July 25, 2014

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Election 2013: Candidates seeking to fix Cloverleaf’s finances

Voters in the Cloverleaf School district in Westfield Township have a chance to elect three school board members, as well as decide a school levy.

Board members William Hutson and President Chris Berry are not running for re-election, so the board will see at least two new members.

Four candidates, including a current board member, a former mayor of Chippewa Lake, the vice president of an educational software company and a banker are running for the three board seats.

A major challenge board members face will be dealing with the Cloverleaf’s financial issues. The district has been in “fiscal emergency” since January 2012, and a five-member state commission must approve all of the board’s financial decisions.

Michael J. Maloney Jr.

Michael Maloney

Maloney is vice president of business development for eSchoolView, a division of Infinite Cohesion, a company that creates software and educational websites for school districts across the country. Previously, the Lafayette Township resident served as the community information officer for Cloverleaf Schools between 2009 and 2010.

Maloney is married and has two young children.

All of the candidates cited budgetary concerns as a top priority for Cloverleaf.

“One thing I would like to accomplish is continue the great steps that Cloverleaf has made to be as fiscally responsible as possible and continue to investigate shared services,” Maloney said.

The district now shares Treasurer Jim Hudson with Medina City Schools.

Maloney said he is prepared for the challenges ahead.

“The Board of Education is going to be continually faced with hard decisions,” he said. “I just want to make sure the decisions that are made are within the best interest of the students as well as fiscally responsible as possible.”

Maloney serves on the advisory board of Walsh University, and is a member of the Cleveland and Columbus chambers of commerce.

Jason Myers

Jason Myers

Myers, of Lodi, works for FirstMerit Bank in Wooster. He is married and has three children.

Myers has not run for a political office. He said he hoped he could bring his experience in corporate banking to help with the district’s finances.

“My big goal is to help simplify the whole financial situation of the district,” he said. “What I’m really hoping to do is help communicate the district’s financial situation to the voters. Given the nature of how funding works in the state of Ohio, that task is difficult.”

Because the district is in fiscal emergency, the five-member state commission is requiring it to go on the ballot for a levy until one is approved, and he hoped to communicate that to voters.

Myers is a board member for the Cloverleaf Soccer Association, a Cub Scout leader, a soccer and T-ball coach and an advisory board member of a local Junior Achievement chapter, a non-profit that teaches students financial literacy.

Jane Rych

Jane Rych

Rych, of Westfield Center, is running for her second term on the Cloverleaf school board. She is the only incumbent on the ballot. Rych, an insurance agent for Plumer Insurance in Seville, is married and has two children who graduated from the district.

Rych said her main goal if re-elected was to make sure Cloverleaf students are prepared for the future.

“It’s really about the kids,” she said. “It’s making sure they’re prepared for whatever they decide to pursue.”

She said it’s necessary for the district to provide a variety of opportunities for students. “Colleges look for kids who are very well rounded, look for kids who have leadership,” Rych said.

Although she doesn’t have the same financial background as some of the other candidates, she said, she has learned a great deal from her time serving on the board. “I really think that’s it’s important to get a parent’s perspective,” she said.

Rych is also involved in organizing fundraisers and activities for the Westfield Township Fire Department, and is a member of PEO Chapter EX in Medina.

William Schmock

William Schmock

Schmock, of Chippewa Lake, said his whole family graduated from Cloverleaf schools. His daughter works as a kindergarten teacher and his wife is a paraprofessional aide in the district.

Schmock, who is retired, last worked for Premier Manufacturing in Cleveland. He was mayor of Chippewa Lake between 1980 and 2002, and was involved in merging the villages of Chippewa-on-the-Lake and Briarwood Beach in 1998.

He said he has worked on both corporate and government budgets, which will prepare him to work with the district’s fiscal issues, if elected.

“We’ve got to balance our cost-cutting while still providing the high quality education that our children are receiving,” he said.

Schmock also said teachers must be supported.

“That’s where the money needs to go — into the classrooms,” he said. “There’s additional classes that I’d love to see.”

Schmock served on the Lodi Hospital board of directors when it combined with Akron General, and worked on a committee at the Medina Sheriff’s Office to upgrade its communication system.

Cloverleaf levy

The Cloverleaf school board has expanded the number of programs that will be brought back if a levy passes.

Additions include restoring two gifted program teachers, capping elementary school classes at 28 students and restoring ninth-grade sports, some non-athletic activities such as children’s theater, Elementary Student Council, and field trips.

Also, pay-to-play fees would be reduced from $250 to $150 at the high school level and $125 to $75 for middle-schoolers.

The 10-year, 8.3-mill levy will cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $291 a year.

As the district did in its last levy try during the primary election, the district plans to bring back high school busing; half-day, everyday kindergarten; and reopen school buildings to community groups in the evenings — cuts made under the district’s fiscal recovery plan.

The district will also place a law enforcement officer at each school, a move requested by parents after last year’s Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

Superintendent Daryl Kubilus said the board and the five-member commission overseeing district finances have not yet made plans for more cuts if the levy fails.

If the levy fails, Kubilus said the commission would likely have a special meeting to determine more cuts.

“That’s a scary proposition for us, one which I’m hopeful we won’t have to endure,” he said.

The district is projecting a $5.8 million deficit by 2017 if a levy is not approved.

Kubilus said many people have asked him how soon the district would be on the ballot again if the levy is approved. He said that even though the state’s formula for funding schools is unpredictable, he didn’t expect to return to the ballot for new operating money until “sometime in the 2020s.”

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