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Clark-Shawnee tries levy again

District voters have twice rejected issue this year.High school busing will be cut in January if November issue fails.

Clark-Shawnee Local Schools will ask voters for the third time this year for an additional property tax for operating expenses.

The district is seeking an additional 7.59 mills on the Nov. 5 ballot. If approved, the 10-year levy would generate more than $2.4 million annually and cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $265 a year.

Superintendent Gregg Morris said the district needs the funds as a result of losing nearly $2 million in state funding in the last three years.

Morris said the district has cut 26 semester course offerings for high school students. Officials also closed Kindergarten Village, cut 30 percent from its tutoring budget, eliminated one bus route, cut 15 teaching positions, 1.5 administrative jobs and six classified staff members.

The cuts total $5.4 million in reductions during that time, he said.

“We don’t have any more teaching positions to cut without crippling our core courses,” Morris said.

A Facebook post by the Springfield News-Sun seeking comments about the levy received dozens of responses from supporters and residents who are against it.

Some said the levy is absolutely necessary to prevent additional cuts and to maintain academic achievements, while others complained the district needs to better manage money.

“The district is and has been very responsible with our money. The state cuts in funding has caused CSLS to make cuts that are going to take a toll on the ability to maintain the district’s great academic standing,” Gus Lippolis said.

Desiree Daniels, who has two sons who attend schools in the district, said the levy must pass.

“I feel that passing the levy would be such a great thing for our kids and our schools. My seventh-grade son would really benefit from the passage of the levy. He is struggling in school, but due to past levy failures, there are no longer tutors available to help him,” Daniels wrote.

“Without tutors and teachers to help our students, we can’t expect them to do well in school. We need this levy to pass in order to restore our schools funding so that these people are available to help our children.”

Tim Dugan Sr. said he is against the levy.

“When we bought our house in 1975, we paid a premium for the best school district in the county, and we wanted our kids in this district. Open enrollment helped my property value decrease because anyone can come into the district regardless (of) where they live. And now you want to tax me more,” Dugan wrote.

A couple responders questioned district spending and budgeting.

If the levy fails in November, the district will face a $345,000 deficit and is expected to eliminate busing for Shawnee High School students in January. Pay-to-participate fees would increase 10 percent immediately.

Pay-to-participate fees at the high school would jump from $200 to $220; middle schools fees would increase from $100 to $110.

For three straight years, the district earned an ‘Excellent with Distinction’ rating on the state report card and Clark County’s highest performance index score.

The district ranked 31st of 824 public, charter and STEM schools for student academic growth rates, placing Clark-Shawnee in the top four percent.

“We’ve heard the community. We knew that times were difficult three years ago when we started talking about our financial needs. We heard them, and we’ve made substantial cuts. But now that we have made the cuts, we have no place to go without major damage,” Morris said.

“We’re struggling now. I’m fearful we’re not going to see the same type of academic progress that we’ve seen.”

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