Looking to learn more details about the five-year, 6.21-mill operating levy being sought by Marietta City Schools - or what impacts there may be if the levy fails - about 35 residents gathered in Reno Monday evening for the second of three scheduled town hall meetings on the issue.
Kelly Miller, 33, of Reno, said she came to Monday's meeting with concerns about what the levy would mean to her two children, one of whom is a second-grader at Phillips Elementary School and the other child is set to begin kindergarten this fall.
Miller said she is concerned by the potential teacher cuts proposed, which could mean larger class sizes. and the possibility that kindergarten would revert back to a half-day program.
"I was on the fence on how I would vote when I got here, but I after hearing everything tonight, I don't think we have a choice," Miller said. "I think we need to find a way to make this happen."
School officials say without the operating levy the district will run a nearly $12 million deficit by 2015.
If the levy does not pass, the board has already approved $1.45 million in cuts. Under that plan, nine teaching positions and 14 non-academic positions would be lost, along with busing for high school students and the annual graduation ceremony at Marietta College.
The final town hall meeting on the Marietta City School operating levy:
- 7 p.m. April 19, at Marietta College's McDonough Auditorium.
"This is driven by dollars and cents and the bottom line," Marietta Superintendent Bruce Thomas told the crowd Monday at the Marietta Township Recreation and Parks Building, the former Reno Elementary School. "We're not trying to build anything, we're just trying to pay utility bills, salaries, insurance and other costs."
Reno resident Jim Cline, 65, said supporting the levy would be easier if his property hadn't been reappraised this past year.
"My property taxes went up $600 last year and now you're asking me for another $300 to $400 based on my property?" Cline said. "We don't work anymore and our social security doesn't seem to be going up any. I don't see how I can (support the 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.
Thomas said he can appreciate these are hard times to be asking for help.
"These are tough, tough times and I understand that you have to be able to pay for your vote," he said. "Do what you can do. If you can, vote yes. If you can't, we understand. But this is the best opportunity for our kids."
Reno resident Julie Sawyer, 46, said she came to Monday's meeting to learn if advance placement classes would be affected if the levy fails. She has a sophomore at Marietta High School who is currently taking some of those classes.
Sawyer said she didn't get a clear answer on her question, which left her feeling a little uneasy.
"They said they would be in touch and let me know ... To me, those programs are important," she said. "I want to see those kinds of programs expanded, not cut."
Others in attendance expressed concerns about losing sports or other extra-curricular programs, which might lead families to enroll their children in other districts.
"No one wants to see that happen, but there are parents who want their children to have those opportunities and that experience," Thomas said.
Several in attendance questioned Thomas and the district's treasurer, Matt Reed, about busing costs. Some suggested better routes and the idea that buses shouldn't be used for smaller sports teams.
Thomas said busing costs would be examined, but that the potential savings would not be enough to eliminate the need for the levy.
The third and final town hall meeting on the levy issue is slated for 7 p.m. April 19, at Marietta College's McDonough Auditorium.