Pettisville schools consider new levy

Also discuss lengthened days

By David J. Coehrs -

Pettisville Local Schools hope to count on voters next March to approve a new permanent improvements levy.

The school district is also looking at an altered schedule that would slightly lengthen the students’ day but shave time off the academic year.

A public hearing will be held at the Nov. 18 Board of Education meeting to discuss placing a proposed continuing permanent improvement levy on the March 2020 ballot. While millage for the new levy has not been determined, it would fall within the 3.0-4.0 mill range, according to Superintendent Steve Switzer. He said, as an example, a 3.5-mill levy would generate $230,000 annually and cost the owner of a $100,000 home approximately $125 a year.

The revenue would permit construction of concession stands and restrooms for the school district’s athletic fields, and improved access to the fields. It would also be used for campus maintenance and upkeep.

Additionally, some funding would be used to build a campus structure to shelter the district’s school buses, rather than continue storing them in a $200 per month rental space at Specialized Inspection Group on County Road 19. An aging bus barn on the campus was demolished nine years ago.

Switzer said the school district would issue “Tax Anticipation Notes” that borrow against half the levy money – about $1.13 million – for 10 years. Those proceeds would be used for the exterior improvements, for maintenance and upkeep, and to purchase buses and computer equipment. Once the 10-year loan is paid the district would have $130,000 in today’s dollars for continued maintenance and improvements.

Permanent improvement money can be used only for purchasing items with at least a five-year life. Using the funds for salaries or personnel needs is prohibited.

Switzer said the school district is “presenting a plan for something that is very good and needed.” He said the proposed levy would allow Pettisville schools to complete outdoor facilities on par with those of other area school districts.

The proposed levy will be discussed at a school board work session on Oct. 28 but no action will be taken until the November meeting.

“We’ve been very cautious of what we’ve asked for in the past, and they’ve been very supportive,” Switzer said of voters.

School board member Dan Bruner said the levy fills major needs in the district, and “will allow us to do good things for our students and community and continue be good stewards of our buildings by having the funds to maintain them.”

And though a plan has yet to be drafted, the school board will consider increasing the school day by 20 minutes, an additional 10 minutes at both the start and finish. The change would reduce the calendar year by an undetermined number of days.

The increased time would allow the high school to schedule more lab periods for students, and allow more intervention periods for the elementary school.

“These are just ideas right now,” Switzer said.

The current Pettisville school day begins at 8:20 a.m. and ends at 3:05 p.m.

Also discuss lengthened days

By David J. Coehrs

Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.

Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.