Pettisville school levy earmarked for books, technology

By David J. Coehrs - [email protected]

Pettisville Local Schools Superintendent Josh Clark said district administrators heard the community loud and clear when a proposed permanent improvement levy was soundly defeated in March of 2020.

A new permanent improvement levy on the Nov. 6 ballot wouldn’t be used for new facilities. Rather, most of the money will go directly to the classrooms.

The school district will ask voters to approve a five-year, 2.5-mill levy that will generate approximately $158,000 annually. Clark said, other than using some the funds for parking lot repairs and to upgrade some outdated building systems, the remainder will purchase new textbooks – to replace some from 27 years ago – and new technology for students. Former Interim Superintendent Ken Boyer estimated in July a cost of $50,000-$70,000 to replace math and history books alone.

A homeowner with a $100,000 home will pay an additional $87.50 per year to support the permanent improvement levy.

“In order to keep offering the students of Pettisville the best academic experience possible, we need to update our curriculum and give teachers the necessary tools to keep our students engaged and competitive in an ever-changing world,” Clark said. “Ideally, we would get on a curriculum cycle that would allow us to update and evaluate curricular needs cyclically. We will also need to take a look at our parking lots and steps, and at some of our building operational needs right away.”

That will include the necessary purchase of a shell for an outdoor freezer unit.

Clark said while Pettisville schools are fully 1:1 Chromebook functional – or one device for every student – “We need to be able to keep our current replacement cycle – 500 devices with a five-year life cycle – in place to allow for the continuation of the initiative.” He said the district also needs to continue the staff laptop replacement life cycle.

“We have purchased Clevertouch interactive teaching board devices using (other) dollars, and we will need to be cognizant of the maintenance and replacement costs. We will also be looking at digital curriculum,” he said. The levy will permit the district to maintain repairs of Chromebooks and replace older models.

It will also allow plans for contingencies, such as a potential need for new school buses and for building maintenance and upkeep.

School Board President Brent Hoylman said previously it’s “vitally important to keep all items up to date.” He said the school would purchase textbooks and digital platforms would be added to the curriculum. “And therefore, we have to have up-to-date technology in order to handle that,” Hoylman said.

The school district already held one informational meeting about the levy, and plans to hold two more, on Oct. 18 at Tedrow Mennonite Church and on Oct. 28 at the school complex.

“Since we have listened to the taxpayers and took out aspects they did not like, such as the building of new facilities, I feel it stands a strong chance at passing,” Clark said of the levy.

Should it fail, the school district will be forced to continue teaching using outdated curriculum and try to maintain the district’s operational services in dire need of attention, he said.

“If it fails, our facilities won’t be able to be maintained at the high level our community is accustomed to,” Clark added.

By David J. Coehrs

[email protected]

Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-4010.

Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-4010.