Niles School Board talking cuts, smaller levy on May ballot

Niles school leaders asked for a 9.25 mill levy in November and it was defeated by a wide margin -- 70 percent voted no

NILES SCHOOLS


NILES, Ohio (WKBN) – The Niles School District, which is in debt, needs help financially. Voters said no to a levy in November and on Tuesday night, the district began discussing placing a new emergency operating levy on the ballot in May.

The Niles School Board is considering a ten-year, 5.8 mill tax levy for this spring’s ballot. The new levy would generate $1.3 million.

The Ohio Department of Education is asking for a plan that shows Niles Schools operating in a positive balance for at least the next three school years.

“What they’re basically telling us is that if we don’t have three years of a positive balance, we will end up in fiscal watch,” Superintendent Ann Marie Thigpen said.

She said the district has a $340,000 deficit for the upcoming school year and it will continue to grow afterward.

The new levy’s millage is smaller than the one from last fall. It generates 700,000 fewer dollars.

The big difference is that seven jobs will be cut in the future, including four teachers and one administrator.

“Hopefully our taxpayers can understand, we’re trying to do what’s best for our kids,” Thigpen said.

The state put Niles Schools in fiscal watch from 2003 to 2016 and the district is currently in fiscal caution.

School leaders asked for a 9.25 mill levy in November and it was defeated by a wide margin — 70 percent voted no.

“We can’t go back out for the same amount. We’d love to but maybe if we were a little closer — 40 percent to 60 percent, 45 to 55 percent — but when our taxpayers tell us at 70 percent, ‘We don’t want to pass this levy,’ we have to listen to them,” Thigpen said.

Placing the school levy on May’s ballot will be on the board’s agenda at next week’s meeting and the board is expected to pass it.

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