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Medina City Schools aims for passage of 5.9-mill levy

9/26/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Staff Writer

MEDINA — The Medina City School District, in anticipation of a $1.8 million spending deficit in 2014, is asking voters to approve a five-year, 5.9-mill emergency levy in the Nov. 5 General Election.

In the West Side Leader’s coverage area, voters who live in part of Granger’s Precinct C and part of Sharon’s Precinct B will see the levy on the ballot.

If passed, the levy would raise about $6.6 million per year. According to district Director of Community Relations Jeanne Hurt, it would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $204 per year, or $17 per month. Collection would begin in 2014.

According to district officials, the district has not received new local operating funds since 2005 and has experienced state revenue cuts. Since 2005, the district has unsuccessfully tried five times to pass a levy, Hurt said.

If the levy passes, district officials say programming and services that would be restored include: reading intervention teachers, counselors, gifted teachers, high school/middle school electives, safety and security, and support staff. Passage of the levy would restore busing to outside a 1-mile radius from the current 2-mile radius limit and would also help the district meet the state requirement for the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System, a new evaluation system for teaching staff.

In addition to reducing busing to the state minimum standards (2 miles or more for elementary and middle school students and no busing for high school students), the district has reduced staff by 20 percent (teachers, support staff and administrators), increased employee health care benefit contributions, frozen salaries, eliminated reading intervention specialists at the elementary level, eliminated some Advanced Placement and honors classes at the high school level, eliminated electives at the middle school level and implemented pay-to-participate. As a result, according to district officials, class sizes have increased and students have had fewer class offerings at both the middle and high school levels, resulting in more study hall time.

The $1.8 million deficit in 2014 is expected to balloon to $11.2 million by 2017 without new local funding, according to district officials.

If the levy were to fail, the district, to meet the projected deficit, would “need to make dramatic changes in programming,” according to a fact sheet provided by the district. According to the fact sheet, the proposed reductions in the event of a levy failure include:

  • reorganize neighborhood schools to a banded elementary school concept and close Heritage Elementary School, which has the smallest capacity and is the most costly per square foot;
  • eliminate middle school sports and activities, and further reduce high school options and electives; and
  • reduce Central Office staff and budgets.
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