June 29, 2016

Partly sunny

Cloverleaf: We’ve made do, but we need more money

Cloverleaf Schools Superintendent Daryl Kubilus stressed the district’s need for operating funds while highlighting achievements in his State of the Schools address.

“We have not allowed the lack of funding to stop us from doing all we can to improve our student performance,” he said Wednesday to a crowd of 30 people gathered at Cloverleaf Elementary School in Westfield Township.

Kubilus noted that in the 2008-09 school year the district was rated “effective” on the state’s report card.

The message projected on a giant screen emphasizes Cloverleaf Schools Superintendent Daryl Kubilus’ call for additional operating funding during his State of the Schools address Wednesday night at Cloverleaf Elementary School. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY KIERA MANION-FISCHER)

Now, Cloverleaf is the only school district in Ohio to be rated “excellent with distinction” while being in fiscal emergency, he said.

Kubilus called this “a dubious honor,” and said he was unsure how long Cloverleaf could maintain the rating without a new levy.

Since January 2012, the district’s finances have been overseen by a five-member state commission and the “fiscal emergency” designation allows it to borrow money from the state.

But that money must be paid back. To do that, the district can’t have a deficit.

“The depths of cuts necessary to stave off our deficit are out of the realm of possibility,” he said, adding that the amount needed from levies only will increase as the district borrows more from the state to cover projected deficits.

A 7.9-mill levy is on the May 7 ballot. It would bring in $3.7 million a year for 10 years and would cost the owner of a $100,000 home an additional $248 a year.

The school board plans an August levy attempt if the May levy fails.

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.

“Although it may seem illogical to keep raising the millage in light of a no vote, it is necessary,” Kubilus said.

Cloverleaf has cut $6.6 million from its budget in the past several years, including 70 positions, Kubilus said.

The district also has met with surrounding townships and villages for a shared services summit, and agreed to discuss possible collaborations on road salt, fuel purchasing, shared grant writing, office supply purchasing and copier leasing, he said.

Should the May 7 levy pass, high school busing will be restored, school buildings will be reopened in the evenings, and there will not be a transition to an all-day, every-other-day kindergarten model next year.

Also, if the levy is approved, funds will be set aside for armed deputies at each school building, something Kubilus said parents requested after the Newtown, Conn., shootings.

In listing the district’s accomplishments, Kubilus singled out several individuals:

• Trevor Dahl, a senior at the high school who received the Franklin B. Walter Award for outstanding achievement;

• Special education teacher Kim Mannix, who was named a “teacher of excellence” by the Medina County Schools’ Educational Service Center.

Kubilus also lauded the high school’s Academic Challenge team for being undefeated in the Medina County league this year and the food service department for going from a $130,000 deficit to $10,000 in the black in three years.

“Cloverleaf is a district that is ‘excellent with distinction,’ ” Kubilus said at the end of his speech. “Let’s keep it that way.”

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