ZANESVILLE - After a
series of cuts that have affected the teaching and administration
staff, contentious negotiations, and other decisions to offset a
projected budget, voters were not ready to give the Zanesville City
Schools operating money.
The district's 6.9-mill emergency
operating levy was defeated Tuesday by an unofficial count of 1,246
for and 3,501 against.
"Obviously we're very disappointed, but the people have spoken,"
said Michael Pockl, superintendent.
He said it was disappointing that after making reductions in the
district's expenses to the tune of $6.5 million, that more cuts
would have to be made.
The levy would have raised approximately $2.7 million a year,
over five years. It would have cost a property owner with a $100,000
piece of property $211.31 a year. The average home in Zanesville is
$60,600, which meant it would cost the owner $128.06 a year or
$10.67 a month.
The district is already under a fiscal caution designation by the
state, meaning it had to submit a plan to the state on Tuesday to
show how it would offset a projected $1.9 million deficit in 2007.
The plan includes a series of cuts the district has already made.
Over the past two months, the school board has approved three
phases of cuts. The first involved the non renewal of eight
administrative positions, including the two middle school
principals. The second involved a reduction in force that resulted
in 18 teachers being cuts.
The most recent decisions were made at a school board meeting
last week, where the board agreed to cut back on its busing, raise
the pay to participate fees and looked at developing a plan to make
cuts to the supplemental contracts. The board's decision to cut
busing means students living less than a mile from school would not
be bused next year. The potential saving for the district could be
The pay to participate rates were raised in order to pay for
transportation costs associated with activities. Given the rising
gas prices, officials felt an increase was needed in order to cover
costs, which under the current rate were not be covered.
If the levy had passed, the money generated would have allowed
officials to take back some of these decisions.
District officials have looked at many areas over the past
several years to make cuts. Materials have been cut, personnel have
been cut either through attrition, non renewals or a reduction in
force. Pockl took an $11,000 pay cut in order to help offset costs.
But officials knew this levy would be a tough sell.
Last year, the district had a 7.9-mill levy on the ballot which
was defeated by a 2 to 1 margin. Because of that defeat, officials
decided not to go back to voters in 2005, but instead waited.
When the board voted to put this levy on the ballot, the district
was already in the midst of negotiations with the Zanesville
Education Association, which represents the districts teachers,
guidance counselors and other certified staff. Officials chose not
to run a high profile campaign has it had in 2005 in part because it
was in the middle of negotiations where strike notice had been
The board will now have to decide on its next course of action,
which could include putting another levy on the ballot later this
Pockl said given rising expenses to people's personal incomes he
can understand why people would not vote for a tax increase.
However, he said the district will go back to the voters.
"We cannot continue to operate the system without local revenue,"