Salem school district voters asked to renew improvement levy

SALEM – Salem school district voters being asked to renew a 2-mill permanent improvement levy need only look to the school rooftops, parking lots, buses and classrooms to see where their money goes.

“We’re very fiscally responsible with our money and keeping our old buildings up to date,” board member Steve Bailey said.

Bailey leads the buildings and grounds committee for the school board and said the levy is the means for caring for those buildings, improving student access to technology, replacing buses and keeping students safe.

“We just try to do the best we can with what we’ve got. We spend the money wisely,” he said.

The five-year levy first came on in 1983 and was last renewed by voters in 2008, with a five-year renewal being sought again. Since it’s a renewal, the levy won’t cost taxpayers any more than what they’re already paying.

District Treasurer Jim Wilson said the levy will generate an estimated $298,100 per year, according to the amount certified by the Columbiana County Auditor’s Office. The levy previously generated an estimated $320,900 per year.

The permanent improvement levy can only be spent on permanent improvements, whether that means increasing the wireless capability in classrooms and purchasing iPads for students to use for their lessons, or painting classroom walls and resurfacing the track at Reilly Stadium.

Besides the money from the 2-mill levy, the district relies on 1-mill of continuous inside millage and a portion of the homestead and the rollback on property tax bills for permanent improvement expenses. They’ve also used grants. Wilson said the district spent more than $800,000 on permanent improvements last year.

During a recent board meeting, 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. He said they pledged to refurbish what they had and that’s what they’ve been doing.

Bailey said they’ve had the support of the district voters and they hope to continue to get their support to maintain the district buildings and grounds.