Woodridge officials asking voters to approve levy
PENINSULA — Woodridge Local Schools officials are asking voters to support a 6.83-mill emergency operating levy, Issue No. 5, which is on the Aug. 7 Special Election ballot.
According to district officials, the five-year levy would raise $3 million per year for the emergency requirements of the district. It would cost approximately $209 for every $100,000 of home value, according to district officials.
Issue No. 5 follows two unsuccessful levy attempts, in November 2011 and March 2012. Both were narrowly defeated, by 224 and 249 votes respectively, according to the Summit County Board of Elections (BOE).
The succession of levy attempts comes as a result of a decrease in revenue — especially from state funding and local property taxes, in light of the depressed economy — along with state mandates that require public schools to pay thousands of dollars for students to attend charter schools or use vouchers to attend private/parochial schools, according to district officials. The public school districts also are required by law to pay to bus such students to their private schools, according to district officials.
The other major cause of the financial problems is increased costs for such things as insurance premiums, gas and utilities. Woodridge Treasurer Deanna Levenger projects a 10 percent increase in the district’s health care premiums for each of the next few years.
School districts are required by law to balance their budgets by the end of each fiscal year, June 30.
“With our current funding sources, the district’s break-even year was 2008-2009,” Levenger said. “Since then, we’ve been spending our reserves,” that is, the district’s carryover fund, “the money that gets you through the years when you have more expenditures than revenues.”
She has said that without any new money approved in 2012 (first collectible in 2013), the district will end up more than $8 million short by 2016.
Following the two levy defeats, Woodridge has made major budget reductions and has tried to keep the cuts away from the classroom, according to district officials. The district reduced its budget by approximately $1.8 million in the 2011-12 school year, eliminating 27 staff positions and cutting programs and supplies. Administrative salaries have been frozen, and the staff health care contribution has been increased, according to district officials.
The district held community forums to get opinions from taxpayers and offered a survey in the schools and online to learn what community members believed should be cut first, along with their suggestions for saving money. One of the most popular responses was to charge students to participate in sports and other extracurricular activities, according to district officials.
The school board voted in April to start charging such “pay-to-participate” fees next year.
The district also has sought other new sources of revenue. Levenger said Woodridge was able to negotiate debt refunding at a lower rate of 2001 bonds for school facilities improvement, which will save $1 million in interest over the life of the bonds. The district also is saving money following its switch to an Ohio consortium to purchase liability and property insurance at a lower rate, Levenger said.
Yet, despite the cost-cutting measures and new fees, district officials said the district cannot break even without new money.
“Passage of Issue No. 5 is crucial to the district,” said Superintendent Walter Davis. “Having already made dramatic cuts reducing the General Fund by nearly 10 percent [$2.1 million] over the past two years, additional reductions will equate to lost opportunities for our students. Without these new funds, we face a deficit of over $8 million in the next few years. We want to ensure that our students have every opportunity to experience a world-class educational program that goes beyond state minimum standards. If levies continue to fail, we will be forced to eliminate programs that have, over the years, made our district the great place that it is today.”
Woodridge has received Excellent With Distinction and Excellent ratings on the Ohio school district report cards the past two years, according to district officials.
Davis did not speculate on what further cuts would need to be made if the levy does not pass in August but said, “Additional reductions of programming will be likely if we do not pass a new levy in calendar year 2012.”
The school board will likely discuss at its July meeting what may have to happen if the August levy fails, he said.
However, during a special board meeting June 27, the board voted in favor of putting a five-year, $3 million levy on the Nov. 6 General Election ballot. It will be removed from the ballot if the August levy passes, Davis said. The BOE’s deadline to place issues on the November ballot is Aug. 8.
More Community News
- Akron mayor addresses ‘hacking’ attack
- Parades, services planned for Memorial Day
- APS drops Digital Academy sponsorship
- County Council committee moves ADM levy forward
- Four men honored for bravery following April car crash
- Bath applying for grant to fund police officer position
- Blighted Copley property razed; six others to follow
- Sharon preparing for Memorial Day events
- Akron Planning Commission OKs plans for new grocery
- West Side News & Notes
Calendar of Events
- ZOSO with Joe Vitale Jr. Band - 5/24/2013
- Evil Ways with The Juke Hounds - 5/24/2013
- Voices in the Valley - 5/24/2013
- Who’s Bad? The Ultimate Michael Jackson Tribute - 5/24/2013
- Ballroom Nights - 5/24/2013