Community meeting

A community meeting shares stories and answers questions about the Chippewa Royalty

DOYLESTOWN – “Hazel Harvey is disintegrating before my eyes,” said a community member who has worked at Hazel Harvey Elementary School for 26 years. “The other day in the kitchen, we’re going out to the buses, and a piece of the roof was hanging off so we immediately took it to our principal.”

Community members, students, teachers and parents shared similar stories and highlighted the positive experiences they had in the local Chippewa School District during a swab briefing Thursday night . The meeting was organized by the Chippewa Levy Committee which aims to educate people on the two samples coming up on the May ballot and I hope to help get them through.

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John Mertic, chair of the fees committee and parent of four Chippewa students, said there are two fees: a renewal fee and a new permanent improvement fee.

The 1% income tax renewal fee is based on each person’s earned income and is earmarked for general operations, Mertic said.

“The easiest way to think about it is probably if you don’t pay it now, you won’t pay it if it passes,” Mertic said. “If you pay it now, you’re going to pay and it’s going to be exactly the same. There’s no net change.

District Treasurer Ira Hamman said the levy is already being used to cover about 14-15 percent, or about $2.2 million, of the district’s annual budget.

The second levy is a permanent improvement levy of 0.5 million that would not be used for general things like staffing and the program, but rather for things like “fixing the roof, putting in new windows, buying a new tractor,” Mertic said.

Based on property taxes, Mertic said the tax would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $17.50 a year. After the meeting, Hamman said he would bring an average of $140,000 a year to the district and would stay around that same amount for years.

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Panelists share stories and personal experiences in the local Chippewa School District

Mertic invited a panel of four community members to share stories about the impact the district has had on their lives and what they think the levies would do for schools.

Brittany Bunch, a third-grade intervention specialist at Chippewa Middle School and a 2006 Chippewa High School graduate, said schools are “the cornerstone of our community” and she’s seen how the School funding has offered programs like the summer reading program for struggling readers.

Panelists for the Chippewa Levy briefing were (left to right) Robbie Castello, Former Class of 2020;  Caleb Sommers, senior;  Paige Schafrath, parent and 2009 Chippewa graduate;  and Brittany Bunch, third-year intervention specialist at Chippewa Middle School and Chippewa graduate.  With moderator John Mertic, committee chair Chippewa Levy.

Recent grad Robbie Castello and senior Caleb Sommers shared how things like AP classes and extracurricular activities have helped shape their educational experiences and could go on to change the lives of future students.

“The thing I kept in mind with these swabs is, if it hasn’t already affected the kids who are currently in the system. It’s going to help them generations later,” Castello said. “I remember my dad went to that school and being in the same building is amazing to me.”

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Paige Schafrath graduated from Chippewa High School in 2009 and said she remembered the old high school building and had to walk through the college parking lot for lunch. With three daughters attending the schools, she is happy to see that the buildings have changed.

“We succeeded,” Schafrath said. “We have great buildings now and continue to do so for years to come for future generations to walk through these hallways.”

Nexus pipeline and other community questions answered by the committee

Chippewa Schools, like many other schools in Ohio, got involved in the Nexus pipeline that promised them about $34 million over the next 30 years, Mertic said. After recent litigation and discussions at the Ohio Department of TaxationNexus appealed to reduce that amount to approximately $14 million.

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Mertic said the current changes “are out of the district’s hands,” but because they planned to use the money for strategic planning, such as future updates and growth, they tried to scale back some projects.

The district may be able to get some cash soon, Mertic said, because of the purchase contract he recently entered for the former college property, but Mertic said the money would be a “one-time thing” while a levy would provide more over time.

“Levies are a thing every year,” Mertic said. “You can plan ahead, and you can think ahead of where most of that funding is coming from, and you can plan ahead for needs over time.”

Contact Rachel Karas at [email protected]

On Twitter: @RachelKaras3