October 25, 2014

Medina
Mostly sunny
63°F

Levy is vital to Medina district

MEDINA — Medina City Schools predicts a $13.29 million deficit by the end of June 2011 if an 11.7-mill incremental levy fails Tuesday, Treasurer Wally Gordon said.

But even if the levy does pass and the district collects $9.9 million,
officials say the district would still need to make up the difference by cutting costs.

“We’ve tried to communicate that we are reducing costs,” Superintendent Randy Stepp said. “And we will do so with or without the levy.”

If the levy fails, “it will tear down the progress we’ve made over the years very quickly,” Stepp said.

The district recently earned the “Excellent with Distinction” academic designation from the state.

If approved, the levy would be phased in over three years — 3.9 mills each year.

Property owners would pay $119.44 for every $100,000 in appraised property value the first year, according to a spokeswoman from the Medina County Auditor’s Office. The following year, property owners would pay $238.88 a year for every $100,000 in appraised value and they would pay $358.32 in 2012 and each year thereafter.

If the levy is defeated, Stepp said cuts “across the entire school district” would begin as early as the winter sports season, in the form of pay-to-play sports. Transportation cuts would begin Jan. 4, he said, with the elimination of 25 to 28 positions, and no busing for high school students and for other students who live within two miles of their school.

Cuts would occur in “programs that create the kind of school district we are, the kind of cuts to the core of what this district has been for a long time,” Stepp said.

He said “classroom-oriented” cuts to areas like support staff and programming would be effective at the start of the next school year.

According to the district’s Web site, 145 positions are marked for an estimated $8.2 million in cuts, if the levy fails.

The district has seen increases of 51 percent in enrollment and 48 percent in staffing since 1989, according to the Web site. Annual reductions in state educational funding, all-day kindergarten mandated by House Bill 1, and operating expenses associated with the five schools built since 1995 add to the district’s current financial woes, school officials have said.

Two of the elementary schools, Ralph E. Waite in Montville Township and Eliza Northrup in Medina, were built using sales tax revenue.

The last levy on the ballot for operating expenses, in March 2008, was for 6.9 mills and was defeated. Two operating levies have passed since 1995, one in May 1995 for 8.4 mills and one in February 2005 for 7.9 mills.

Contact Audrey McCrone at (330) 721-4063 or amccrone@ohio.net.