June 28, 2016

Mostly cloudy

Medina school board approves emergency levy for May ballot

MEDINA — The Medina school board voted unanimously Tuesday to place a 5.9-mill, 10-year emergency operating levy on the May ballot.

If passed in the May 7 primary, the levy would allow the district to maintain services and permit the board to bring back some programs that had been cut, Superintendent Randy Stepp said.

Randy Stepp

A portion of the funds would be set aside for additional safety and security.

Voters rejected a 3.9-mill levy in November, 52 percent to 48 percent.

Stepp said the millage had to be increased for the new levy because the failure of the levy last fall means the district has missed out on a year of tax revenue.

A 5.9-mill levy would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $181 a year and bring in about $6.9 million annually.

Board member Bill Grenfell said the board needs to replace revenue and bring back core programs.

“We’ve maintained our excellence, but a lot of it is momentum from the past five years,” he said.

The district has cut more than $9.5 million from its budget, reducing its staff by nearly 20 percent.

Five levies have failed since 2008.

The ballot issue must be submitted to the Medina County Board of Elections by Feb. 6.

If a levy is not passed, the board will need to cut $3.4 million from the district’s budget, officials said.

Options include cutting the school day to five hours and reducing the number of buildings.

Other possibilities include eliminating sports and other extracurricular activities; music, art, gym and technology programs; elective classes at both the middle and high schools; advanced placement classes; and foreign languages.

Board president Charles Freeman said passing the levy will be a challenge. He noted the results of a recent survey of community members showed that the poor economy was the No. 1 concern.

“People are just in a hard place right now,” he said.

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