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Strong opinions on both sides of Marietta levy issue

April 9, 2011
By Ashley Hill ( , The Marietta Times

When Marietta voters head to the polls to cast their votes on the May 3 ballot, they'll have to decide whether or not to support a five-year, 6.21-mill operating levy for Marietta City Schools.

The district is facing deficit spending in each of the next five years and a $12 million deficit in 2015. Board of education president Greg Gault said the levy money would go towards operational costs, staff salaries and possibly restoring programs that have been cut, such as a second foreign language class at the high school.

"I really think this is an opportunity for the Marietta school district to turn the corner and to start building back up rather than continuing to tear down," Gault said.

The board of education has already approved measures that would go into place if the issue fails, including cutting nine teaching positions and 14 non-academic positions, as well as eliminating busing to the high school and for students within two miles of other schools.

The board has also approved increasing student fees by 20 percent, instituting a pay-to-participate program for sports and other extracurricular activities like band and choir and closing school buildings to community activities. If the levy fails in May, the district plans to put it on the November ballot.

Maribeth Browne has a daughter who is a junior at Marietta High School and two other children who graduated from there and are now enrolled in college. She said she supports the levy issue.

Fact Box

Marietta City Schools

operating levy:

Five-year, 6.21-mill levy

The levy will cost the owner of property assessed at $100,000 a total of $190.27 a year. It will raise $2.75 million a year.

If the levy does not pass, the board has already approved $1.45 million in cuts.

"All that (college) education costs a lot and yet, I still think it's my responsibility to support the Marietta City Schools, too," she said. "These students that are in the schools, they're the lifeblood of Marietta and really our country, so we do need to invest."

Some Marietta voters, including Dan Strecker, 58, are still on the fence about the levy issue. Strecker said he doesn't have any children or grandchildren enrolled in the school district.

"I probably will vote for it but I haven't made up my mind for sure," he said. "It's going to be a fair increase on our property taxes."

The levy will cost the owner of property assessed at $100,000 a total of $190.27 a year. It will raise $2.75 million a year.

Toni Saling, 36, whose daughter is in kindergarten at Harmar Elementary, said to her supporting the levy is "just common sense."

Saling said she's very concerned that Marietta Superintendent Bruce Thomas has said that if voters reject the proposed operating levy in May, and again in November, he will recommend to the board of education that kindergarten classes go back to half a day and the district possibly charge parents who want full-day classes.

"That's not going to work," she said. "If I'm working...I have to know my daughter is in school."

She also thinks eliminating busing to the high school and for students within two miles of other schools could create some major issues.

"Not all high schoolers can drive," Saling said. "You're going to have a lot of truant (students)."

Marietta resident Bob Gomola, 61, said he is opposed to the issue, mainly because of the current state of the economy.

"When times are good, people are usually overly generous when it comes to education but right now the timing is not good," he said.



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