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Athens Approves New School Levy

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Issue 20 faced Athens voters as they contemplated the future of their kids’ education in Athens City Schools during the previous election.

On Nov. 6, the voters of Athens had their voices heard when they resoundingly voted to approve a levy that will now account for 13 percent of the district’s operating budget. The levy is a five-year renewal of the current levy. The original levy was passed in 2004, and renewed in 2008. $500,000 was added on to this levy to account for numerous expenses. The levy passed 65.27 percent compared to 34.73 percent for those opposed to it.

This levy will mainly be for maintenance to uphold the district’s current operations. The money will allow for payment of utility bills, staff payments, building budgets, insurance and materials.

According to the district’s website, the school board has taken steps to control expenses and spending. The school has tried to control spending in certain areas and take steps like: “self-help natural gas and electricity purchasing program; updated energy efficient lighting and equipment; installed web based energy monitors and equipment controls as each building; initiated programs to reduce worker’s compensation claims and increase staff wellness; initiated site based budgeting; initiated a partial self-funded, minimum premium, employee insurance program; instituted early retirement incentive programs; consistent monitoring of staffing levels to meet new state and federal mandates for efficiency; combined elementary schools and reduced the number of teaching and non-teaching staff; reworked school bus stops and routes for more time and fuel efficiency.”

These and other measures were expected to help save the school nearly $1,500,000.

The state of Ohio has been cutting $1,800,000 each year off the budget, and with this levy supported by the taxpayers, the district can now afford to maintain many of the things it made a priority.

Chauncey Elementary school, located in The Plains, was one of five Athens elementary schools, but it closed down this year seemingly because of the decreased state funding. The renewed levy will correct some of the financial woes the district has incurred.

Superintendent Carl Martin was content that the district can now afford to move forward with a new budget.

“Our major emphasis is getting our budget in order after having some of our funding cut by the state,” Martin said.

Martin also made note of the fact that those within the school system, students, teachers and administrators alike seem to be pleased with the show of support from the community. It seems like a vote of confidence from Athens voters that they are willing to approve a levy for the sake of public education.

The effects of the levy will begin in the 2013 calendar year.

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