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Reynoldsburg puts new levy on November ballot
Reynoldsburg Schools board members have voted to put a 9.9-mill levy on the November ballot.
"Now is the time we need to step up, God willing, and get this through," Board Member Chip Martin said at the Aug. 18 meeting.
Superintendent Steve Dackin said 9.9 mills is the minimum amount needed to sustain and survive. The reduced levy - down from a 15.6-mil levy that failed in May - will cost a home owner of a $100,000 home $300 a year - a reduction of $177 a year.
Martin said funds will not come through until 2011 if this November levy fails.
After the May failure, board members cut $11 million from its budget, including sports, elementary art, music and physical education classes. Due to those cuts, many parents and children will search for alternative transportation to school next week.
School board members voted in May to cease busing for high school students, as well as private school transportation. Those students in Kindergarten through 8th grade who live within two miles of their schools also will not be bussed.
Parents attended the school board meeting to voice their concerns for the safety of children as well as costs to the district for students now attending private schools.
Derick Brzenzinksi, a parent whose child has attended Oakstone Academy for two years, faces the daunting task of finding alternative transportation or returning his 13-year-old child who lives with Ausperger Syndrome back to public schooling.
Brzenzinksi addressed the board to request it reconsider its transportation decision. Rather than using a "broad brush" to determine the busing situation, Brzenzinksi recommended looking at the interest of the individual student as well as financial interests of the district.
He voiced his concern that moving his son back to the Reynoldsburg system would require the district to spend more money to meet his special needs than paying to bus him to the private Westerville school.
Anna Iulianelli faces a unique situation where her child steps on the bus in the morning at home but returns to his grandmother's for afternoon care.
District officials told Iulianelli her home address would be the basis for busing. This change causes her son to have to walk on busy Waggoner Road in the afternoons where there are no sidewalks and possible dangerous situations, she said.
Iulianelli cited Ohio Department of Education sources and the school board's own policy that states "the Board provides school bus transportation to all elementary and secondary school students to the extent determined by the administration and approved by the board. This may vary because of safety conditions that prevail in certain areas of the district."
Her interpretation of the policy would require busing for students who face similar situations as her child who will have to walk on Waggoner Road, she said.
School Board President Cheryl Max said the policy specifically speaks to being within that two-mile boundary that has been set for current busing, not in the event that there is not busing to all students.
The district cannot afford transportation, she said. "The money is not there in the budget," she said. "Are we happy with it? Absolutely not. Our job as required by law is to operate within our budget."
However, Dackin said if the levy passes in November, the district can afford to return to busing within a half mile for kindergarten students and one mile for first- through eighth-grade students.
These adjustments can be made as early as January should the levy pass.
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