United Local voters will see improvement levy in May

HANOVERTON – The United Local school board Wednesday night agreed to seek a 3-mill continuous permanent improvement levy on the May ballot.

The board approved a resolution authorizing Treasurer Kathy Davies to submit the issue to the Columbiana County Auditor’s Office to determine the amount to be generated by the levy, which is estimated at $375,000 annually. The funds generated by the levy would be used for repairs, renovations and maintenance of the K-12 campus.

The district currently has a five-year permanent improvement levy first passed in 1984 that expires in November. If the new levy passes in May, the board will likely let the old one expire, according to Superintendent Steve Viscounte.

According to board members, through discussions with residents during the two failed bond issue campaigns in 2011, the permanent improvement levy seemed to be the favorable alternative to a new school facility. They said residents seemed to prefer to see the current facility repaired rather than a new one built. But the fact remains that the money necessary to address serious issues is not available in the budget, thus the need for an increase in the permanent improvement, they said.

A second resolution will be needed before Feb. 6 to submit the issue to the board of elections.

In other news the board approved an amended salary schedule for administrative, supervisor and confidential employees effective July 1, 2012, through June 30, 2015, for the latter two and July 1, 2012, through July 31, 2015, for the former. The amended schedule corresponds with the teacher’s union contract, Viscounte said, and includes a $500 stipend for employees who do not receive step increases as well as an annual 2 percent longevity increase for employees with 13 to 20 years of experience. The board also approved the creation of a part-time payroll assistant position.

Additionally the board accepted an anonymous donation of $20,000 to the band for uniforms and granted permission to faculty member Betty Whiteleather to hold a Haunted Woods fund raiser the evenings of the last three weekends in October to benefit various school organizations.

Also at the meeting elementary principal Tina Hughes reported that the school is part of a consortium with Beaver Local and Leetonia attempting to secure an Early Literacy Reading Readiness Grant of $250,000 for the schools’ guided reading programs. The grant recipients will be announced on April 30.

Viscounte also recognized the school board for its hard work and commitment as part of School Board Recognition Month.

At its organizational meeting, the board re-elected John Zehentbauer as president and Mike Phillis as vice president and retained its meeting schedule of 7:30 p.m. the third Wednesday of each month.

The next regular board meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Feb. 20 in the high school library.