July 1, 2016

Mostly cloudy

Cloverleaf levy effort hits last stretch

WESTFIELD TWP. — Volunteers will make a final push this weekend by going door-to-door and making phone calls to encourage Cloverleaf voters to approve the 7.9-mill levy on Tuesday’s ballot.

Cloverleaf Superintendent Daryl Kubilus said that if the levy is approved, along with a renewal of an existing levy in August, the district will lose its “fiscal emergency” designation from the state auditor’s office.

Should Tuesday’s levy fail, the district faces a $3 million deficit next year.

“We cannot cut $3 million from the budget,” Kubilus said.

The state auditor’s office placed the district in fiscal emergency about 1½ years ago and a five-member state commission now manages Cloverleaf’s financial decisions.

To balance its budget, the district can borrow money from the state’s fiscal stabilization fund.

Last year, Cloverleaf borrowed $678,000 from the fund, money that must be repaid, Kubilus said.

If the levy is approved, the school board has promised to reinstate various cuts that took effect this year and prevent a planned change next school year from a half-day, every-day kindergarten model to an all-day, every-other-day model.

Kubilus said the second model is worse for students academically but saves money on transportation costs.

In January, Cloverleaf ended high school busing, something that would be reinstated next school year if the levy passes. The board also plans to reopen school buildings to community groups in the evenings.

Kubilus said closing the buildings “violates the spirit of what we desire for our school district,” because he said the schools should be the center of the community.

The board also plans to set aside money for an armed sheriff’s deputy at each of the district’s three buildings, a change some parents have requested after the Newtown, Conn., shootings.

Now, a grant-funded school resource officer is stationed at the high school.

The levy 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.

Cloverleaf has cut $6.6 million from its budget over the past five years, including 70 staff positions, but the cuts have not kept up with losses in state funding, school officials say.

Under Gov. John Kasich’s proposed budget, and the budget proposal from the Ohio House, Cloverleaf is due to receive no increase in funding.

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