For the fifth time in two years, Mogadore schools is appealing to voters for help.
Appearing again on the ballot Tuesday is a 5.9-mill levy rejected by 57 percent of voters in August. The issue would raise $485,000 annually, restore busing to earlier levels, reduce higher pay-to-play fees and reverse other cost-saving measures enacted this school year.
Administrators say the levy is needed to avoid deficit spending beginning next school year.
“We’re going to end in the black this June,” said Superintendent Christina Dinklocker. “It’s as we begin the next school year that we begin going down the drain.”
Mogadore’s financial state is driven largely by state policy changes and the economy.
More than two-thirds of residents surveyed by the school’s levy committee responded with approval of the excellent-rated education at Mogadore schools, but the same percentage said they can’t afford to give more.
That comes at a time when the state is giving less.
Beginning in 2013, state lawmakers eliminated $1.4 million in annual taxes on business equipment, equating to about a 15 percent reduction in the small, suburban school’s $10 million budget.
Then, the legislature eliminated a 12.5 percent state match on new levies, which requires local taxpayers to shoulder a larger share of school funding.
So, in the past 18 to 24 months, the district has trimmed $1.8 million in expenses — largely through attrition, shared services and other efficiencies — to compensate for the revenue loss in the short term.
“Passing a levy keeps us from going downhill. Not passing a levy just perpetuates the slide,” Dinklocker said.
If the levy fails Tuesday, and perhaps again in February, the district will seek further reductions for the 2014-15 school year.
Those additional cuts, which the school board has reviewed, would include staff, program and service reductions.
No other Summit County school district is seeking new money, though Springfield schools will be asking voters to approve three renewals, which resurface every five years and contribute 16 percent of the budget.
Schools looking for continued support include Coventry: 6.83-mill, 10-year renewal levy; Cuyahoga Falls: 7.9-mill, five-year renewal levy; Northwest: one percent income tax renewal, to be collected for 5 years; and Springfield: three five-year renewal levies totaling 14.01 mills.
Doug Livingston can be reached at 330-996-3792 or firstname.lastname@example.org.