A 7.9 mill Akron Public Schools levy is headed for the November ballot.
At Monday night's meeting, Akron school board members considered four possible levy requests: 7.8 mills, 7.9 mills, 8.5 mills and 10.85 mills, with figures provided by Akron district treasurer Jack Pierson on the amount raised, and the cost per household.
After much discussion, board members decided that a 7.9 mill levy was the best balance between the district's needs, and the public's willingness to vote for a levy request to support school finances.
"We wanted to be able to find a millage amount that we believe the community is going to support, that the community will rally behind and pass," Akron school board president Jason Haas tells AkronNewsNow.com, "that would help mitigate the overall value of the reductions that we're going to have to make."
A number of board members thought "the Walmart factor" of a 7.9 mill request - with the levy being just under 8 mills, like pricing in stores and at gas stations - will help the possibility of approval this November.
Voters narrowly rejected a 5.5 mill levy last November, and were heading for a 5.9 mill levy request in March before pulling it for reconsideration.
The 10.85 mill proposal was listed because it would bring in enough money to forestall more budget cuts through 2016. But board members agreed it was a non-starter as far as possible voter approval.
Haas says a combination of lower property values, and a year without collecting money from a new levy, mean the issue in November has to be larger.
"Part of what we had to do was to make up for that lost time," Haas tells AkronNewsNow.com, "because deficits don't...they don't wait."
Haas and other board members, and superintendent David James, warned of "drastic and severe" cuts next year if no levy is approved...likely in the same ballpark of the over $22 million in cuts the district has already made that take hold this coming school year.
"We've made all the cuts where we've plucked off the pretty feathers," Haas says. "There's not much left. We're down to the point where we're talking about peeling skin back in down to the bone. It's ugly."
A 7.9 mill levy, according to figures provided by Akron treasurer Pierson, would bring in $19,280,645, with the owner of a $74,000 home paying $181 a year, or $15.07 a month.
The district will hold a special meeting required by state law on Wednesday morning, to officially nail down the financial considerations around the levy request, and to send it to the Summit County Board of Elections for placement on the November ballot.
In other actions at Monday night's meeting, the board approved the district's participation in a federal pilot program that will fund free meals for all K-12 students for the 2012-2013 school year.
The program could be extended in future years. Ohio is one of four states that participate in the federal program...which uses federal money to reimburse Akron for the meals.