NORTH CANTON  During a meeting on Jan. 18, the North Canton Board of Education approved sending a proposed 6.9-mill property tax levy to voters on the May 8 ballot.

If passed, the 6.9-mill levy will cost homeowners with a $100,000 home $242 annually. The levy will produce $4.98 million a year and will be available to the district starting in 2019.

"This is the last step we need to take to put the levy on the ballot for voters," Superintendent Jeff Wendorf said. "This is a request for a 6.9-mill continuous levy to cover current operating expenses. We believe it is the appropriate amount to ask for and we’re confident it will get us through our 2023 budget. We know we asked for a lot in the fall, but we felt it was needed for the facilities updates."

Wendorf added that the district has been listening to residents and community groups since the defeat of issue 44 in November. He said the 6.9-mill levy request is the result of information gathered by an Independent Financial Advisory Committee recently formed to provide the district with input.

The committee came up with the following recommendations: The district should place a property tax for under 7 mills on a future ballot. The committee also recommended postponing the facilities project.

The district cut $300,000 from its building budgets and expenditures for the 2017-18 school year. In addition to those cuts, the district is planning on $1 million in cuts for the 2018-19 school year. If the proposed levy doesn’t pass, the district will have to make $2 million in reductions.

Wendorf said at a previous meeting, the district will look at four areas for reductions including athletics, where the implementation of pay-to-participate and reducing travel costs will be considered. The board will also consider cuts in transportation and end busing for grades 9-12 and extending the non-busing zone for grades K-5. They will also look at using cluster stops versus curb stops.

The district will have to evaluate and review every program in the district to determine where reductions can be made. Lastly, a reduction in staff will be considered. Wendorf said the district will try to reduce staff through attrition as opposed to layoffs.

Wendorf said the district has already identified approximately $275,000 in staffing cuts for the 2018-19 school year. He indicated classroom personnel likely will not be a part of those cuts.

He also mentioned the district is looking for volunteers to help with the levy campaign. Those interested can call Wendorf at the district’s administration office.

OTHER ACTIONS:

- Recognized the board in honor of January being Board Member Recognition Month. Wendorf thanked the board members for their hard work and commitment.

- Approved a list of coaches for spring and fall 2018 sports programs including varsity head coaches for boy’s and girl’s cross country, football, golf, soccer, tennis and volleyball.

- Approved an out-of-state trip for up to 10 middle and high school staff members to attend training WEB (Where Everyone Belongs) and Link Crew in Plymouth, Mich., with no cost to the board.

- Approved an overnight trip for Tom Wilson, video production teacher; and Dennis Wackerly, broadcast journalism teacher; and 12 students to participate in the Ohio Education Technology Conference in Columbus with the only cost to the board is for a substitute teacher.

- Heard from Assistant Superintendent David Pilati that the Ohio Department of Education has a $35 million competitive literacy grant available for Ohio school districts and Educational Service Centers. Pilati said the district is meeting to determine if it should apply for a grant on its own or work collaboratively with other districts and/or the Stark County Educational Service Center to apply. The district sent representatives to Columbus to learn more about the grant which will be awarded at the end of May in one to three-year amounts to the applicants who qualify.

- Went into executive session for the purpose of pending or imminent court action with action taken.

UP NEXT: Meets 6:00 p.m. Feb. 21 in the media room at Hoover High School.