July 28, 2014

Elyria
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Lorain Schools may go for levy

LORAIN — Lorain Schools Treasurer Ryan Ghizzoni said Monday night that the district may be forced to ask voters to approve a levy to become financially solvent.

Ghizzoni’s statement, that the district needed additional funding “including but not limited to” a levy, came during a school board meeting that included a presentation from representatives of the state Board of Education focusing on the district’s financial crisis.

“It was certainly not good,” Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson said of the state board’s projections. “The bottom line for us is that we have a very small fund balance in our projections.”

Ghizzoni’s own projections were similar to what the state predicted. He said the goal of most school districts is to have about $9 million left over at the end of every fiscal year, which can be used in case state funding does not come through on time.

The year end balance in 2009 is projected to be less than $500,000 and drop the district into the red the following year, he said.

The district was facing a $15 million deficit until it laid off more than 240 teachers over the summer, which was a third of the teaching staff. Since then, more than 70 teachers have been recalled.

“We knew we had difficulty trying to come out of this,” Atkinson said. “There are no additional dollars in sight.”

After the financial report, the school board voted three to two to name Dan DeNicola the district’s chief operations officer, a job he’d been doing on an interim basis for several months.

The position was created to combine the roles of facilities director and chief operations officer, and therefore save money for the district, DeNicola said. His duties include being in charge of building operations, construction of new buildings, safety and security and transportation.

He will now make about $96,000, which is about $10,000 more than his previous salary.

Voting no were Dina Ferrar and Cynthia Miller. Ferrar said that given the district’s financial crisis, she didn’t feel comfortable giving DeNicola a raise.

DeNicola said the extra money is fair because he’s taking on the responsibility of two jobs.

“My feeling is that it’s a small cost to do the job of two people,” he said.

Contact Adam Wright at 653-6257 at awright@chroniclet.com.