There's no denying our communities have been facing tough economic times for several years.
Yes, we are on the precipice of a prosperous gas and oil industry, but until that time arrives, area leaders, business people and residents must find ways to bring about opportunities.
One way that is possible is by supporting area school district levies on Tuesday's ballot.
As our school districts continue to lose funding yearly from the state, students and teachers are faced with deteriorating buildings and more students in classrooms due to the closure of buildings because of financial constraints. It's a vicious cycle.
Our struggling school districts also have been faced with eliminating programs, reducing the number of employees and positions through attrition, limiting the purchase of supplies and materials and suspending the purchase of lab equipment.
Given all of those factors, we hope area residents with vote "yes" for the levies on Tuesday's ballot.
In the Buckeye Local School District, voters will see a 2.1-mill levy. It's a five-year emergency levy that would generate $630,000 annually for operating expenses for the district's three elementary buildings, as well as the junior/senior high school.
But Superintendent Mark Miller said this levy also is about safety for pupils and students.
The district is hoping to take a pro-active approach to safety; upgrades are planned with students' safety in mind, and that's smart given recently violent events. Resource officers would be stationed at each building, and upgrades would include doors, lighting parent holding areas, additional cameras, a secured roof hatch, a security alarm system at West Elementary School and alarm repairs and interior door locks at the junior high and high school.
The district also would install an "alert now" system notifying staff and parents of any emergency. and district-wide telephone and 911 radio upgrades also would be part of the improvements. All buses would be equipped with 911 mobile radios that could contact the agency instantly instead of just dispatching to the district headquarters.
Voters in the Jefferson County Joint Vocational School District are looking at a 1-mill, seven-year operating levy.
The levy, if approved, would net the vocational school about $1 million annually, with two-thirds of the funds going toward operations and the remaining one-third going to toward permanent improvements.
Superintendent Dale Edwards said administrators decided to reduce the number of years the levy is active to seven, at the request of district voters.
At the top of the list for the JVS is replacement of the school's roof, and it's a task that is estimated to cost more than $1 million. But it must be done, as all areas of the building have experienced leaks. And while the roof has been patched, it's only a temporary fix. As Edwards and his staff have said before, workplaces require skilled workers, and the Jefferson County JVS has always been an excellent learning facility where students come away with the training needed to succeed.
And, in the Indian Creek Local School District, a 3.5-mill bond issue is being sought to help fund a new high school building, as well as some other districtwide improvements.
This bond issue, for 37 years, would allot for the Ohio School Facilities Commission to pay $8 million and district residents would pay $23 million of the total cost for a new facility. Voters should know that $18 million of the district's share would be used for the new high school, while $5 million would go toward improvements at other district buildings.
Superintendent John Rocchi said, the school district, too, reduced the millage - down 1.45 mills from the last levy proposal.
The school district also has plans to use some of the funding, if approved, to upgrade and secure its facilities, first and foremost, as well as eliminate some portable classrooms, upgrade technology, increase gymnasium space, improve heating and air conditioning and renovate parts of Kettlewell Memorial Stadium.
Keep in mind that our youth are our future - period, and they deserve our support in every way, including by checking "yes" on a ballot.