Saturday, February 1, 2003

St. Bernard-Elmwood levy stands pat

Taxes won't go up if voters renew it

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer contributor

This is the last in a series of stories previewing Tuesday's special election.

ST. BERNARD - Taxes will not increase for St. Bernard-Elmwood Place Schools if voters Tuesday renew a five-year, $1 million levy, first approved in 1998.

The levy raises slightly more than 10 percent of the school district's $10 million general fund budget, said Mike Mays, district treasurer.

"Its purpose is to maintain the good services we have now. We are not adding programs," said Carroll Roberts, superintendent of the 1,070-student district. "We are doing a good job and we are steadily improving. Moving from academic watch to continuous improvement on the (Ohio) Report Card was an important step."

In 2000 the district cut spending by $671,000 so that taxes would not have to be raised again, Roberts said. Should the renewal levy fail, additional cuts would have to be made. "Over the past two years, just as families have had to do in this tough financial time, we have cut back in several areas, including reducing programs and building budgets for each of our three schools," Roberts said, adding there is one fewer administrator as well.

Elmwood Place resident Carlene Watson's children are grown, but she still heads the combined St. Bernard Elementary/High School parent teacher group and is supportive of the district she graduated from in 1974. "It's the school I went to when I was growing up. It's a very fine school district," said Watson, who has grandchildren at St. Bernard Elementary. "I support this renewal.''

Another supporter is St. Bernard resident Lana Cookingham, who has three special-needs children in the district. "I've never seen a district that supports a parent the way this district does," Cookingham said. "The teachers go out of their way.''


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