Frontier Local OKs 3 levy options

NEW MATAMORAS -As the aftermath of closing Lawrence Elementary several months ago quiets down, the Frontier Local Board of Education approved three levy options to put on the November general election ballot at its regular meeting Monday evening.

Back in 2013, ideas on the table included a 9.19-mill property tax levy to put on the ballot at a later date, but the district now has the option to put a smaller levy amount out to voters as a result of savings it will accumulate from closing Lawrence Elementary, to the tune of about $120,000 annually.

Now, district treasurer Frank Antill will take three levy options to the Washington County auditor for review, in which time the board will approve one of the options at its July or August meeting.

The three options are emergency operating levies that all will cover the next five years, in the amount of $350,000, $400,000 and $500,000 generated annually for the district.

Though not yet confirmed by the auditor’s office, the district estimates that those three revenue amounts will translate into 5.08-mill, 5.81-mill and 7.26-mill levies, respectively.

After the amounts are submitted, the Washington County auditor will have about one week to give feedback on what the levy would need to look like to generate each amount, including the cost for individual homeowners.

“It gives us a wide range for revenue options,” Antill said. “And we want to wait to have some more community meetings and explain everything to everyone so they know what the options are.”

The board has already held town meetings at the different elementary schools, and Superintendent Bruce Kidder said so far, feedback as well as understanding of how the levy works has been positive.

“If we want to stay under six mills, I’d recommend the $400,000 option,” Kidder said. “Just understand that we do not collect all of that amount, but a portion of it.”

At previous meetings when the closing of Lawrence was on the table, several members of the public, in addition to overwhelming support through applause, assured the board that if it found another way to save money, the community would support a levy that was less than original estimates.

“Depending on the millage we pick, that’s what determines where we will go from there,” said board Vice President Ricky Kroll. “If it passes, that’s great, but obviously the more we get the more we can do with it.”

The district has not passed any kind of new operating levies since 1995, and Kidder said the money would go toward keeping the district afloat in difficult times.

“It’s a long time to run a school on the same dollar amount,” he said.

Kidder also stressed that district faculty had not received raises since early 2012, and that the district was also trying to pay for a new $88,000 bus.

“Those are not cheap, and we have a lot of routes and the gravel roads are hard on them,” he said. “We’d also like to look at trying to pay benefits and salaries, and we’d like to look at curriculum material.

In addition to approving the three levy options, the board also:

Approved an annual membership of $346 with Air Evac, a program in New Martinsville that covers the cost of transporting both home and away athletes in case of a medical emergency during a sporting event.

Failed to pass a resolution to purchase an $87,844 bus from Edwin H. Davis and Son, Inc. in order to give the board more time to make decisions about leasing options

Approved board member Kurt Bohlen to serve as a delegate for the November Ohio State Board Association conference.