforts.

        “We can use all the help we can get,” Mr. Murphy said before he was presented with a $100 check from Michelle Zois on behalf of the Hopewell Elementary School's Parent- Teacher Organization.

        Lakota's ballot question would provide $44.5 million to build an elementary school and a junior high school, and fund the first three years of a five-year capital improvements plan. It also would cover land purchases; provide money to upgrade technology; and build a weight room, field house and classroom addition at Lakota East and West high schools.

        The $8.2 million raised by the operating levy would help open the two new schools and keep the district solvent for four years.

        Lakota was one of two Butler County school districts discussing ballot issues this week.

        In the Talawanda Schools, the board is considering two bond issues: one worth $34 million for a new high school and improvements at all other schools, and a $29.9 million issue to pay for a new high school and convert the existing school into an elementary building.

        The Talawanda board will convene Thursday to review its options. On Monday, board members rejected a proposed 7.9-mill levy, saying it was too high, and asked Treasurer James Rowan to come back with alternatives.

        “We're looking into a smaller package,” board President William Vollmer said.

        Mr. Rowan said reducing the levy means “we won't hire as many staff members as we proposed and we won't be able to eliminate school fees like we wanted to.”

        Last month Talawanda voters rejected a 0.75 percent income tax for operations and a 5.84-mill bond issue for construction. Talawanda is facing a cash shortfall by the end of the 2001-02 school year, Mr. Rowan said.

        The board will decide on a funding plan at its Monday meeting, which will begin at 7 p.m. at the Butler Rural Electric Co. on Stillwell-Beckett Road.


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