July 25, 2016

Mostly clear

Cloverleaf Schools: Deep cuts possible if levy fails

WESTFIELD TWP. — Cloverleaf Schools has been told there could be Draconian cuts if a May funding issue fails, and this week the superintendent outlined how Draconian they could be: a shortened school day; no art, music or gym for elementary students; closure of all school libraries; and the elimination of middle school sports.

Superintendent Daryl Kubilus presented a list of potential cuts to the school board Monday night.

“Make no mistake, this meeting tonight is not the desire of the Cloverleaf Board of Education,” Kubilus said. “This meeting is the result of state oversight. Every one of the potential cuts is bad for our students and bad for our community.”

The Ohio Department of Education declared the district in a state of fiscal emergency in January 2012, and a Fiscal Oversight Commission has been overseeing Cloverleaf’s finances since.

Kubilus said Cloverleaf has made more than $7 million in cuts over the past five years and spent $2 million less this school year than the last.

Fiscal Oversight Commission Chairman Paul Marshall has told Cloverleaf officials while the district can make it through this school year, it will run a deficit again in 2014-15. He said another $1 million will need to be eliminated and warned “draconian” cuts may be needed if a fourth levy fails in May.

On Monday, Kubilus presented $1.8 million in potential cuts to the board.

The first option includes a shorter school day; the elimination of art, music and physical education, which would cut seven teaching positions; and terminating transportation for kindergartners. The plan would save nearly $600,000, leaving another $400,000 to cut.

The other cuts would come from a combination of several options. Those include dropping middle school athletics; closing all libraries, which would cut a teaching position and six support staff positions; laying off another 12 support staffers; eliminating the gifted program coordinator; laying off more than six teachers; and doing away with extended-day kindergarten.

Kubilus said the reductions would wipe out many opportunities for students and take the district from its consistent excellent academic ranking to state minimum standards.

Kubilus said the district would face enrollment losses, lower student academic performance, employees leaving for other jobs, diminished property values and community pride, local economic damage, and unsupervised children due to a shortened school day.

“Excellence and minimums are independent concepts,” Kubilus said. “We will have one or we will have the other, but we will definitely not have both.”

The board will compose a list of cuts from those options totaling $1 million at its Feb. 24 meeting, and Kubilus will present the contingency plan to the Fiscal Oversight Commission for approval on Feb. 26.

To try to avoid making additional cuts, Cloverleaf has placed a 3.5-mill property tax and a 0.75 percent earned income tax for 10 years on the May ballot.

Kubilus said the income tax is expected to produce more than $3 million annually. The 3.5-mill property tax would take effect Jan. 1, 2015, and immediately produce more than $1.6 million annually for 10 years.

Voters rejected a 10-year, 8.3-mill levy in November and a 7.9-mill, 10-year levy last May. A 6.9-mill, 10-year levy was rejected in November 2011.

Contact reporter Dan Pompili at (330) 721-4012 or dpompili@medina-gazette.com.