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Coventry district requesting support for levy renewal

10/4/2012 - South Side Leader
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By Emily Chesnic

COVENTRY — Voters living in the Coventry Local School District will see Issue No. 70, a 9.96-mill emergency renewal levy, on the Nov. 6 General Election ballot.

According to district officials, approval of the issue will ensure the district continues to function at its current level.

“The passage of this levy is critical in maintaining the current programs Coventry Local has in place,” said Treasurer Aaron Butts.

Originally passed in 2003, the 9.96-mill, five-year levy renewal that voters will face would continue to collect taxes at an already established dollar amount.

“Since it is a renewal, it is important to note that it is not a new tax,” said Superintendent Russell Chaboudy.

Coventry receives about $2.9 million each year through the levy, first renewed by voters in 2008, Butts said.

“This renewal money would be used to maintain the current programs we have in place at Coventry Local,” he said.

Programs like art, music, foreign language, special services and transportation would be negatively impacted should the levy renewal fail, district officials said.

“A defeat would be catastrophic to Coventry Local,” Butts said. “If defeated, we will essentially have to cut over $1.5 million next school year and another $2.9 million the following school year.”

If the levy were to fail, the district not only would see considerable reductions in programming but could be put in state receivership, as well, Butts said.

In state receivership, the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) would come in and make drastic cuts to Coventry’s programs, similar to what was done at the neighboring Springfield Local Schools and what is currently being done at Cloverleaf Local Schools in Medina County, he explained.

Butts said the state could end up taking control over district operations if the levy renewal is not approved by voters. Without the $2.9 million a year, Coventry could be forced to borrow money from the state to make ends meet, district officials have said.

According to the ODE, school districts are placed in state receivership if they are financially insolvent.

As a result of the decline in the economy and reductions in state funding to education, districts are finding it difficult to find remedies to address their budgetary and cash shortfalls, as is the case for Coventry, district officials have said.

When a district in fiscal distress reaches the point where it no longer can meet its financial obligations, it must apply for a state loan, otherwise known as receivership, the ODE has explained. Once a state loan is received, the state takes over control of the district, which remains under some level of state control until the state loan has been repaid.

The superintendent and school board most likely would no longer get to decide what programs and services could remain, according to district officials.

If approved, owners of a $100,000 home would expect to continue to pay $25.42 per month and $19.06 if the owner is older than 65 years old.

“Based on your 2012 property taxes you paid, you will not see an increase in taxes,” Butts said.

Due to the recent reduction in the assessed value of homes in Coventry, residents pay slightly more for the levy than they did in 2003. According to figures provided by the treasurer’s office, residents of a $100,000 home paid $25.21 per month for the emergency levy in 2003.

In years when the district had a higher assessed valuation, an owner of a $100,000 home saved about $2.70 per month because the county did not need to collect as much to arrive at the emergency levy amount, Butts explained.

If property values rebound, then residents of $100,000 homes could pay less than $25.42 a month during the emergency levy renewal collection period, he said.

“The emergency levy renewal is a necessity,” Butts said. “It is critical to our operation.”

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