VINCENT -At its first meeting of the year, the Warren Board of Education unanimously decided to proceed with a 10-year emergency levy renewal that the district has had for almost 20 years.
The board has until Feb 5. file to put the levy on the ballot, and since this was its only meeting prior to the deadline, all five members decided to proceed. Once the board of elections receives certification of the levy, it will officially be put on the ballot for the May 6 election.
The emergency levy, unlike a regular levy, is assigned a specific dollar amount. The $1,755,600 amount was chosen in 1995 and has been renewed in five-year increments ever since. What the board wants to stress to taxpayers for the district is that they will end up paying less than they did in 1995.
According to board records, the levy as originally introduced at 9 mills and is now down to 5.54 mills.
"The amounts it would take to cover that now have gone down, so you as a homeowner, if your house was worth $100,000 in 1995, you will spend less on that tax now if your house is worth $100,000," said Warren Superintendent Kyle Newton. "Our taxpayers will even spend less than what they spent last year."
This is the first time this specific renewal could go on the ballot, so administrators decided to be proactive. Members plan on educating voters on changes so they can be fully-knowledgeable going in.
Warren Board of Education
New President: Debbie West
New Vice President: Bob Allen
Emergency Renewal Levy for 2015: approved to go to vote in May
New board member: Willie Holbert (left board in 2009)
There has been some expressed doubt over the idea of a 10-year levy. In mid-December, board member John Nichols was quoted in a previous Marietta Times article with the concern that voters might not approve other levies in there is one in place for 10 year, saying, "In five years, if we have a situation where we're in need of new funding, it's going to be harder."
The decision to go ahead with a 10-year renewal came from some key advantages.
"This was the first time we were able to take an emergency levy and go for a renewal for 10 years instead of five. We know that we've been using this money...since 1995, so we know we need this money, that hasn't changed," Newton said. He also goes on to note that taxpayers have supporters this levy and are comfortable with the dollar amount.
"Historically it's been used to do things from paying for supplies, to textbooks, to utilities, operational type issues," Newton said.
In addition to the levy proceedings, the whole board approved the appointment of Debbie West as board president and Bob Allen as vice president.
Willie Holbert, who served as a board member for 11 years and stepped down in 2009, was re-elected in November and joined other board members.
Toward the beginning of the meeting when the public is given the chance to speak, another concerned citizen came forward with frustrations regarding Common Core, a federal initiative that set standards for K-12 with expectation of what each student should be taught in schools.
"This is a grab for control of our local schools districts by the federal government," said Victor Smith, a Waterford resident. We as parents and grandparents want you to know that we support you in blocking it."
The board will hold its regular meetings on the third Monday of each month at 6:30 p.m. The next regular meeting, because of the President's Day holiday, will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 18.