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The Press Newspaper

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Voters on May 7 will be asked to renew a 2-mill, five year permanent improvement levy for the Oregon City Schools District.

The Oregon school board at a special meeting Tuesday unanimously voted to place the levy on the ballot.

The district’s current permanent improvement levy will expire at the end of this year.

The levy is expected to collect $1,018,277 annually from 2014 to 2018.

The revenue would be used to fund improvements in the district, such as major building repairs, technology upgrades, and the purchase of buses. It would not go towards salaries or operations.

“Essentially, it’s to keep the buildings in good working shape and condition,” said school board member Jeff Ziviski.

Passage of the levy will also allow the district to continue to collect $128,500 per year from the state of Ohio for the replacement of the tangible personal property tax, according to Ziviski.

Revenue from the current levy has been used to make the district operate more efficiently, added Ziviski.

“More recently, we focused our efforts on finding projects in the district that will benefit us more long term and also bring back some cost savings for the district, such as the $300,000 natural gas line extension to Jerusalem Elementary School,” said Ziviski. “It’s more cost effective, it saves us money, and more residents are tapping into the line, which benefits the community. Those are the kind of projects we’re looking to spend money on with the renewal of the levy – to enhance the district and community, and save us dollars in the long run.”

The board also wants to improve security in the school buildings, said Ziviski.

“We have a strong focus on school security and want to beef up security measures we have in place at each of the schools. We have enacted a building security/safety committee with all the building principals and the rest of the administration. They’ve been brainstorming ways to improve the security of our schools and to ensure our students are safe as they can be without making it into a prison like atmosphere. So we’re going to reinvest the money in each of the schools to make them safer.”

Among the safety proposals under consideration, he said, is the installation of a power backup system in the buildings.

“We’re looking at making sure we not only have electrical power backed up at the schools, but the PA systems are `battery backed up’ so we always have lines of communication open. We’re installing additional PA speakers in areas of schools where there aren’t any now,” he said.

“We’re also looking at installing panic buttons, like at banks, that are connected to the police station, at each of the schools,” he said. “Then if the phone lines are ever cut, there is that direct connection with the police department. With everything going on in society, these are the precautions we have to take.”

Also on the list are improvements in each of the schools’ surveillance cameras, which are connected to the police department, he said.

Besides beefing up security, the funds will also be used to improve technology in the district, he added.

“Part of that is switching from the traditional textbook in the backpack to issuing students an iPad uploaded with electronic textbooks,” he said.

The levy would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $61 annually.

Ziviski said costs to renew the levy in most cases would be even lower than what homeowners currently pay due to revaluations of property.

Voters originally passed the levy on May 2, 1967. It has been renewed continually since that date. 

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