April 23, 2014

Mostly clear

Cloverleaf voters reject levy again

WESTFIELD TWP. — For the third time in a row, voters rejected a 7.9-mill levy for Cloverleaf Schools on Tuesday.

But Superintendent Daryl Kubilus said he is encouraged that the margin of defeat has narrowed with each attempt.

Mandy Davis, of Westfield Township casts a ballot at the Westfield Township hall Tuesday evening. The only issue on the ballot in Westfield Township was a levy for Cloverleaf Schools. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY LOREN GENSON)

“We will work diligently to get the message out, and build on the momentum we created,” Kubilus said.

Cloverleaf’s first levy try in 2011 failed by 23 percentage points. Last November it lost by only 6 percentage points.

Tuesday’s unofficial board of elections returns showed the levy fell short by little more than a single percentage point, with 2,073 votes for the tax and 2,131 votes against.

“The fact that we’ve closed the gap … is a positive sign,” Kubilus said.

Kubilus said the emergency levy will be back on the ballot in the Aug. 6 special election, along with a request to renew a five-year levy passed in 2008.

Kubilus said the district’s financial situation is bad and getting worse.

“Our budget problems aren’t going away,” he said.

In 2012, the district was placed in fiscal emergency by the state. All district financial decisions must be approved by a supervisory committee appointed by the state.

“While we’re in fiscal emergency, decisions will be made based on what’s best for the budget, not what’s best for the children, and the children deserve better than that,” Kubilus said.

District officials estimate they face a $3 million deficit next year. Last year, the district borrowed $678,000 from the state’s fiscal stabilization fund — money that must be repaid by the district.

Don Meyer, left, casts a ballot at the Westfield Township hall Tuesday evening. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY LOREN GENSON)

Cloverleaf has cut $6.6 million from its budget over the last five years, including 70 staff positions, but cuts have not kept up with state funding cuts. In January, the school halted busing for high school students in the district.

Kubilus said there’s nowhere left to cut.

Cloverleaf parent Melinda Jordan said the cuts are part of the reason she supported the levy on Tuesday.

“I think they’re cutting back as much as they can,” she said. “We’ve had two children graduate with great experiences and we want to continue that.”

Don Meyer also turned out at the polls Tuesday to support the levy. He said his children are grown and no longer in the district, but he felt strongly about supporting education.

“I think kids in our district need a quality education and we need to do what we can,” he said. “These are the people who are going to be deciding our future.”

Contact reporter Loren Genson at (330) 721-4063 or lgenson@medina-gazette.com.

  • lookingallaroundme

    “Kubilus said thereu2019s nowhere left to cut.”nnHere are some suggestions”nn1. Release curriculum director at a salary of about 97,000. Take advantage of Medina ESC that offers these services and that we pay for already but don’t use. You could pay a little extra like Buckeye does and get additional work days for curriculum. Estimated saving 67,0000. With no insurance that would be larger.nn2. Stop paying the total retirement benefits for all administrators and others. Savings: about 140,0000nn3. The athletic director’s job could be cut. Rumor has it the coaches do most of the work. The AD makes $77,000, Then gets additional money for something else. Why?nn4. Why do we have Co-principals? Why not a principal and an assistant who makes less. Savings $60,000 for two.nnn5. Maybe we should close the rec center. Two or three full time employees, countless part time employees, lack of transparency for what this building actually costs to run. It costs the school, yet is not part of the school and doesn’t really serve kids. Savings: It would be large.

  • Chip

    The first comment here is 100% correct. Why can’t the district cut these extras and reinstate the necessities? The focus of Cloverleaf at this point should be core education. Currently, it is not, and that is why voters continually reject new money requests. Show some responsibility and focus on core education – then the public will see Cloverleaf spending wisely / living within the means / understanding they provide a student with education first and foremost. This state approved board should know and understand this, but it is evident that they do not get it.

  • Disappointedblackrivervoters

    @ lookingallaroundme. Well stated. I wish people in Black River would of looked at things like that. And been smart like your voters were. But not 59 miss informed voters passed Black Rivers levy.So dad they want to punish the elderly and push them out of their homes. Great job Cloverleaf voters. Wish could say the same for Black River voters.

  • gbh

    What is most disturbing is the voters apathy. As a retired homeowner on a fixed income without children in the school system I can not afford the burden to pay the price of higher taxes for Cloverleaf School system.