June 30, 2016

Partly sunny

Buckeye regroups after levy failure

YORK TWP. — Buckeye school board members are looking at several funding options in light of the failed levy May 4.

During a special meeting Tuesday night, board members said they are considering putting an emergency levy or an income tax issue on the Aug. 3 ballot. The board plans to make a decision May 18 about how to proceed.

A property tax would bring in $2.6 million a year. The Medina County Auditor’s Office must confirm what millage would be needed to generate that amount annually, but school officials expect it to be about 6.8 mills.

The board also may choose one of two income taxes — one that would bring in $2.03 million and the other $2.7 million. The income taxes were predicted to be 0.75 percent and 1 percent, respectively.

On May 4, about 60 percent of voters rejected a 6.5-mill levy, the district’s 10th consecutive failed request for new money.

The board has not received new operating funds in 16 years. Teachers, school administrators and residents at Tuesday’s board meeting weighed in on why a levy has not passed.

Dawn Hartwell, principal at Buckeye Elementary School, said the community may have become complacent with the services already provided.

“There’s apathy. ‘Things are going fine. I don’t see the need for a levy,’ ” Hartwell said.

Hartwell said residents may be thinking in light of the fact the district received the highest rating from the state — Excellent with Distinction — on its last two report cards.

Excellent, however, is not what the state might say about Buckeye’s finances.

The state placed Buckeye on fiscal caution in April 2009, which means the state now looks over the district’s finances each month.

Superintendent Dennis Honkala has said the district will need positive ending balances for two years to be taken off the list.

Board member Dennis Matson said maybe residents need to be shown what they stand to lose in the district if it does not receive more money.

“People need to be hit with a two-by-four. That’s what it’s going to take,” he said.

He said the district expects to cut another $1.8 million to have a balanced budget next school year.

“There is no fat to cut. We’re cutting meat. And once we cut bone, we’re done,” he said.

One community member suggested the board could select proposed cuts and present them to residents at a public meeting.

Matson thought it was a good idea.

“We can ask, ‘This is what has been recommended, what are your thoughts about it?’ We need to put that personal touch now,” he said.

No decisions about campaign strategies were made Tuesday.

After the meeting, board member Tracy Mattern said any decisions would be made at another board meeting when everyone was present. Two board members — Lynn Urbanic and Gary Horton — were absent Tuesday.

Contact Maria Kacik at (330) 721-4049 or mkacik@medina-gazette.com.