School Levy Plan Restrained

Shadyside school officials are well aware that while they are having trouble making ends meet, things are tough all over. Many taxpayers in the district are having their own challenges paying the bills.

Still, the school system needs help, so voters will be asked Nov. 5 to approve an emergency operating levy.

As school Superintendent John Haswell explained, closure of the R.E. Burger power plant in 2010 hit the Shadyside Local School District hard. About $733,000 a year in revenue from the plant property no longer is available.

In the meantime, expenses have gone up.

Officials are doing what they can to contain the problem. During the past year, 7.5 staff positions were not filled when they became open, in an attempt to hold down spending.

More cuts are ahead, Haswell warned. Some programs may have to be eliminated.

In discussing the proposed levy, school board members agreed to hold their request to the absolute minimum they believe is needed.

With that in mind, the proposal is for a 4.61-mill property tax levy to raise about $365,000 a year. It is no coincidence the amount is almost precisely half the revenue lost when the Burger plant closed.

Voters are being asked only “to meet us halfway,” Haswell explained.

Of course, no one likes higher taxes. But no one likes to see important programs cut in public schools, either.

It may be an uphill battle to convince Shadyside voters to approve the levy, especially in view of the economic uncertainties so many face in their own lives. But school officials seem to be doing the right thing, and that should pay off on election day.