August 23, 2014

Medina
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New school levies fail across Medina County

By Jennifer Pignolet and Kaitlin Bushinski

Of five school issues on Tuesday’s ballot in Medina County, voters only approved renewal requests — a permanent improvement levy for Cloverleaf Local Schools and an operating levy for Brunswick City Schools.

Black River

Voters in the Black River Local School District soundly defeated an income tax request Tuesday.

According to unofficial results from the Medina County Board of Elections, 2,163 voters cast ballots against the tax request and 1,002 were for it.

“I’m really disappointed because I don’t want to do anything that’s going to hurt the kids,” school board President Mike Gannon said. “That’s what it’s about.”

Susan West, of Medina, shares the voting experience Tuesday morning with her sons, Jonathan, left, and Braden at the Community Center on the Medina County Fairgrounds in Medina. Jonathan is a Cub Scout and was taking part in voting as a “Webelos project for citizenship,” his mother said. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY STEVE GRAZIER)

Susan West, of Medina, shares the voting experience Tuesday morning with her sons, Jonathan, left, and Braden at the Community Center on the Medina County Fairgrounds in Medina. Jonathan is a Cub Scout and was taking part in voting as a “Webelos project for citizenship,” his mother said. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY STEVE GRAZIER)

Gannon said the district, which spans Ashland, Lorain and Medina counties, is facing a $1.4 million deficit by 2012. The tax was estimated to have brought in $1.4 million a year.

Superintendent Janice Wyckoff said the district has cut 65 staff and teaching positions through reductions in force and attrition in the past eight years.

This was the first time the district had asked for new money since 1997.

Gannon said specific cuts have not yet been discussed, but he would recommend the board and the superintendent start examining possible cuts in the next month or two.

“It’s going to start affecting the way we operate big time,” Gannon said. “I’m disappointed but we’ll do what we can.”

He said he hopes the issue will be back on the ballot in May.

“Everybody seems to think that (we’re) just crying wolf,” Gannon said. “We’re not crying wolf.

Brunswick

Brunswick City Schools will continue to receive about $4.67 million a year for the next seven years after voters approved a renewal levy on Tuesday.

According to unofficial results from the county Board of Elections, 7,794 voters (55.56 percent) approved the district’s request and 6,235 (44.44 percent) said no.

Voters originally approved the levy in 2006.

The cost to taxpayers will increase by about $3 because the millage increased from 4.5 to 4.6 mills. Millage increases or decreases for a renewal levy are a result of changing property values.

Starting in 2011, property owners will pay $140.88 per $100,000 of appraised valuation, according to the county Auditor’s Office.

Superintendent Michael Mayell has said the levy accounts for about 7 percent of the district’s budget. Revenues will be used to maintain programming and staffing levels.
Mayell could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.

Cloverleaf

Voters approved one of Cloverleaf Local Schools’ two levies Tuesday by a slim margin while soundly defeating the other, according to unofficial results from the county Board of Elections.

Voters approved the 2-mill permanent improvement levy, a renewal request, with 4,002 (51.05 percent) voting for the issue and 3,837 (48.95 percent) against it. In May, voters defeated the same renewal request.

“I would like to emphasize how grateful we are to our taxpayers for passing that renewal,” Superintendent Daryl Kubilis said.

The levy will cost the owner of a $100,000 home $57.13 a year and bring in $958,671 a year, the same as now, according to the county Auditor’s Office.

The levy covers permanent improvements such as books, buses and technology. It cannot be used for teacher or administrator salaries.

Kubilis said the school is spending revenue from Medina County’s half-percent sales tax marked for permanent improvement projects on the $23 million elementary school the district is building in Westfield Township.

Almost 67 percent of voters rejected Cloverleaf’s 5.9-mill emergency request for operating expenses. The vote was 5,200 against the levy and 2,604 for it, according to unofficial results.

If approved, it would have cost the owner of a $100,000 house $185.85 a year and brought in approximately $2.7 million a year over five years, according to the county Auditor’s Office.

Kubilis said the levy’s failure will result in deeper cuts in the school district. Without the levy, the district is facing a $871,000 deficit in fiscal year 2011.

He said the district already has cut $1.6 million from its budget in the past two years.

Medina

More staffing cuts are in store for Medina City Schools following Tuesday’s defeat of the 5.9-mill emergency levy for operating expenses.

Rick Forney, assistant superintendent of Medina City Schools, and Andrea Lyons, co-chair of Friends of Medina City Schools, view incoming election results Tuesday night at Medina High School. Voters defeated the district's 5.9-mill levy request by 9,727 votes (56.99 percent) to 7,341 (43.01 percent). (GAZETTE PHOTO BY JENNIFER PIGNOLET)

Rick Forney, assistant superintendent of Medina City Schools, and Andrea Lyons, co-chair of Friends of Medina City Schools, view incoming election results Tuesday night at Medina High School. Voters defeated the district's 5.9-mill levy request by 9,727 votes (56.99 percent) to 7,341 (43.01 percent). (GAZETTE PHOTO BY JENNIFER PIGNOLET)

Voters defeated the levy by 9,727 votes against (56.99 percent) to 7,341 votes (43.01 percent) for it, according to unofficial results from the county Board of Elections.

The county Auditor’s Office said the five-year emergency levy would have generated about $6.95 million a year and cost property owners $185.85 per $100,000 of assessed value.

Superintendent Randy Stepp said the gap was much closer this year compared to November 2009 when about 65 percent of voters rejected an 11.7-mil incremental levy.

“Maybe people feel that we’ve listened to them,” Stepp said about the closer vote.

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

Board President Mark Dolan has said the only thing left to cut is staff. He estimated between 50 and 60 staff members would lose their jobs and academic offerings likely would be reduced to state minimum standards.

The district is projected to finish the 2010-11 school year with a positive balance after making cuts in staff and services, including 93.5 certified positions — teachers and guidance counselors — and around 30 support staff. It also reduced the hours for part-time 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.

Contact Kaitlin Bushinski at (330) 721-4050 or kbushinski@medina-gazette.com. Contact Jennifer Pignolet at (330) 721-4063 or jpignolet@medina-gazette.com.