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The Suburbanite
  • Coventry seeking levy renewal

  • Coventry Local Schools is asking residents to vote “yes” for Issue 70, a five-year 9.96-mill emergency renewal levy on the ballot Nov. 6.

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  • Coventry Local Schools is asking residents to vote “yes” for Issue 70, a five-year 9.96-mill emergency renewal levy on the ballot Nov. 6.
    The levy, originally passed in 2003, was renewed once in 2008, but will expire next year. According to Superintendent Russell Chaboudy, the levy brings approximately $2.8 million into the schools each year. Unlike the failed bond issue the district had on the ballot in August, this levy is not a new tax, and asks for funds to maintain the current level of finances.
    That bond issue was meant to return funding to an improvement budget that would be set aside to help the district maintain buildings. Chaboudy said the renewal levy for that fund failed in 1999, and so the district has been forced to stretch other funding to compensate for the loss.
    The school system has been actively trying to downsize by way of schools. Chaboudy said only about 20 percent of people who live in Coventry have kids in the school system, and that number has been steadily declining. School officials believe that the low number of people with school-aged children in the district, combined with the state of the economy, is to blame for Coventry’s history of struggling to pass levies.
    “Still, your public schools play a role in the quality of your community,” Chaboudy said. “And we think that’s important.”
    The bond issue sought to consolidate the district’s buildings into the area around Cormany and Manchester Roads. Because of the failure of those building issues, the district has spent more money bussing students to schools farther away and compensating for dilapidated or too-small buildings by doing things such as implementing modular classrooms.
    The November levy is marked as an emergency levy because regardless of the state of the township’s economy, the schools will be able to collect a certain amount of funds each year.
    Still, Chaboudy said art, physical education, music, foreign languages, food services, bussing for high school students and sports will be in jeopardy if the levy fails.
    “We don’t want to go out there and threaten all these things if we don’t have to,” Chaboudy said. “But the reality is, if it goes down, we’re losing $14 million over five years, and something has to be cut.”
    Last year the district was forced to eliminate 23 teaching jobs and have had a pay-to-participate sports program in place since 2008. Despite that, the superintendent believes the schools will again receive an “excellent with distinction” rating by the state this year, but with so many of the schools’ programs on the chopping block, Chaboudy isn’t sure if the district will be able to maintain that rating.
    “Sooner or later, those cuts of teachers and programs begin to erode the programs,” Chaboudy said. “You can’t stay at the top academically when you continue to cut teachers. So this levy will help us to maintain, and not have to eliminate further programs and teachers.”
    Page 2 of 2 - For a resident who owns a $100,000 home, the levy is currently costing $25.42 per month, or about $305 a year. The cost is around $19.06 for people over age 65, roughly $229 per year.
    “I hope the community appreciates the quality of education that students are receiving in Coventry,” Chaboudy said. “And that they’re proud of our excellent distinction rating and that they will support our efforts to continue a quality education.”
    Levy supporters will be on hand to answer and questions and address any concerns each Monday until the election at 7 p.m. at Coventry Middle School, 3257 Cormany Road. Visit www.supportcoventry.com for more information.