April 24, 2014

Medina
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Brunswick School Board moves levy forward

BRUNSWICK — The Brunswick Board of Education took the first step toward putting a two-year, 4.9-mill operating levy on the Nov. 5 ballot.

Board members said the two-year time frame will allow them to adapt to changes in what the state budget provides the district and will let voters decide if the money is being spent wisely.

The board considered a nine-year, 5.9-mill levy request for the May primary ballot but scrapped the idea in February to wait on the outcome of the state’s two-year budget. The district will receive an extra $2.2 million annually from the state.

Board President Thomas Neumann said reducing the size of the levy proves the district is being responsible with taxpayer dollars.

“I think we were very cautious in waiting to see what we receive,” he said.

Neumann also said school officials kept their promise not to ask voters for new operating money until 2011, and if approved, the new levy wouldn’t begin collecting money until 2014.

“I want to thank our administrators for stretching the budget as best they can over the last few years,” he said. “But we can’t stretch anymore.”

If approved, the levy would bring in an estimated $4,956,000 each year for the two years it’s collected and cost the owner of a home valued at $100,000 an additional $171.50 per year.

Brunswick Superintendent Michael Mayell said the additional $2.2 million annually promised by the state for the next two years doesn’t come close to making up for the cuts Brunswick and other school districts around the state have struggled with since 2008.

“The amount of money we’re getting next year is still about $3 million less than we received in 2007,” he said. “It doesn’t come close to making up for the cuts we had in the last budgets.”

Late last year, district Treasurer Patrick East predicted a budget shortfall of about $5.1 million by the end of the 2013-14 school year.

The district closed out 2012-13 with just more than $3 million in unreserved funds. East said he expects the district to break even by the end of next school year, with no funds left in reserve.

Board Vice President Richard Nowak underlined the need for new funding and promised taxpayers they would have the opportunity to see how their money is being used over the next two years.

“It’s saying to the public you can decide in two years what you want to do,” he said.

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