Monday, January 29, 2001

Edgewood seeks levy to avoid cuts

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer Contributor

        TRENTON — Edgewood Schools Superintendent Dale Robertson doesn't want to see empty classrooms next fall.

        Not after it took five tries before voters approved an $18.5 million bond issue in November 1998 that adds classrooms to this rapidly growing northern Butler County school district. But that's what could happen if a 6.9-mill operating levy is rejected at the polls Feb. 6.

        “We might have the space but no teachers because we'd have to cut personnel,” Mr. Robertson said.

        The district cut supplies and building maintenance to bare-bones levels just to end the current school year in the black, so the only areas left to cut are supplemental contracts and transportation, Mr. Robertson said.

        Without the new money the district is facing cuts of $1.2 million for the 2001-02 school year. Some cuts could come as early as next month.

        “It's been 14 years since we last passed an operating levy,” Mr. Robertson said. “We've got over 1,000 more students enrolled, 760 of those in the last six years.”

        Besides a growing student population, now estimated at about 3,300, the district this year will face the effects of utility deregulation. Treasurer Ryan Slone said state officials have estimated the district's property valuation for tax purposes will drop from $348 million in 2001 to $308 million in 2002 because of deregulation. The Woodsdale power plant lies within district boundaries and provided extra electricity in summer months.

        Another factor is the “cap” imposed by legislators that limits the amount of new state aid a district receives. The cap cost Edgewood about $325,000 in state aid, Mr. Slone said.

        Passage of the levy would mean the district could add advanced placement courses that were cut in 1992 for budgetary reasons. They could be added in 2002.


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