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Some cuts come back if levy passes
Harrisburg Elementary School will remain closed, even if voters approve Issue 2.
The announcement was made at the June 8 South-Western City School District Board of Education meeting. Deputy Superintendent Phil Warner said residents have told the district to tighten its belt.
The district has made $8 million in cuts for the next school year. If citizens vote in favor of the 8.3-mill tax levy, some of the cuts would be restored.
"We will still implement about $2 million in cuts, even if Issue 2 passes," said Warner.
Keeping Harrisburg closed is one way the district plans to save money. So far, 66 positions have been cut; 40 of those positions would not be restored. Warner said this would include 24 teaching positions and 16 support positions.
The district will also continue with plans to reduce heating and cooling costs, by keeping buildings at a higher temperature.
Warner reported if Issue 2 is approved, many of the cuts would be reinstated. The Kingston School would reopen, buildings would open for use after hours and high school transportation would be restored, with consolidated routes. The deputy superintendent said the district also plans to bring back two teachers, 12 classified positions and three administrators.
Athletics and extracurricular activities would be reinstated.
Warner explained the Ohio Capital Conference (OCC) has developed a dual fall sports schedule, which is dependent on the levy. If the levy passes in August, "We would have the opportunity, for the most part, to compete in the conference," said Warner.
He added, "Will it be perfect? Will it be the the way it was last year? No, but we will try to restore the activities to the best of our ability."
If the levy fails, there are options for athletes. The Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) allows students to transfer to other school districts if athletics are not available in the home district. However, the student is only eligible to play if they played in the sport the year before.
The OHSAA requires a letter from the district stating athletics have been discontinued. Warner said the association would not act on a transfer request until the outcome of the levy. If a student transfers to another district, steps on the field for practice, and the levy passes, that student cannot come back to South-Western.
Residents had mixed views on Issue 2.
"I am pleased some of the cuts would be restored if the levy passes, especially the staff," said former Central Crossing Principal Ed Palmer. "I know we have a very committed staff."
Levy opponent Terry Jones said he would like to see more of a sacrifice from district employees, before taxpayers are asked to fund their salaries.
"The one-year pay freeze is ridiculous," said Jones. "There's not a lot of real sacrifice there."
Jones questioned why the residents should have to pay the salary of district employees who make more than the average area homeowner.
Grove City High School senior class president Matthew Warner said voters can play the "blame game" all they want, but they should really blame the state. He said education funding is unfair and unconstitutional. He encourages residents and students to contact state legislators to fix the funding.
Board President Cathy Johnson agreed.
"The board does not take lightly any cuts we've made," she said. "We continue to work with the governor and state legislators on education funding."
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