September 22, 2014

Medina
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All 4 school levies fail in Medina County

Voters rejected all four school levies on the Medina County ballot Tuesday.

Cloverleaf’s 6.9-mill emergency levy went down to defeat 5,279-4,626 — 52-to-48 percent, according to unofficial Board of Elections results.

The levy would have cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $217 a year. The tax would have brought in $3.3 million a year, over a period of 10 years for operating costs.

Cloverleaf is in fiscal emergency, meaning a five member state commission oversees its finances, and it can borrow money from the state, but the money must be paid back.

“Obviously I’m devastated by the loss,” said Cloverleaf superintendent Daryl Kubilus. “The defeat means that’s what’s best for kids will continually take a backseat to additional budget cuts.”

Since 2009, the district has cut more than $6.1 million from its budget, including wage freezes, staff cuts and increases in pay-to-play fees.

“The financial crisis is not going away,” he said. “The way I’ll be looking at this is tomorrow is the next day of our next campaign.”

Cloverleaf will be required by the commission to ask voters for revenue again, Kubilus has said.

Because the levy failed, more cuts will be made, required by the fiscal recovery plan approved by the state commission in June. High school busing will be eliminated and kindergarten will go from a half-day, every day model, to all day, every other day. Also, all school buildings will be closed in the evenings to save on utility costs.

Issue 22: Medina City Schools levy

The Medina Schools levy was a 3.9-mill, 10-year additional emergency levy for operating costs. The levy is expected to bring in $4.6 million each year and would have cost the owner of a $100,000 home about an additional $123 a year.

At press time, with about 70 percent of Medina City school district precincts reporting, voters were rejecting the levy 52 to 48 percent, 10,745-9,976 votes.

Board president Bill Grenfell has said that if the levy failed, future cuts “will be fairly horrific.” School officials have also said the district will need to return to the voters next year to ask for more revenue.
Medina superintendent Randy Stepp could not be reached for comment.

Three mills of the levy money would have gone toward maintaining services and 0.9 mills would have been used to bring back reading intervention specialists at the elementary level, and possibly bring back some guidance counselors and elementary and middle school electives.

Issues 19 and 20: Black River Local Schools levies

Black River Schools had two levies on the ballot. One, Issue 19, was an additional 5.8-mill emergency levy for operating costs, which would have raised about $1 million a year, and the other, Issue 20, was a 1.8-mill levy for permanent improvements, which would have raised $331,750 a year.

Black River Schools covers parts of Medina, Ashland and Lorain counties.

Adding together votes from all three counties, Issue 19 failed by 2,584-1,447 votes, and Issue 20 failed by 2,513-1,513 according to unofficial results from the three Boards of Elections.

Issue 19 would have cost the owner of a 100,000 home about $183 a year, and Issue 20 would have cost about $57 a year.

Black River superintendent Janice Wyckoff said the results were disappointing.

I feel bad for the kids because ultimately they’re the ones who end up getting the short end of the stick,” she said. “It’s just unfortunate.”

In February 2011, the district received a fiscal caution letter from the state, which means it now monitors Black River’s finances monthly.

Wyckoff said the board will have to look for more cuts. “We’re going to have to go back to the drawing board and look a bit deeper,” she said. “The cuts are going to be more drastic. We just don’t have the money for the extras.”

If the 5.8-mill emergency levy had been approved, the board said it likely would restore high school busing and eliminated a $10-a-day charge for all-day, every-day kindergarten as well as pay-to-play fees. Now those changes will not be made.

Contact Kiera Manion-Fischer at (330) 721-4049 or kfischer@medina-gazette.com.