November 22, 2014

Medina
Cloudy
43°F

Medina schools: District tries again for emergency levy

MEDINA — A year after voters defeated an 11.7-mill emergency levy, the Medina City School Dis­trict is seeking voters’ support again on Nov. 2.

The five-year, 5.9-mill emer­gency levy on the ballot would gen­erate about $6.95 million a year and cost property owners $185.85 per $100,000 of assessed value, according to the Medina County Auditor’s Office.

The district is projected to finish the 2010-11 school year with a pos­itive balance after making cuts in staff and services. This year the dis­trict cut 93.5 certified positions — teachers and guidance counselors — and around 30 support staff. It also reduced the hours for part­time staff, and administrators vol­untarily agreed to contribute 15 percent toward their benefits.

The Medina City Teachers Asso­ciation also made about $1 million in concessions as part of an agree­ment reached June 9 with the school board. Around 15 positions were retained with the funds saved by that agreement for the 2010-11 school year.

Board President Mark Dolan said if the levy fails, those positions will be cut again. Superintendent Randy Stepp said the November issue is a “maintenance levy” that would allow the school to operate at its current level of staffing and programming.

Treasurer Wally Gordon said if the levy fails, at the end of 2012 the school district will have a projected deficit of $3.9 mil­lion and at the end of 2013 an esti­mated deficit of $16.2 million.

“That’s assuming that the local tax revenue is not increasing, and it’s also assuming that the state funding is decreasing because it has been like that last year and this year. The state fund­ing decreased, and we’re expecting that trend to continue,” Gordon said.

“And what we’re spending is con­tinuing to increase, that’s what we’re up against,” he said.

Dolan said the only thing left to cut, if the levy fails, is staff. He esti­mated between 50 and 60 staff members would lose their jobs.

“What that means is the services those people provide wouldn’t be offered any more,” Dolan said, adding academic offerings likely would be reduced to state mini­mum standards.

The school district also must institute all-day kindergarten in 2013.

It has received a waiver from the state to postpone the move until then. It will cost the district an esti­mated $1 million to institute, said Stepp, which will come from other areas in the district.

Dolan said if the levy passes, the school board has pledged to bring back busing for all students who live more than a mile from their school.

Busing was reduced to state minimums in January 2010, which meant eliminating busing for high school students and other students who live within two miles of their school.

Pay-to-participate fees for sports and other extracurricular activities, such as music and the performing arts, would be cut in half if the levy passes. It currently costs up to $660 to participate in varsity sports.

“We’ve been finding ways to reduce our costs and reduce the burden of the levy as much as pos­sible,” Stepp said. “In a tough economy, I hope people consider voting … for the levy because education, I believe, is as important as ever. I’d hate us to see us go out and make cuts to the school district when in an economy like this we need to be preparing our students with an even better education.”