Tecumseh looks to August ballot

As voters decide the fate of Tecumseh schools ninth attempt at passing a new operating levy since 2004 at the ballot box Tuesday, board members will be voting to place an identical levy on the August ballot.

The Tecumseh Local Schools Board of Education will meet in special session Tuesday — Election Day — to vote on the second of two resolutions needed to put a tax issue before voters Aug. 8. Board members voted 4-0 earlier this week to start the process; board member Gary Cochran was absent.

For the August ballot, issues have to be turned in to the board of elections by 4 p.m. Wednesday.

“We have to have it started before the May 7 election,” Superintendent Brad Martin said.

If the May issue passes, the board would likely decide to withdraw the August issue, said Martin. Board President Mert Christmann didn’t return a call seeking comment.

Tecumseh is the second local board to begin action on an August levy in case their May 7 issue fails. Clark-Shawnee board members will meet Wednesday to finalize an August issue if its operating levy fails.

“You’ve got to make a decision prior to knowing the results of your first (election), which is tough,” Martin said.

If either the May or August issue passes, the board would be able to reverse $500,000 in planned budget cuts, including increasing pay-to-play fees, cutting busing at the high school and reducing the teaching staff by 5 percent.

The issue will be identical to the one voters will decide on Tuesday: a five year, 12.37-mill levy for operating expenses. It would generate $3.5 million a year for the district.

If approved, the levy would cost $378.83 a year for the owner of a $100,000 home.

Tecumseh’s financial projections show a $1.7 million deficit in the 2013-14 school year. If the district doesn’t eliminate the spending gap by either increasing revenues or decreasing expenditures, it faces state takeover, according to Martin.

“We are trying to prevent state takeover and the possibility of losing programs that are near and dear to our community,” Martin has previously said. “Once we lose these programs, the odds of us being able to bring them back are very slim.”

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