It's back to the drawing board for several area school districts that lost levy issues in Tuesday's election.
Administrators in Tallmadge in Summit County, Streetsboro in Portage County, Marlington Local in Stark County and Northeastern and Dalton in Wayne County are making plans for their next steps in light of voters saying no to their tax issues.
Tallmadge voters rejected a five-year, 7.4-mill levy that would have generated a little more than $3.1 million a year and cost the owner of a $100,000 home an extra $259 per year.
“Thank you to everyone who supported the levy and our schools, especially those who spent so much time communicating its importance,” Superintendent Jeff Ferguson said. “Sadly, this is not the outcome we wanted for our schools. Despite this setback, our district will continue to provide the best possible education for our children.”
The district has additional opportunities to place the issue back on the ballot, which will be needed to maintain financial stability, according to the district.
If new money isn’t generated, the district will find itself $936,378 in the red by fiscal year 2020, according to Treasurer Jeff Hostetler.
The fall five-year forecast, posted on the Ohio Department of Education’s website, shows the district will have a negative ending cash balance at a little more than $1.5 million in 2021.
Streetsboro Superintendent Mike Daulbaugh said the district will need $3.4 million to stay afloat due to the failure of a 7.5-mill, five-year limited levy. He told board members at their Thursday meeting that there were two paths the district could take: Stay at status quo and keep operating as is, or come up with a list of noncurriculum cuts that could be made as early as January.
Board members asked administrators to find possible cuts so decisions can be made about future property tax issues.
Board President Brian Violi said, “We need to be drastic now and cut what we can. We are going to the ballot in May, and we will need a comprehensive list so voters know what could be cut.”
The board is expected to take the first step toward putting a levy on the May ballot at its December meeting, followed by the second resolution in January to keep to the Board of Elections filing deadline of Feb. 6.
Marlington Local school district voters rejected a $17.6 million, 20-year bond issue to consolidate the district's three elementary schools into a new building. The Ohio Facilities Construction Commission was going to give $14 million toward the school's construction, which was projected to cost $31 million.
If voters had approved the bond issue, the district planned to close the three older schools. The bond issue, known as Issue 3, would have cost the owner of a $100,000 home $133 a year in additional property tax payments.
Even though the levy failed Marlington officials may close one of the schools — Marlboro Elementary — next school year.
“We talked about closing Marlboro; the plan is the 2019-20 school year,” said Mark Ryan, Marlington school board president. “We don’t know what we will do with the building. We might repurpose it, we might sell it, we might demolish it.”
In Wayne County, voters defeated levies in the Northwestern and Dalton school districts.
“It was close,” said Dalton Superintendent James Saxer of Dalton Local Schools’ attempt to pass a 1.5-mill, 5-year safety, security and mental health levy which failed at the polls by an unofficial, final vote of 1,354 to 1,143.
He said the district won’t be deterred from figuring out ways to meet the “primary needs,” from physical to mental health, of students, in addition to increasing school security, but will have to “re-evaluate how we will do that.”
The Northwestern Local schools district’s 4.0-mill, five-year permanent improvement levy, composed of a 2.8-mill renewal and a 1.2-mill addition, also failed.
“The need is evident,” Northwestern Superintendent Jeffrey Layton said. “I’ll just talk with the school board and figure out what we want to do.”
April Helm of the Tallmadge Express, Malcolm Hall of the Canton Repository, Linda Hall of the Wooster Daily-Record and Briana Barker of the Record-Courier contributed to this report.