Voters in the Nordonia Hills and Tallmadge school districts on May 7 will decide the fate of two school levies that officials say are needed to prevent deeper budget cuts.

 

Nordonia

 

Nordonia Hills City School officials are asking voters to approve Issue 3, a 6.98-mill operating levy.

The continuing levy would generate an estimated $7 million for the schools and cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $240 per year. A previous 6.98-mill continuing operating levy failed in November.

If the levy fails, the board has approved reductions to save about $1.6 million for the 2019-20 school year, Superintendent Joe Clark said. The cuts include eliminating 38 jobs districtwide, representing about 8 percent of the district’s workforce.

"The reductions will cause class sizes to increase in the elementary buildings and high school; will eliminate busing eligibility for more than 2,300 students; and will scale back aide help to special education teachers across the district," Clark said.

"If Issue 3 passes, busing will stay as it currently is, available for all students in grades K-12 living one mile or more from school," he said. "All other reductions will be analyzed over the summer and restored as deemed appropriate and necessary."

Clark said that passage of Issue 3 would allow the district to maintain its programs and services.

"The levy is needed because Nordonia students need to be able to compete with students from Brecksville, Twinsburg and Hudson for jobs, college admissions and scholarships," Clark said. "A levy failure will cause us to dismantle the school district, which as we learned from our last levy attempts in 2010-11, took a generation to rebuild from."

Clark said funds from the levy "will allow the district to maintain its facilities proactively and prevent us from having to make inefficient Band-Aid repairs."

The last new operating levy was approved by the voters in November 2011.

 

Tallmadge

 

In Tallmadge, district officials again are appealing to voters to pass a 7.4-mill operating levy during the May 7 election which, if passed, would raise $3.1 million a year. A previous attempt at a levy to raise the same amount failed in November.

If passed, it would cost the owner of a $100,000 home an additional $259 a year.

One reason for the levy is the phase-out of the personal tangible tax, which has cost the district about $2.5 million, Treasurer Jeff Hostetler has said.

“That was a significant part of our budget,” Hostetler said.

Another factor impacting school budgets is the fact that even if the value of property increases, schools still collect the same amount of money from the millage the district has passed under state law, Hostetler said.

“Because the district’s property valuation is one of the major components in the state’s funding formula, a district will lose state revenue as its valuation increases,” Hostetler said.

“When you combine all of that, we don’t have any source of revenue but to come back to the voters,” Hostetler said. “I hate it, I’ve been in the business longer than I care to think about it, and it’s the worst part of the job. Every district is in this cycle.”

The last new operating levy, passed in November 2009, was a 6.9-mill, 10-year levy. Its effective millage today is 6.85 mills. It generates just under $2.9 million annually, or about 10.5 percent of the district’s total revenue of $27.2 million.

The school board already approved a $1.7 million spending reduction plan in early March. These cuts include eliminating busing for about 60 percent of the district’s students by going to state minimum, eliminating 15.5 positions and implementing pay-to-participate fees. Reducing busing to the state minimum will save an estimated $700,000; reductions in certified staff will save about $820,000. Reductions in classified staff and suspending 32 non-supervision supplemental contracts will save about $131,000.

Superintendent Jeff Ferguson said he would recommend the cuts be restored if the levy passes in May. He added that if the levy doesn’t pass, the district could attempt another levy in August or November. However, if no new money is generated in 2019, further cuts would be needed for the 2020-21 school year.

 

Around the county

 

Several other Summit County school districts are asking voters to approve school levy renewals:

• Twinsburg City School District.

• Green Local School District.

• Aurora City School District (includes portions of Reminderville).

• Jackson Local School District (includes portions of Green).