Franklin Schools moves toward emergency tax levy

Board members Monday approved a resolution to begin the two-step process to place the issue on the ballot. The board has scheduled a special meeting for 5 p.m. Feb. 3 at the Hampton Bennett Building, 150 E. Sixth St., to approve a resolution to proceed to forward the question to the Warren County Board of Elections.

If approved, the levy would generate about $3.11 million annually, which is the equivalent of 7.92 mills. If approved, it would avert a budget deficit starting in fiscal year 2016 and with a five-year sunset, it will allow voters to hold the board accountable should they not follow through as promised.

Voters rejected a continuing, five-year 7.92-mill operating levy last November.

Board President Chris Sizemore said the board has spent a lot of time determining possible cuts if the levy is not approved.

Should the levy fail, nine teaching positions will be eliminated and the district will no longer have neighborhood elementary schools as it would have to transition to grade-level clusters in each building.

In addition, the district’s pay to play fees will be increased to $200 per sport with a cap of $500 per student per year.

“If the levy doesn’t pass, this is the direction we have to go in to meet our obligations,” Sizemore said.

About 50 people attended Monday’s meeting where the board passed out what would be cut if the levy should fail.

“At the last meeting we listened to what the people had to say,” said Board Member Bob Knipper. “We worked hard to come up with lists (of possible cuts). Now people know how this is going to happen. We really worked hard and no cuts are easy.”

Board Member Lori Raleigh said communication will be a key focus as the process moves forward.

Raleigh said the district will be rolling out a new website next week to provide voters with information in a timely manner.

“I hope we can work together and make this levy happen,” she said.

While the board shared the budget cuts and other information, some parents, who are pro-levy, said the board needs to get out as much information as possible to educate district voters.

Leslie O’Hara, who attended Hunter Elementary when she was in school, has two children going to school there as well.

“I don’t believe it will pass unless they share candid financial information with the taxpayers,” she said. “They need to make sure people are getting all of the information…. tell the taxpayers what this will get them (if the levy passes). We need to focus on getting information to the taxpayers… We need to get them to come to meetings to educate them.”

O’Hara said voters need to know about the district’s big push for new technology and understand what they are planning to do. She also said about one-third of the parents in the district are registered voters and need to get registered.

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