United school officials seek OK of levy for renovations, repairs

HANOVERTON- After failed attempts to pass a bond issue for a new school, the United school board and administration are asking residents to approve funding for renovations of the current facility.

District residents on Tuesday will be deciding on a 3-mill continuous permanent improvement levy that will generate $376,700 annually. If it passes, the board will ensure that the current permanent improvement levy will be ended so that residents are not paying on both at the same time, according to schools Superintendent Steve Viscounte and Treasurer Kathy Davies.

“The public said to renovate instead of rebuild and reflected that in their vote, so we’re looking to respond accordingly,” Viscounte said.

Davies said the board will take action to end collection on the current levy approved in 1984, valued at 1.3 mills and generating $178,000 annually.

“It’s not the intent, to collect on both,” she said.

According to Davies, monies generated by a permanent improvement levy can only be used for capital improvement projects that extend the life of an item by five years, such as boilers, windows and roofs. Other items the levy can fund include text books, buses, parking and lighting. In the past, the permanent improvement levy has funded the junior high science lab, the elementary addition, a land purchase and the school’s phone system.

But Viscounte said safety will be the key focus of the new money.

He cited plans for security gating throughout the campus for after school hours when there is no supervisor and the school is open to visitors. The gates will be able to be controlled from a remote location in case of a security breach.

“The building (currently) is pretty wide open to anybody,” he said.

He also noted installation of a door fob system for faculty and staff for the entire building. The system will record who is coming and going so that if there is an issue, the administration will know who was in the building at that time, he said.

Additionally he said exterior lighting behind the school needs addressed, the security camera system needs upgraded and the classrooms need improved.

“Especially in the elementary with the younger kids…windows in the school open in and are sharp along the bottom,” he said.

Ultimately, though, the permanent improvement levy will help save money at the school, he said, since items such as the boiler and lighting are a drain on the budget.

“There are items that just aren’t efficient, not in energy and not in cost,” he said.

Davies said the board chose to pursue a continuous levy because the district can take out a loan on the levy for longterm projects exceeding the amount generated by the levy, whereas it cannot do so on a renewable levy.

“It gives us a leeway to do bigger projects (like the roof) that we may not have the immediate money for,” she said.

According to the county auditor’s office, the levy will increase the taxes on a $100,000 home $91.88 annually and $7.66 monthly.

For information about the levy and its cost to homeowners visit the school’s website, www.united.k12.oh.us.

Kevin Howell can be reached at khowell@salemnews.net