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District in Despair

March 21, 2013
Times Leader

EASTERN OHIO school districts are all fighting budget shortcomings. Some worse than others.

The Switzerland of Ohio Local School District finds itself in one of the most unenviable positions. The sprawling district is in financial dire straits.

That point was reinforced Monday night by Superintendent Larry Elliott and Treasurer Lance Erlwein at a public meeting Monday. District officials are seeking passage of a levy on the May ballot that would generate roughly $2.5 million during the five-year period the emergency levy would be in place.

Elliott stressed it will not be used toward the building projects. Rather the revenue generated would be used to ease burdens in several different areas.

The money problems damper what should be a bright time in the district, courtesy of an $86 million building project, providing a major facelift for virtually every school.

Switzerland of Ohio officials have already taken steps to stop the bleeding of red ink, implementing Phase I of its budget cuts. The first phase eliminates a maintenance position, a central office position and a principal's position at Beallsville Elementary School.

Those cuts are painful but can be dealt with.

Should the levy fail in May, Phases II and III will be set in motion. The effects will be much more hard hitting and widespread.

Phase II calls for the elimination of all elementary physical education teaching positions, music teaching positions, home economics/consumer science positions and elementary/ high school shop positions.

Phase III targets the closing of the River High School bus garage and eliminates one bus mechanic position and cuts six ESC teaching aide positions. It gets worse as 23 certified positions will be eliminated and all athletic programs must be able to financially support themselves.

That is a major burden for any school district to digest.

Levy approval would enable money be channeled to many areas, including bus replacement, hiring a school resource officer on every campus within the district and a much more beefed-up teaching staff.

Switzerland of Ohio officials are feverishly championing their cause, as well they should. They face a tough task as levy approvals are not easy and the effects of a defeat are near catastrophic.

The levy will prove a litmus test on how much quality education means to Switzerland of Ohio voters.

 
 

 

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