July 1, 2016

Intermittent clouds

Medina to wait until November for levy try

MEDINA — The Medina school board began discussions Monday about asking voters to approve a levy in November.

Board President Karla Robinson said she doesn’t anticipate trying for a levy sooner — in an August special election — saying the board needs time to explain to the public exactly what the levy will cost them and how the money will be spent.

“We’ve decided August is just too soon,” Robinson said during a board work session. “We’ll need through the summer to educate people on some of these issues.”

The deadline to file a ballot issue for the August special election is Wednesday.

Board members also said the public needs to be informed about exactly what would be cut should the levy fail.

Robinson said some of the priorities for programs to bring back have not changed, such as reading intervention and gifted education at the elementary levels.

“I’m still hearing reading intervention is the No. 1 priority, because of the Third Grade Reading Guarantee,” she said.

The state Third Grade Reading Guarantee is a requirement that students beginning third grade next school year cannot advance to fourth grade if they are not reading at their grade level.

Interim Superintendent David Knight said the board needs to be ready to make some decisions on the November levy by its June meeting.

District spokeswoman Jeanne Hurt agreed.

“If we wait to make decisions, and we can’t start communicating until September, it’s too late,” she said.

Hurt said the public needs to be informed about what programs would be brought back, how much the levy would cost them and why it is needed.

Board member Doug Adamczyk said the board could better communicate to the public exactly what will happen should the levy pass or fail.

Adamczyk replaced former school board President Charles Freeman, who resigned March 26 after public uproar over Superintendent Randy Stepp’s new contract that provided him with an $83,000 signing bonus.

On April 8, the school board placed Stepp on paid administrative leave pending completion of a special state audit of the district’s carryover fund held by the Medina County Schools’ Educational Service Center.

The fund had been used to pay more than a quarter-million dollars for Stepp’s education and for travel expenses.

A week later, on April 16, board members voted to rescind Stepp’s contract, saying they violated Ohio’s Sunshine laws when they approved it Jan. 7 during a work session.

That same day, the board pulled its 5.9-mill levy from today’s ballot, saying there was no hope of passage.

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