July 28, 2014

Medina
Mostly cloudy
63°F

Highland Schools levy passes by 17 votes

GRANGER TWP. — After 12 years without new operating money, and three levy defeats since November 2009, voters gave Highland Schools a win Tuesday night.

The 6.9-mill, 10-year emergency levy on the ballot passed 2,870 votes to 2,853, according to unofficial results from the Medina County Board of Elections. It is expected to bring in about $4.6 million annually.

A voter checks in at the Granger Township Administration Building on Tuesday afternoon. Poll worker and township resident Barbara Downey, center, said the voter turnout had been “steady.” The only issue on the ballot in Granger was a 6.9-mill levy request for Highland Schools. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY LIZ SHEAFFER)

A voter checks in at the Granger Township Administration Building on Tuesday afternoon. Poll worker and township resident Barbara Downey, center, said the voter turnout had been “steady.” The only issue on the ballot in Granger was a 6.9-mill levy request for Highland Schools. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY LIZ SHEAFFER)

“The Highland community rallied for the schools at a time when we needed them the most. This issue was necessary to keep our school district and community strong,” Superintendent Catherine Aukerman said.

“Thanks to the hard work of Mal Brooker, levy chairperson, and Bonnie Zidd, campaign manager, and hundreds of volunteers made up of parents, students, teachers, staff members, businesses and engaged citizens, this issue was a success. We thank the community for choosing to support education and the students of our communities,” she said. “We can now continue to provide the quality education that our students and community rely on and expect from us. We truly can’t thank the community enough for their support.

Tuesday’s levy will cost property owners $217.36 a year per $100,000 of appraised property valuation, according to figures from the Medina County Auditor’s Office.

Highland projected a $3.8 million deficit in June 2013, according to its last five-year forecast filed with the state, and Aukerman has said Gov. John Kasich’s two-year budget proposal would cut about $3.2 million to the district.

Last month, the Highland teachers union and administrators agreed to pay more for health benefits over the next two years, saving the district $1 million. Despite the savings, Aukerman has said Highland still would have to make $6.5 million in cuts if the levy failed, and everything would be on the line.

“We are just so relieved that our schools can continue providing the quality education our children need for their futures.” board President Dan Petek said. “After $4 million in cuts and sacrifices by our teachers and administrators, the passage of this levy was so important to keep us from cutting into the core educational programs that we all value and our children need.

“On behalf of the board of education and the entire Highland community, thank you so much for your support of the Highland Schools. It is greatly appreciated.”

The $4 million in cuts in the last two years included laying off 40 teachers and staff, consolidating bus routes and freezing administrators’ pay.

Contact Liz Sheaffer at (330) 721-4060 or lsheaffer@medina-gazette.com.

About Liz Sheaffer