On Tuesday, the voting pattern held on school issues in Ohio: The majority of requests for new operating funds were rejected, including levies for Summit County’s Barberton and Nordonia Hills districts. Statewide, less than 40 percent of districts seeking new money were successful. The fortunate in Summit County included Akron, Norton, Twinsburg and Woodridge, where three previous requests had failed. Gratifying, too, was the result in Cleveland, where voters by a surprisingly wide margin approved a 15-mill levy for the municipal school district.
Almost immediately after the approval, the Eric Gordon, the Cleveland superintendent, announced the district will restore in January the 50 minutes it shaved off the school day this spring as part of cost-saving measures to balance the school budget. The new money lends some wiggle room to roll back some of the damaging cutbacks.
As in Cleveland, a top priority among Summit school districts that won approval for new money remains damage control. The distressing reality is that driven into austerity by shrinking funds and repeated rejections at the ballot, even those districts that are fortunate enough to win new levies have little leeway to develop new programs or expand services that are necessary to raise the quality of education. Instead, they find themselves compelled to deploy the new resources simply to hold the line 0to avoid further damage. In districts like Barberton and Nordonia Hills facing more cuts, it gets harder and harder to hold the line.