by Kristin Casale

Reporter

Stow -- The Stow-Munroe Falls School District is another step closer to placing a levy on the May ballot following Monday's Board of Education meeting.

The Board unanimously passed a resolution asking the Summit County Auditor's Office to certify the new five-year operating levy so it can be submitted to the Summit County Board of Elections by the Feb. 22 deadline.

According to District Treasurer Ryan Ghizzoni, the levy would generate approximately an additional $3.9 million annually for the district's operating expenses for five years beginning in 2008.

He said the auditor's office will determine the number of mills for the levy. After that amount is set, Ghizzoni said, the district can calculate the annual cost of the levy for the owner of a $100,000 home.

Once the auditor's office certifies the levy, the Board must pass a resolution allowing Ghizzoni to submit the proposed tax to the Board of Elections so the item can be placed on the May ballot.

Ghizzoni said he expects the Board to vote on that resolution during its Feb. 12 meeting, stating the levy should be certified by the auditor's office before the meeting.

The district's last bid for a levy failed in November, when voters declined to pass a half-percent income tax increase for the schools.

Ghizzoni said the district must return to the ballot, stating a decrease in state funding has put the district in a precarious financial situation.

The district received approximately $15.037 million in state aid for the 2006-07 school year, he said. Ghizzoni projects the district will receive approximately $14.978 million in state funding for the 2007-08 school year and approximately $14.89 million in state for the 2008-09 school year.

He said school officials cannot afford to wait before asking voters for additional revenue, because the amount needed from voters in the future would increase as the district's expenses increase.

"The administration and the Board have developed a school program that is extremely beneficial to the community and the students, and in order to continue to offer that, we have to ask the community for help," said Ghizzoni. "We feel now is the best time [to ask for a levy] because we can keep the millage low."

Board President John Pribonic agreed.

"We definitely do need the money, but we are trying to operate as frugally as possible," he said.

The Board's Feb. 12 meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. in the Stow-Munroe Falls High School, located at 3227 E. Graham Road.

E-mail: kcasale@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-686-3917