SULLIVAN — Black River coach Al Young is a winner on the gridiron. Now he’s trying to score a victory with voters.
Young, the most successful football coach in Medina and Ashland county histories, is co-chairing Friends of Black River Schools, a levy committee promoting an 8.7-mill, five-year levy on the May 7 primary ballot.
The levy would cost residents of the district, which covers parts of Medina, Lorain and Ashland counties, about $274 annually for the owner of a $100,000 home.
Young said schools are important anywhere, but they’re especially important in rural districts, such as Black River.
“These kids do not have million-dollar retail malls that they can walk down the street to and hang out at after school,” Young said. “When the bell rings at the end of the day, these kids are hanging out in the gyms, auditorium and cafeteria. They are heading to basketball practice, choir practice, National Honor Society, the weight room, band or FFA.
“Their school is where they are spending their free time and where they are flourishing.”
Young said passing the levy is more important than ever because Gov. John Kasich’s proposed two-year budget provides no additional money for the Black River district.
The levy would raise more than a million dollars per year, enough to allow the district to reduce pay-to-play fees for sports and to eliminate kindergarten fees.
Young said the district already has cut more than $5 million from the budget since 2004, which included terminating 83 teachers and staff.
“There just isn’t anything left to cut without jeopardizing our children’s education and social well-being,” he said.
Black River has failed five times to pass a levy since 2010 and was placed on fiscal caution by the state in February 2011.
The board voted earlier this month to put the levy on the ballot. Board President Bruce Goff and board member Jody Weidrick voted it down, wanting more millage than 8.7.
Young said passing the levy is also a personal matter.
“I was born and raised here,” he said. “Not only is this school filled with kids and teachers, it’s filled with people that I consider my family.
“You can see that the district has nowhere to turn except the community,” Young said. “We need the community to stand together and get this levy passed in May.”
Contact reporter Nick Glunt at (330) 721-4048 or firstname.lastname@example.org.