Salem schools to seek improvement levy renewal

SALEM – Voters in the Salem school district will be asked to renew a 2-mill permanent improvement levy on the May 7 primary ballot, a decision officials said won’t cost taxpayers any more than what they’re already paying.

Board members agreed Thursday to place the levy renewal on the ballot. They had already voted at a special meeting earlier this month to have the amount for the levy certified.

The levy first came on in 1983 and was last renewed by voters in 2008 for a five-year period. The board is again seeking renewal for five years.

District Treasurer Jim Wilson said when the levy was last renewed, the amount to be generated per year was estimated at $320,900. If renewed this time around, the levy will generate an estimated $298,100 per year, according to the amount certified by the Columbiana County Auditor’s Office.

As the name implies, the permanent improvement levy is used for permanent improvements, such as purchasing buses or equipment or improving the buildings. Superintendent Tom Bratten said they used it in recent years to increase the district’s wireless capabilities in all the buildings and to help purchase iPads for students to use in the classrooms.

They’ve replaced boilers, replaced roofs, replaced buses which cost $90,000 each, redone parking lots and taken care of yearly improvements, such as painting rooms. They also used some of the money to replace the crumbled north wall at Reilly Stadium, a project which remains ongoing. The brick has been put in place and now they’re waiting for the ornamental fencing to be installed.

Board President Andrew Null said one of the goals the board set a few years ago after meeting with district residents was to continue to make improvements to buildings and facilities rather than try to get new buildings.

“We’re going to refurbish what we have,” he said.

The levy renewal was just one of the items approved by the board as part of the consent agenda. The board approved the hiring of Jennifer Carroll as the backup athletic trainer on an as-needed basis for home athletic events for the 2012/2013 school year at a rate of $50 per event. The board had already hired an athletic trainer last month and will only use Carroll if that trainer isn’t available for some reason.

In other personnel matters, the board hired Dennis Niederhiser as junior varsity baseball coach, hired Samantha Holisky as an intervention specialist at Reilly Elementary, hired Melinda Parke and Pat Sidinger as cafeteria workers at Reilly, approved family medical leave for Reilly teacher Rebecca Gallagher, approved classisfied substitutes Gudrun Colbert and Corey Cody and substitute teachers Rachel Russo and Karen Hunt, and accepted the resignation of Heather Smith as an office aide at the Hannah E. Mullins School of Practical Nursing.

At the beginning of the meeting, Bratten honored the board members and presented them with certificates and small glass tokens of appreciation engraved with their names. He said he appreciated the hours they put in, noting with all the committee work, they do more than just come to the board meeting once a month.

Mary Ann Greier can be reached at