District seeks emergency levy

WOODSFIELD Teachers, principals and concerned parents gathered at the Swiss Hills Career Center Monday night in Woodsfield to listen to Switzerland of Ohio Local School District Superintendent Larry Elliott and Treasurer Lance Erlwein discuss the upcoming emergency levy district that voters are facing.

They discussed the need for the levy and the repercussions should it fail to pass neither painted a promising picture.

The district has already implemented Phase I of its budget cuts, eliminating a maintenance position, a central office position and a principal’s position at Beallsville Elementary School.

That was just the beginning.

The use of Phases II and III were approved during the monthly Switzerland of Ohio school board meeting.

Neither will go into effect should the levy pass. However, should it not, both go into effect at the beginning of the 2013-14 school year.

Phase II, which was also approved at the July 26 regular board meeting would result in the elimination of all elementary physical education teaching positions, music teaching positions, home economics/consumer science positions and elementary/ high school shop positions.

Phase III is the board planning for the worst if the levy is not passed and the district cannot generate new money.

Phase III would include the closing of the River High School bus garage and eliminate one bus mechanic position and eliminate six ESC teaching aide positions.

The district would reorganize, including the elimination of 23 certified positions. Also in this phase, all athletic programs must be able to financially support themselves.

“We didn’t get any new money from the (state) government,” Elliott said. “Phase I was not enough. We are tasked with living within our budget. If we are not successful with this levy, more cuts will come which will be devastating to our students and staff.”

Schools will be forced to operate on shoestring budgets, offering just the bare minimum to students, far less than currently offered. Extracurricular activities, after-school programs and the like will likely face severe cutbacks, if not elimination.

“These cuts will affect more than just the schools,” Erlwein said. “They will affect the communities as well.”

The levy will look to generate roughly $2.5 million during the five-year period the emergency levy would be in place. Elliott stressed it will not be used toward the building projects. That is a separate fund and all new buildings are bought and paid for already.

It will, however, go toward three key areas: transportation, student resource officers and keeping teachers on staff.

Areas earmarked to receive funding should the levy pass include:

  • $80,000 for bus replacement.
  • $110,000 to have a school resource officer on every campus within the district.
  • $375 for elementary physical education teachers at each school.
  • $310,000 for elementary school music teachers
  • $200,000 for home economics and consumer science teachers.
  • $138,000 for high school French teachers.
  • $140,00 for high school shop teachers
  • $1,247,000 for 23 district-wide elementary and high school teacher positions.

In speaking of transportation, Elliott stated Switzerland is a very expensive district to operate as the entire fleet logs more than 1,000 miles daily. Transportation costs take up 10 percent of the district’s budget. The amount of miles logged necessitates around four to five buses be replaced every year. That’s currently not happening. Should the levy pas, Elliott noted one bus could be replaced yearly.

Van Dyne may be reached at kvandyne@timesleaderonline.com.