June 30, 2016

Mostly clear

Cloverleaf school levy would include funds for armed guards

WESTFIELD TWP. — Cloverleaf school officials hope to pass a levy in May for the financially strapped district and they’re promising trained, armed officers at each school if it does.

The school board on Jan. 14 approved placing a 7.9-mill, 10-year emergency levy on the May 7 primary ballot.

Superintendent Daryl Kubilus said the board factored in the cost of adding two armed officers into the levy request. The district already has an armed resource officer in the high school, funded by a grant.

“The sentiments expressed to me immediately following the Sandy Hook tragedy was that parents were grateful we had an armed deputy at one of our schools,” Kubilus said. “But the question consistently was, ‘Why can’t we have a deputy in each building?’ “

The measure approved Monday is only the first step toward putting a levy on the ballot.

Because the district has been placed under fiscal emergency, the levy also requires the approval of the state fiscal oversight commission. The commission is scheduled to meet Thursday.

The district has failed to pass a levy in four tries. In November, voters struck down a 6.9-mill levy by a margin of 6 percent.

Since then, the district has halted busing operations for students, cut kindergarten from a half-day, everyday model to an all-day, every-other-day model, and closed buildings in the evenings to save on utility costs.

Those are the most recent savings in what has amounted to $6.1 million in cuts for the district since 2009.

Kubilus has told the board and commission there isn’t anywhere left to cut. He said board members figured the cost of adding the officers would be 0.2 mills and included that in the new levy. The cost would be the equivalent of $94,000.

Kubilus said the levy is the only way the district can get new revenue.

“As a district in financial emergency, we don’t have the ability to move money around,” Kubilus said. “I don’t have funds I can shift.”

If the levy passes, the new tax is expected to bring in $3.7 million annually. It would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $248 a year.

In addition to adding sheriff’s deputies, the district also promises to restore kindergarten to half-day, every day, restore busing and reopen schools to community groups in the evenings.

“My hope is that voters will vote for the levy; it just seems so obvious,” he said. “This would give us the ability to do something with security we have not been able to do.”

Other Ohio schools have been stepping up security in the wake of the Sandy Hook shootings.

Last week, the Orrville school board voted unanimously to allow a science teacher to carry a concealed weapon at the school. The teacher, Bill Yerman, also works as a police officer in Lawrence Township.

Contact reporter Loren Genson at (330) 721-4063 or lgenson@medina-gazette.com.

Loren Genson About Loren Genson

Loren Genson was The Gazette's senior reporter. From August 2012 through September 2015, she covered Brunswick city and state and national government. To contact The Gazette, call the managing editor at (330) 721-4065.