Akron voters Tuesday gave a resounding yes to new money for the city school district.
“We’ll be able to continue some of the work that we started over four years ago,” Akron School Superintendent David James said Tuesday night as voter approval for Issue 61 approached 60 percent. “We still have some cuts to make but they won’t be as severe as they would have been if the levy failed.”
The district projected a $4.7 million deficit at the end of this fiscal year and $27 million by the end of fiscal 2014. The 7.9-mill property tax increase will generate $19.2 million annually.
The district made $19 million in cuts in May, which included 84 teacher layoffs, a reduction of hours for school custodians and the elimination of elementary school band and orchestra programs and middle school sports.
“I’ve been here for 20 years and I’ve never seen anything like this. Our businesses rallied behind us. I’ve seen our citizens volunteer from PTA moms to retirees,” James said. “I don’t think this time we left anything on the table. I think we put everything we had into this campaign.”
Even though the levy won approval, the district will still have to find $9 million in additional savings, but will not have to slash more jobs and programs.
“We’re happy but it’s tempered because we still have a lot of hard work to do,” James said. “As we look at this year to see if we can limit some of our expenses we may be able to make a dent, but will have to work with the board and staff to get some other ideas about program offerings, class size and extracurricular activities.”
Twenty other area school districts — about a third of those in the Akron-Canton region — asked voters for new money on Tuesday’s ballot, with mixed results.
• Woodridge voters gave thumbs up to a 6.83-mill, 5-year levy that would generate $3 million a year. The district has cut $2.1 million, mostly through staff reductions, but anticipated cutting nearly $2 million more without the new revenue.
A similar issue failed by just 90 votes in August.
“Thank God,” said Superintendent Walter Davis. “Thank the voters, the community, everybody who heard our message and came out and voted. It’s a testament to the fact that we have an excellent school district and the community knows it. We provided them with all sorts of good information, and as a result, they came out and supported us today.”
• Tallmadge voters rejected a $27.5 million bond issue to raise funds for a new building. Officials want to build a new elementary school for prekindergarten through fifth grades at the site of the David Bacon school.
• With most counted, Barberton was poised to turn down an 8.52-mill, 5-year levy that would bring in $3 million a year.
The district has cut more than 50 positions in two years, with expectations of cutting more if the levy failed.
• With all but one precinct in, Norton voters were looking favorably on a 1.9-mill continuing levy to raise $534,000 a year.
• With 15 of 16 precincts in, Twinsburg City schools were passing a 4.9-mill continuing levy to generate $3.8 million a year. The district has eliminated 57 position in cost-cutting measures.
• Medina City Schools appeared to be losing a request for a 3.9-mill, 10-year levy that would provide $4.6 million to the school district.
The district has already cut $9.5 million from operating budget, with 20 percent of the workforce laid off.
Marilyn Miller can be reached at 330-996-3098 or email@example.com.