April 24, 2014

Medina
Intermittent clouds
45°F

Ax to fall with Cloverleaf Schools levy failure

Without passage of a levy in May, the Cloverleaf school district will be forced to make unspecified “draconian” cuts. The five-member state commission overseeing Cloverleaf’s finances met in a special session Thursday to discuss the most recent levy failure on Nov. 5.

“The district can get through this year. Next year they’re going to run a deficit again,” said Paul Marshall, chairman of the commission.

Under Ohio law, school districts must operate with a balanced budget. Cloverleaf has been in fiscal emergency for 1½ years, requiring the commission to approve all the district’s financial decisions and allowing it to borrow money from the state to operate.

Marshall said the district’s current recovery plan assumed passage of a levy this month. Instead, voters rejected a 10-year, 8.3-mill levy.

“If a levy is not approved, and fairly quickly, we’re going to have to make some other decisions,” Marshall said.

The district has projected a $5.8 million deficit by 2017 if a new levy is not approved. The Nov. 5 levy would have brought in $3.7 million a year in operating funds for Cloverleaf.

As in previous meetings, Marshall praised the district for cutting nearly $7 million from its budget since 2009. In 2011, the district was spending $28 million. This year, it spent less than $26 million, he said.

He said the budget always could be cut further, but neither the commission members nor school board would like the results.

“We’re going to have to work our way down to simply meeting state minimum standards,” he said, which would likely mean further cuts to staff and extracurricular activities.

A performance audit released in May recommended only $330,700 in potential cost-savings, mostly in negotiated agreements, and not enough to offset the district’s projected deficits, according to the recovery plan.

Cloverleaf Superintendent Daryl Kubilus called the recommendations “unrealistic,” saying the unions already have agreed to salary freezes and increases in health premiums.

Kubilus said he would not recommend further reductions, and only would research minimum standards if the commission ordered him to do it.
“I was hired to build this district. I wasn’t hired to dissect it,” he said.

Rebecca Sovchik, president of the Cloverleaf Education Association, thanked Kubilus for recognizing the concessions made by the teachers union, saying the membership has been reduced from 219 to 158 teachers.

“We work hard every day,” she said. “We love our kids, we love our jobs, we love this district and we are committed to this district,” she said.

The board has not yet decided a millage amount for a May levy. The deadline is Feb. 5 to file with the Medina County Board of Elections.

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

  • lookingallaroundme

    A performance audit released in May recommended only $330,700 in potential cost-savings, mostly in negotiated agreements, and not enough to offset the districtu2019s projected deficits, according to the recovery plan.nnnn”mostly in negotiated agreements” but not all. The report stated clearly that administrators are overpaid. The Board’s solution was to CUT OUT PAYING 100% OF RETIREMENT BENEFITS FOR ADMINISTRATORS HIRED IN THE FUTURE. The result still leaves overpaid administrators. These benefits could be cut by a simple board action–no contracts involved- saving over $100,000. Kubby has no backbone to do what needs to be done–cut your buddies.

  • Realistic

    Another point to ponder – I truly believe that this levy continues to fail because voters can visibly see poor spending on wrong priorities. This school district has never had its priorities straight and voters recognize that. Sure, the district has made spending cuts but most of those have hurt the education for the kids. When will the Cloverleaf administration recognize that getting back to CORE education is EXACTLY what the voters want to see? It is not a wise spend for the voters if they are not seeing or understanding that their money goes directly to core education. I was excited to see the comment u201cWeu2019re going to have to work our way down to simply meeting state minimum standards,u201d… this is the first time that has been spoken. This MUST be followed through by reorganizing what was or was not cut to this point. The district needs to look at its offering as a whole and see what EDUCATIONAL items they have to have. At the same time, they need to leave all EXTRACURRICULARS out of the equation. These “extras” are what make the voter very angry and they will not pass a levy. In the voter’s mind, paying for the “extras” before education paints a very, very, very poor picture of the priorities of the school district. I have communicated with the board (William Hutson) about this specific issue for at least 3yrs now and they have looked the other way. This board, this district – they just don’t get it. This is THEIR opportunity to turn the school around and create productiove, educated kids. This would set a precedent in Ohio, but they are not brave enough to make it happen. These people need to be ashamed of themselves for placing childrens education LAST. Please stand up and do what is RIGHT FOR THE KIDS!!!!!!! They want to be educated first and foremost!!! The district cannot afford the extras, so cut them out or at least turn them into a COMPLETELY booster funded program. This then needs marketed to the community so that the district is transparent about how it spends AND where the money is going. Until this is done, a levy WILL NOT PASS.

  • Jason Steidl

    Realistic, you’re clueless. Education is much bigger than core subjects. Extracurricular activities provide fundamental ways for students to develop and grow their talents. In our increasingly competitive world, a full education that includes opportunities for achievement in sports and the arts is the only way we can prepare our students for success. An education reduced to the bare requirements is no education at all. Most students thrive when all their talents are engaged and their abilities recognized within the supportive environment that schools provide. Take this away and those who can afford to leave will send their children to private schools where they will get real opportunities to grow. If we want equal education for our students we must offer them all the benefits of a robust academic and extracurricular education. I thank God I was at Cloverleaf when these opportunities existed to prepare me for a life of achievement.n

  • Realistic

    You have to remember one thing – Cloverleaf can’t even pay for the core education items now, so why would they take money AWAY from that and pay for the extras? The core education is the foundation for a public school system. The extras are just that EXTRAS. If the district did this simple step, the public would recognize that their priorities are in the right place. Voters should be responsible for paying/supporting the core educational items… NOT the EXTRAS. No kid is “entitled” to these extras… however they ARE entitled to a good education. There must be separation between core education and extras.